The Narwhal Project

Commentators have long criticized Canada’s inability to scale high-tech companies to world-class size. Although Canada has created an ecosystem that produces many startups, few of these companies grow to become Unicorns. Certainly, we have had world-leading companies such as Blackberry and Open Text, and more recently Unicorns such as HootSuite and Kik Interactive. But most of our successful startups are sold before they reach world-class size. Overcoming this growth hurdle is crucial to positioning Canadian companies favourably in global markets.

The Narwhal Project was established at the Impact Centre at the University of Toronto to conduct research in order to discover the underlying factors that are inhibiting our ability to create world-class technology companies. Our objective is to understand how we can improve and how governments, companies, and academia can identify and adopt best practices in technology commercialization.

Charles Plant 

Charles Plant, the founder of the Narwhal Project, is a Senior Fellow at The University of Toronto’s Impact Centre. His research and teaching focuses on best practices in innovation and entrepreneurship. He also acts as advisor to help innovators and entrepreneurs transition from startup to scaleup .

He is a serial entrepreneur who has been an officer, director or investor in over a dozen technology companies. He was co-founder and CEO for 15 years of Synamics, a telecommunications software firm that provided mass calling platforms to telcos. He spent four years at MaRS ending as CFO but spent most of his time as Managing Director, heading up a group of former entrepreneurs and specialists who developed thought leadership, provided education, mentorship, market intelligence and capital to over 2,000 technology startups in Ontario.

Active for much of his career in the world of finance, Charles has been a corporate banker, an investment banker and served on the Management Committee and as CFO of the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) at MaRS and CFO of MaRS Innovation. As an educator, Charles spent seven years on the faculty of York’s Schulich School of Business teaching in the MBA program. He has an MBA in Marketing and is pursuing PhD in Economics.

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