Trudeau Praises University of Waterloo for Brilliant Minds and Ideas on World Stage
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Trudeau Praises University of Waterloo for Brilliant Minds and Ideas on World Stage


The University of Waterloo received a global shout out from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his keynote speech at the World Economic Forum conference on January 20th in Davos, Switzerland.

Singling out Waterloo for being a source of “brilliant minds and brilliant ideas,” Trudeau asked “Why does Silicon Valley look to (the University of Waterloo) as a great source of brilliant minds and brilliant ideas? Well, it has high intellectual standards, of course. And it values entrepreneurship. But diversity is its indispensable ingredient.”

Trudeau prefaced his comments by sharing with the audience – an elite group of political and business leaders – that Sam Altman, president of Silicon Valley’s renowned tech accelerator Y Combinator, named the University of Waterloo as the school who “stood out in terms of students and graduates who ideas took off”.

Last year, Altman, who attended Stanford University, in his interview with New York Times Sunday Review op-ed columnist  Frank Bruni, commended the University of Waterloo and the eight high tech startups founded by Waterloo Engineering students that Y Combinator had funded.

Trudeau, fresh from a visit to the University of Waterloo the previous week, praised Waterloo for its diverse student population.

“Their students come from everywhere. Fully half the graduate engineering students are international. And the University of Waterloo’s domestic students are drawn from Canada’s student population — one of the most diverse in the world,” said Trudeau.  

Diversity was a central theme in Trudeau’s speech both in population and in economic strength. Distancing Canada from the perceived notion the nation is all about “resources” he said Canada is about “resourcefulness.”

“Diversity isn't just sound social policy. Diversity is the engine of invention. It generates creativity that enriches the world.” 

What Sam Altman said about University of Waterloo

“I asked Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, one of the best-known providers of first-step seed money for tech start-ups if any one school stood out in terms of students and graduates whose ideas took off. “Yes,” he responded, and I was sure of the name I’d hear next: Stanford. It’s his alma mater, though he left before he graduated, and it’s famous as a feeder of Silicon Valley success.

But this is what he said: “The University of Waterloo.” It’s a public school in the Canadian province of Ontario, and as of last summer, it was the source of eight proud ventures that Y Combinator had helped along.”