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Business growth and longevity: leveraging knowledge and expertise

January 31, 2014, 1:19pm

A rather remarkable event, organized by Campus Montréal, was held on January 22. People often seem to think that universities and SMEs come from different planets. To prove the contrary, a lunchtime conference brought together players from both sides to share their thoughts and to explore the role universities play in the longevity and growth of Montreal’s SMEs.

One year ago, Campus Montréal launched a drive to increase philanthropic funding with the goal of raising $500 million. This major fundraising campaign is also a chance for universities to build stronger ties with the community. Hosting this event was an opportunity to show that SMEs and universities have a vested interest in maintaining strong ties with each other. This is one of the conclusions that emerged from the round table discussions, which included Christiane Germain and Gaétan Frigon, two successful entrepreneurs, and Michel Patry, Director of HEC Montréal.

My sincere gratitude goes to Amir Karim, a member of the Campus Montréal Executive Cabinet, who came up with the idea for this conference and agreed to publish his speech as a blog post.


My name is Amir Karim and I am the Vice-President for Business Development at Polykar, a family-owned company founded by my parents 27 years ago here in Quebec. It has grown to become one of Canada’s leading manufacturers of plastic bags and food packaging. We have also been developing expertise in the production of composting bags and in plastics recycling.

I am part of Campus Montréal’s Executive Cabinet due to my status as an MBA graduate from HEC Montréal, but also because I strongly believe in the tradition of giving back to one’s alma mater and of being involved to improve the society in which we live.

Ladies and gentlemen, on January third, La Presse published an article about the lack of philanthropists in Quebec (“Le Québec en mal de mécènes”). Today’s event goes to show that the level of individual generosity in Quebec is not the issue; it may simply be that we don’t pay enough attention to the entrepreneurs and the business people who are tightly woven into the very economic fabric of Quebec. Yet another aspect that proves what a truly distinct society we are!

Like me, you are all successful entrepreneurs, business people and leaders. And speaking for myself, I know that my success is largely a result of the education I received. We, more than anyone else, are able to make the connection between high-quality education, experience and success.

You also know that, in the rapidly evolving knowledge society in which we live, we must have world-class universities if we want Quebec to become one of the world’s most prosperous societies.

This is why the presence of so many of you here today is a significant step, as we seek to build a strong relationship between the academic and entrepreneurial communities. We hope that you will be among the many to support Campus Montréal.

Thank you for coming today.

Amir Karim
Vice-President, Business Development, Polykar Industries Inc.
Executive Cabinet, Campus Montréal


I too wish to thank all the SME owners who attended the conference as well as the Executive Cabinet members who helped out. Nearly 200 leaders from the business and academic communities gathered to show their support for Campus Montréal. I invite you to watch the following video showcasing some of our outstanding entrepreneurial talent.

John Parisella

Photo credit: Martin Laprise

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