Prime Minister Justin Trudeau singled out the University of Waterloo for being a great source of “brilliant minds and brilliant ideas” in a speech to world leaders and business elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“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,” said Trudeau. “And it values entrepreneurship. But diversity is its indispensable ingredient.

“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,” he added.

Trudeau and several of his cabinet ministers are at the annual summit in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland with the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities focused on shaping global, regional and industry agendas.

​Trudeau prefaced his remarks by reminding world leaders that the president of Y Combinator, a major Silicon Valley startup funder, named the University of Waterloo as a school that “stood out as a source of graduates with sparkling new ideas.”

Trudeau’s speech stressed to the world leaders that diversity is the foundation of all innovation.

“Many of you have reached out to me recently in thanks for Canada’s compassionate response to the Syrian refugee crisis.  But let me tell you something. When I welcomed those families to Toronto last month, I welcomed them as new Canadians and as the future of the Canadian economy,” said Trudeau.

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

This year's summit is focused on the idea of the "fourth industrial revolution," the idea that rapid technological innovation will drive a new era of change in the global economy. In introducing Trudeau, Professor Klaus Schwab, executive chair of the World Economic Forum, said, “I couldn’t imagine anyone who could represent more the world that will come out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau during a recent visit to the University of Waterloo.


Following his remarks to forum members, Trudeau was scheduled to sit down with George Soros, the famed international financier, as well as officials with Facebook and Microsoft.