Kitchener-Waterloo

New management school at Wilfrid Laurier to focus on global business

Wilfrid Laurier University's new management institute will be transformational for the school and make graduates more competitive on the global market, says university president Max Blouw.
Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of BlackBerry, has pledged $20 million over 10 years to the new business management institute at Wilfrid Laurier University. (Perimeter Institute/Associated Press)

Wilfrid Laurier University's new management institute will be transformational for the school and make graduates more competitive on the global market, says the university's president and vice-chancellor Max Blouw.

"The vision is to help companies scale and to create the leaders of those companies that can take smaller companies, startups that have great promise and scale them to hopefully global competitiveness," said Blouw.

Last week the school announced a $35 million expansion to create the institute, with $20 million of that coming from BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis, and the other $15 million from the Ontario government. The money will be made available over a ten-year period. 

Blouw said that there's no shortage of people with great ideas who start companies in the region, and there are plenty of programs to help emerging start-ups. 

"What we're not so good at is scaling those companies to global pre-eminence. Quite frankly, it's a different set of skills, it's a different perspective, the leadership of companies that are growing very rapidly requires certain very clear expertise in areas such as global intellectual property issue, for example," said Blouw. 

He said the institute will be part of the university's school of business and economics, with a mix of students. 

"I believe the students will be some undergraduate, some graduate, but also company executives as students, for perhaps not long periods of time, but intensive engagement," said Blouw. 

The new institute will be housed in the Global Innovation Exchange building on University Avenue in Waterloo, where the school's business, economics and math programs will soon be located.  That building is in the final stages of construction and was funded in part by a previous provincial investment of $72.6 million. 

The building will open either later this year or in the new year. 

Blouw said that discussions with Lazaridis began around two years ago, and after it was clear he was on board, the school approached the province. 

"He will certainly have an advisory role, he may have a position on a board, but it's certainly not in any way directive of the academic activity," said Blouw of Lazaridis. 

Lazaridis also founded the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo and the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.

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