NEXT Canada, a national non-profit focused on fostering the next generation of high-impact Canadian entrepreneurs, announced that Sheldon Levy will be joining the organization as CEO on October 30th. Mr. Levy is currently the Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and previously served as President and Vice Chancellor of Ryerson University, where he spearheaded the launch of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone. Mr. Levy is a recognized leader in education and innovation, and was named one of Canada’s 50 most influential people in business by Canadian Business. In his new role at NEXT Canada, Mr. Levy will oversee its three programs for entrepreneurs – Next 36, Next Founders and NextAI – and will continue to further the organization’s goal of providing education, mentorship, and capital to entrepreneurs in Canada and around the world.

“I’ve always believed that innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology are the future of the Canadian economy, and the best way to ensure prosperity for all Canadians,” Mr. Levy said. “NEXT Canada has the potential to become one of the most important entrepreneurial organizations in the country, and I’m excited to join to further expand on their impressive team and track record, and to continue with their mission of founder development.”

Mr. Levy will be taking over from Interim CEO Andrea Matheson, who joined NEXT Canada in 2016 and will remain a Senior Advisor to NEXT’s Board of Directors, and will also lead several key initiatives for NEXT’s female founders. The appointment was handled by the CEO search committee on behalf of the Board of Directors. The board is extremely grateful for Ms. Matheson’s leadership over the past year, during which time she oversaw the launch of NextAI in 2016, a program that focuses on building commercially-viable artificial intelligence ventures. NextAI is one of NEXT’s three signature programs for entrepreneurs, and joins the foundational program Next 36, which is geared towards young founders of early stage businesses, and Next Founders, which focuses on founder development for existing startups with significant traction.

Each of the programs equips participants with the tools, education, mentorship and network they need to successfully build and grow a company. Since launching in 2010, over 300 entrepreneurs have participated in NEXT Canada programs, with over 80 companies launched, who have gone on to collectively raise over $250 million in funding, and create over 800 jobs.

Today the organization is also welcoming new board members Jacqui Allard, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategy, Performance, and Marketing for Personal & Commercial Banking at RBC, and Catherine Lacavera, Director of IP, Litigation, and Employment at Google Inc.

“We are thrilled that Sheldon is joining as CEO of NEXT Canada. Sheldon has the vision, the experience, and the credibility to dramatically enhance our ability to move the needle on Canadian prosperity in the years ahead,” said John Kelleher, NEXT Canada Co-Chair and McKinsey & Company partner. “Our ambition has always been to be one of the top entrepreneurial development programs in the world, and with Sheldon at the helm we will achieve this goal.”

Applications for the 2018 cohort of Next 36 are now open and available online. Applications for the 2018 cohort of NextAI will open September 20, and applications for the next cohort of Next Founders will open in early 2018. NEXT Canada is supported by the generous donations of business leaders across the country as well as National Partners including EY, Osler Harcourt & Hoskin LLP, and Power Corporation of Canada, and the NextAI program is supported by founding partners BDC Capital, Magna, RBC, and Scotiabank. The organization also has a community of over 400 academic instructors, advisors, mentors, and business leaders who provide support to the program participants.

“NEXT’s programs aim to inspire, mentor, and build the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs who will create some of the most valuable and important businesses on the planet,” said Anthony Lacavera, NEXT Canada Co-Chair and Founder and Chairman of Globalive. “Moving forward you are going to see a lot of ambitious and exciting announcements from NEXT. Under Sheldon's leadership, NEXT will be at the centre of Canada's dynamic technology ecosystem, and we look forward to collaborating with other entrepreneurship organizations to raise the profile of Canadian entrepreneurs around the world.”