Keynote Speakers

David Audretsch


David Audretsch, Distinguished Professor and the Ameritech Chair of Economic Development and Director of the Institute for Development Strategies at Indiana University. He is an Honorary Professor of Industrial Economics and Entrepreneurship at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germanyand a Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London. Audretsch’s research has focused on the links between entrepreneurship, government policy, innovation, economic development, and global competitiveness. 

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Wendy Cukier


Wendy Cukier, Founder of the Diversity Institute and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Ted Rogers School of Management’s is one of Canada’s leading experts in disruptive technologies, innovation processes and diversity. She has written more than 200 papers on technology, innovation and management and her vision and leadership has shaped Ryerson’s Diversity Institute to become one of Canada’s leading research centres in the areas of inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship. She has led projects aimed at advancing diverse women in leadership and promoting the participation of underrepresented groups in the workforce and in entrepreneurship. She has helped organizations become more inclusive through programs such as Diversity Leads. Dr. Cukier also leads the new Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) – a network of organizations aimed at developing an inclusive innovation ecosystem.

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Dr. Howard E. Aldrich


Dr. Howard E. Aldrich is an Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a Faculty Research Associate at the Department of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business; and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Study of Economy and Society at Cornell University. Aldrich’s main research interests are entrepreneurship, team formation, evolutionary theory, economic sociology and inequality, and gender issues in entrepreneurship. Aldrich is best known for his work in applying an evolutionary perspective to organizational emergence and change.

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Hon. Mary Ng, P.C., M.P.

Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade From promoting Canada to the world as a great place to do business, to helping our entrepreneurs and businesses grow and access new markets – Minister Ng is focused on helping Canadians

First elected the Member of Parliament for Markham–Thornhill in April 2017, Minister Ng wasfirst appointed to Cabinet in July 2018 as Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion. After being successfully re-elected in November 2019, she became Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. Prior to serving as a Member of Parliament, Minister Ng served as Appointments Director for the Prime Minister, and as Executive Director for the President of Ryerson University where she
oversaw the creation of a world-leading business incubator for tech start-ups.

Throughout her 20 years of public service, Minister Ng has been a devoted community leader with a focus on creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship, and empowering small business to innovate and grow.




Barbara Orser, B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D.

Professor Orser is a Full Professor and the Deloitte Professor in the Management of Growth Enterprises. Her research, teaching and advocacy focus on entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. Advisory roles include a Women20 (W20) Acting Head of Delegation Canada, UNWomen WE Empower Advisory Group Canada, board member of Women’s Economic Imperative, editorial board of the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, and Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Policy Research Group.

She is the former Chair of the Taskforce for Women’s Enterprise Growth (2009 to 2011), a Canadian non-partisan consortium of prominent women business owners, service agencies, academics and industry associations. Prior to joining Telfer School of Management in 2005, she was an Associate Professor at Carleton and Ryerson University, and Program Manager of the Conference Board of Canada Centre of Excellence for Women’s Advancement.


Candida Brush

F.W. Olin Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

Prof. Brush is one of the early pioneers in entrepreneurship research, and conducted one of the first and largest studies in the US. She has co-authored reports for OECD, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and presented her work at the World Economic Forum in Davos and the US Department of Commerce. Professor Brush has authored more than 160 publications in entrepreneurship, including 13 books, and is one of the most highly cited researchers in the field. Her current research investigates angel capital funding of nascent ventures and venture capital funding of women entrepreneurs.

For the past 5 years, she served as Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership and previous to this was Department Chair of Entrepreneurship at Babson College, the number 1 ranked school in entrepreneurship for the past 27 years. She co-authored a top book for educators on teaching entrepreneurship, Teaching Entrepreneurship, a Practice Based Approach, which broke all sales records for the publisher. She is a co-founder of the Diana International Project, a research collaboration of more than 600 researchers, which investigates growth-oriented women entrepreneurs around the world




Amanda Elam

Amanda Elam is both a scholar and entrepreneur. In addition her role as CEO/Cofounder of an early stage medical diagnostics company in NC, she serves as Diana International Research Fellow at Babson College where she conducts research on gender and entrepreneurship for the Diana International Research Institute and the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership. She earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.