Make the breakthroughs you need with trailblazing visionaries

Credit: Destination Vancouver

Credit: Destination Vancouver

As associations and industries navigate a changing world, leaders everywhere are striving to support diversity, mitigate climate change, incorporate artificial intelligence—and build a future in which we can all thrive.

In such a transformative period, it’s more important than ever to be able to access inspiration and insight that will strengthen you as you create that future.

A focus on centres of excellence across a range of economic sectors, industry leadership and strategic investments like those available when hosting a meeting in Canada, offer just that.

Our academics, trailblazers and thought leaders are opening hearts and minds to new ideas and perspectives, helping their industries take crucial steps towards growth and change.

Meanwhile, unique federal funding investments are ensuring major international conferences are well supported—so your events spark innovative ideas and create a lasting positive legacy. 

Meet the talented Canadians inspiring the world

Destination Canada: Canadian Visionaries Network Video

Canada is a global leader in advanced manufacturing, digital industries, agribusiness, natural resources, life sciences and finance and insurance—with the visionary leaders to prove it.

This unique ecosystem enables organizations to supercharge their meeting agendas with acclaimed keynote speakers, captivating site tours and unparalleled networking opportunities.

Destination Canada designed the Canadian Visionaries Network (CVN) to showcase these leaders and their success in attracting international business events to Canada.

One valuable member of this innovative network is Sheldon Williamson, Professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Software Engineering at Ontario Tech University.

Sheldon Williamson HeadshotWilliamson is not only Director of the Smart Transportation Electrification and Energy Research Group in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, but also NSERC Canada Research Chair in electric energy storage systems for transportation electrification and an IEEE Fellow. 

As a member of Toronto’s Leaders Circle, he successfully helped the city bid for the 18th International Conference on Industrial Technology (ICIT) 2017.

“Toronto sells itself — we’re ranked second in the world’s top smart cities, and the third largest technology sector in North America,” he said. “So, it was relatively easy to put together the bid and proposal, and we received a great deal of support from the city, Destination Toronto and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.”

Thanks to the efforts of Williamson and the bid team, in March of 2017 more than 300 of the top minds in industrial technology touched down in Canada’s largest city for the four-day gathering.

One advantage to hosting ICIT 2017 in Toronto is that it gave organizers the chance to tap into its thriving industrial technology ecosystem — including renewable energy systems, power systems and smart grids, and robotics and automation. 

This took many forms, from captivating speaker sessions led by local experts to tutorials and keynotes on a range of topics in industrial technology. ICIT 2017 also featured a day-long exhibit, during which companies displayed their latest products through presentations and panel sessions.

All of this was punctuated with compelling tours of automotive and tech titans, like IBM in Markham, Ford’s Assembly Plant in Oakville and General Motors in Oshawa, where attendees saw first-hand the innovations and developments that are driving the future. They also visited leading academic facilities and research institutions, including the University of Toronto and Ontario Tech University.

Beyond its technology expertise, Toronto lures visitors for its cultural offerings. Approximately 50 per cent of the population is born outside Canada, which makes it one of the world’s most multicultural cities. It’s this very openness to diverse ways of life that enriches conference agendas and leaves a lasting impression on delegates. As Williamson recalled, ICIT 2017 offered several unique cultural experiences that were a massive hit among attendees.

Credit: Destination Ontario     Credit: Destination Toronto
Credit: Destination Ontario Credit: Destination Toronto

“Conferences are usually very global in nature — which is why many attendees were thrilled to find diverse food, attractions and cultures embedded within the city of Toronto,” said Williamson.

Credit: Credit: Gerrad India Bazaar - Festival of South Asia. 22nd TD Festival of South Asia 2024.  July 20 & 21, 2024

Credit: Gerrad India Bazaar - Festival of South Asia.

“One evening, we served an Indian food buffet that was outstanding and invited a folk group to perform a Punjabi  dance. The next thing you know, all the engineers were dancing on stage. It was a highly memorable moment.”

Multi-million dollar fund offers unique federal support

While the leadership and expertise of our Canadian Visionaries support and elevate global business events held in Canada, unique government funding provides financial backing.

Destination Canada’s International Convention Attraction Fund (ICAF) is a world-first for the business events industry, supporting bids by Canadian cities to host major international conventions in Canada.

The ICAF is funded by the Government of Canada and administered by Destination Canada to bolster Canada’s global competitiveness in attracting international business events.

It offers up to $1 million CAD per event for eligible Canadian destinations bidding to host major global conventions, part of an overall $50 million government investment for this purpose.

Announcing the ICAF, the Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec celebrated Canadians as world-class hosts and described hosting more international business events as central to her work.

“With fierce competition for these events, this investment will ensure that Canada can contend with the best—and then welcome them."

In 2023, Canada hosted 595 business events and welcomed more than 383,000 international business event delegates.

Get in touch

To learn more about hosting events in Canada and how our visionary leaders can enhance your event, visit or contact Virginie De Visscher, Executive Director, Business Events, Destination Canada at [email protected] or +1 204-802-0920.

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