A special guest Spotlight post from Invest Ottawa

A few weeks ago, the MaRS FinTech Cluster wrapped up their three-week cross-Canada tour, with stops in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa, Ontario. The goal of this series was to gather key information from top fintech advocates while engaging the fintech community.

MaRS, in collaboration with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Invest Ottawa, hosted the final #FinTechCA event on a sunny October afternoon at the Ismaili Immat Embassy.

Fintech entrepreneurs, financial institution members, and innovative leaders gathered together to soak up the dialogue and exchange views.

A beautifully tiled pathway at night with accent lighting leading up to the Ismaili Imamat Embassy
Walkway between the main venue and entrance at the Ismaili Imamat Embassy

The Panel

The panel consisted of representatives from all parts of the ecosystem, including:

  • Karen Letain, Marketing and Communications Director, Invest Ottawa (Incubator and Economic Development Agency)
  • Tim Attia, CEO, Slice Labs (Insurance)
  • Glenn Campbell, Director, Financial Institutions Division, Financial Sector Policy, Finance Canada (Government)
  • Benoit Destouches, Finance Director, Aga Khan Agency (Microfinance)
  • Laurence Cooke, Founder & CEO, nanoPay (Digital Cash)

It was apparent that once the questions started, even among a diverse group of panel participants, certain themes shone through. It was truly engaging for all members of the fintech community. Here are some of the key pieces of advice provided by the panel members to fintech entrepreneurs:

Laurence Cooke
"Start in Canada and stay in Canada. It's a great environment and has great engineers."

Benoit Destouches
"Start in Canada and come work with us."

Karen Letain
"Be aware of the support and networks that are already in existence around you. Invest Ottawa has a wide span of services from workshops and seminars, to access to mentors, and all of it is free. Use the network that's been built in Canada to support your entrepreneurial efforts."

Glenn Campbell
"If you have an idea to explore the financial sector space – pursue it! If it's a good idea, play it out and when you finally approach regulators, use the same business case as you would for your funders."

Tim Attia
"Go raise money, put your idea together and start a company. There's capital and an ecosystem out there."

Why Ottawa?

The highest concentration of scientists and engineers in Canada

Why was Ottawa such an important stop on the tour? In short, talent! Ottawa is recognized for its impressive talent pool and top educational institutions. Not only is the combined population of its schools the size of a small city, but it is also home to the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in Canada. This is one of the reasons why Slice chose to grow in the capital.

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