Accelerate 2024


February 6-7, 2024
National Arts Centre
Ottawa, ON

Accelerate 2024 is where academia, industry and government come together to shape Canada’s social and economic renewal. It is a platform where ideas transform into actionable collaborations, fostering a collective commitment to address real-world problems and propel Canada forward. Thematic sessions on housing, healthcare and artificial intelligence aim to accelerate cross-sector collaborations to engineer innovative solutions to critical challenges facing Canada.

Accelerate represents a pivotal opportunity to engage in strategic conversations with stakeholders from private and public sectors, national organizations, granting councils and university leaders.


February 7, 2024

9 – 9:30 a.m.


9:30 – 9:45 a.m.
Opening remarks

  • Philip Landon, interim president and CEO, Universities Canada


9:45 – 11 a.m.

Addressing everyday challenges: the pivotal role of AI

Artificial Intelligence has emerged as an agent of change. Its impact will increasingly be felt in higher education, the labour market, across all sectors and in the everyday life of Canadians. While risks associated with AI are regularly discussed in media, opportunities exist to leverage AI to address both daily and global challenges. This session will explore the pivotal role of AI and its ongoing development to drive change, economic prosperity and identify solutions to the most pressing challenges today.

Moderator: Graham Carr, president, Concordia University

  • Mark Daley, chief AI officer, Western University
  • Julie Hussin, associate academic member, Mila – Quebec AI Institute; Université de Montréal
  • Adegboyega Ojo, Canada Research Chair in Governance and Artificial Intelligence, Carleton University


11 – 11:15 a.m.


11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Thought leadership and Canadian healthcare: partnerships for solutions

Primary healthcare in Canada is in crisis. One in six Canadians lack a regular family physician. Surgeries are backlogged. Emergency rooms across the country are routinely overwhelmed. Systemic changes are needed. Are there ways to address the healthcare crisis beyond public funding? What is the impact of technologies? What collaborative and innovative efforts between universities the healthcare sector can tackle systemic challenges and health human resources? This session will explore these questions and what can be done to advance solutions for Canadian and communities across the country.

Moderator: Joy Johnson, president, Simon Fraser University

  • Katherine Frohlich, scientific director, CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health
  • Darryl Galusha, CEO, Geralton District Hospital
  • Luigi Lepanto, investigative researcher, Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal


12:30 – 1:45 p.m.


1:45 – 3 p.m.
Leadership across sectors to address Canada’s housing crisis

In 2023, the Government of Canada acknowledged a housing crisis. Across the country, home costs have skyrocketed, and the issue has grown to become a key concern for citizens, industry and policymakers at all levels of government. A full housing plan is expected in 2024, but it has yet to be shared. What does Canada need to address the crisis and how can key actors from across sectors do to advance solutions. How can universities and ongoing research support the work that is already being done or that still needs to happen? This session will explore these questions and how addressing the housing can still ensure sustainable, eco-friendly urban development that aligns with broader environmental goals.

Moderator: Paul Mazerolle, president, University of New Brunswick

  • Ian Arthur, founder and president, nidus3D
  • Laurent Levesque, co-founder and CEO, UTILE
  • Catherine McKenney, co-founder, CitySHAPES


3 – 3:15 p.m.


3:15 – 4 p.m.
Keynote speaker

In most jurisdictions across Canada, public funding for universities has declined or failed to keep pace with inflation. Federal investment in university research is failing to keep pace with research investments in other countries. At the same time, universities are increasingly being positioned in populist rhetoric as “woke” or out of touch with the needs of everyday Canadians. Yet, fundamental and applied research is being advanced to address the everyday problems facing Canadians and our graduates elevate the national capacity to overcome these challenges. Paul Wells will deliver keynote remarks looking at the current climate in which universities are operating, the challenges they face and share reflections on pathways forward.

  • Rhonda Lenton, president, York University (introduction)
  • Paul Wells, political journalist


4 – 4:15 p.m.
Closing remarks

  • Philip Landon, interim president and CEO, Universities Canada
Universities Canada