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Groundbreaking partnership will boost inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation in Scarborough and the Eastern GTA

An architectural rendering of the Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership

An architectural rendering of the Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership (Rendering by CEBRA and ZAS ARCHTECTS + INTERIORS)

A transformative $25-million investment from Scarborough-based entrepreneur Sam Ibrahim will establish the Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership at University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) – taking the region’s innovation ecosystem to the next level and equipping student entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to flourish.

The Sam Ibrahim Centre will leverage the university’s vast pool of research and innovation expertise and global networks to provide entrepreneurs at U of T Scarborough with connections, resources and learning opportunities that can help accelerate their ideas and ventures. It will also encourage student entrepreneurs to develop their ideas directly in Scarborough, helping to spur economic growth for the Eastern GTA.

“The University of Toronto is renowned for its entrepreneurship network,” said U of T President Meric Gertler. “Sam Ibrahim’s visionary partnership with the University will help us enhance our impact on innovation in the Eastern GTA and show the world that U of T Scarborough is a vibrant hub for amazing, inclusive excellence in entrepreneurship.

“At the Sam Ibrahim Centre, our student entrepreneurs will have what they need to start and grow the next generation of Canadian ventures.”

Campus-led accelerators at U of T Scarborough will be aligned to offer the complete portfolio of coaching for successful entrepreneurs at the Sam Ibrahim Centre, which will extend their reach and impact and foster new collaborations. The Sam Ibrahim Centre will allow U of T Scarborough to expand on the programming these accelerators offer, support outreach activities such as work-integrated learning opportunities and lecture series and enhance the Eastern GTA’s broader innovation ecosystem by creating a network of new entrepreneurial leaders in the region.

“This partnership with Sam Ibrahim will allow UTSC to play a key role in helping to develop the next generation of Scarborough-based entrepreneurs,” said Wisdom Tettey, U of T vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough. “A core mission of the Centre is to ensure its innovators embody leadership values that promote Sam and U of T’s commitments to inclusive and equitable communities. We are all excited about the enduring legacy of creativity and impact that this will ignite.”

Equity and inclusion will be central to the Sam Ibrahim Centre’s activities. As part of this core commitment, student entrepreneurs who face financial barriers will be eligible for three new awards generously established by Ibrahim as part of this investment: the Sam Ibrahim Awards, the Gabriel Fanous Awards, and the Shaemin Ukani Awards.

“The Sam Ibrahim Centre will help inspire UTSC’s students to dream big, chase the impossible – and bring others along with them,” said Neel Joshi, dean of student experience and wellbeing at U of T Scarborough. “It will be a place that ignites hope and serves as a catalyst for real economic change fueled by inclusive excellence.”

An architectural rendering of Arrow Innovation Hall, part of the future Sam Ibrahim Building (Rendering by CEBRA and ZAS ARCHTECTS + INTERIORS)

The centre will convene renowned leaders and experts, including through two new positions established by this investment: the Sam Ibrahim Chair in Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Innovation, who will lead the vision for the centre, and an entrepreneur-in-residence, who will provide valuable mentorship to up-and-coming innovators.

This new partnership will also support the construction of the Sam Ibrahim Building on Military Trail. Set to open in 2024, the building will act as a central hub for U of T Scarborough’s North Campus, housing the Sam Ibrahim Centre as well as Student Services offices and spaces for the department of computer and mathematical sciences.

“Scarborough is home to so many young people with great ideas,” Ibrahim said. “As a Scarborough entrepreneur myself, I want to make sure that the next generation can start and scale their ventures right here.”

Ibrahim is a noted business leader in Scarborough who strongly believes in the capabilities of the community and is deeply invested in it. He is the president and general manager of the Arrow Group of Companies, which provides strategic consulting and talent solutions to a wide range of industries. He is also a familiar face at U of T Scarborough as the co-founder of the Scarborough Shooting Stars, the first Greater Toronto Area-based franchise of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). The Shooting Stars play at the campus’s Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

This is one of the largest contributions ever received by U of T Scarborough and Ibrahim’s first to the university, making it one of the largest ever to U of T from a first-time donor.

“I would like to thank Sam Ibrahim for his vision,” said David Palmer, vice-president, advancement. “His philanthropic investment is one of the largest ever for the Eastern GTA and is sure to inspire others to support Scarborough’s diverse and growing community at this exciting time for the region.”

Ibrahim’s philanthropic investment is contributing to Defy Gravity: The Campaign for the University of Toronto. Under the banner of inclusive excellence, Defy Gravity seeks to harness the power of the university’s worldwide community of alumni, faculty, students and supporters to create the talent, innovations and solutions for today’s most pressing challenges. As the largest advancement campaign in Canadian history, Defy Gravity is raising the bar for engagement and charitable giving in this country and fueling U of T’s mission as one of the world’s largest engines of social mobility and progress.

Courtesy of UofT News