Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Pilot Program Expert Panel

Ajay Agrawal is the Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, co-founder of The Next 36 and founder of the Creative Destruction Lab. He teaches courses on business strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. He was recognized as Professor of the Year by the Rotman School’s graduating MBA class seven times. Professor Agrawal conducts research on the economics of innovation and creativity.

Barry Gekiere has over 25 years of experience in senior management positions in venture capital, private equity and operating companies. Prior to joining MaRS Discovery District, he was a partner at Ventures West Capital Ltd., one of Canada’s largest and longest-standing venture capital firms. During his 13 years at Ventures West, Mr. Gekiere worked closely with entrepreneurs while making early-stage technology investments in IT, communications, cleantech and medical device companies. Prior to Ventures West, he had experience as a partner in two private equity firms specializing in expansion-stage financing and leveraged buyouts.

Grant J. Kook, C.Dir., S.O.M., is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westcap Mgt. Ltd., Saskatchewan’s largest private venture capital fund manager, with over $540 million under management. He has been an advocate for designing, developing, capitalizing and managing a specialized family of funds that fill capital gaps in the western Canadian economy. The funds under management are individually focused on early-stage innovation, venture capital or growth, management buyouts, infrastructure, and First Nations sectors of the economy. Mr. Kook is also the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cheung On Investments Group Ltd., an international investor syndicate fund that was founded in 1989 and rated as one of the top 100 companies in Saskatchewan.

Senia Rapisarda is an experienced institutional investor who is presently consulting for HarbourVest in order to establish and lead its Canadian efforts. She was Vice-President, Strategic Initiatives and Investments at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) from 2010 to 2013. In this role, Ms.  Rapisarda led BDC’s efforts to develop a healthy venture capital ecosystem in Canada through several key strategic initiatives and investments, investing over $40 million in first-time funds and start-ups. Ms.  Rapisarda has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications and technology sectors, including as senior advisor at NUR Energie, a London-based investment fund specialized in renewable energy, and as Managing Director of the Technology Private Equity Team at Nomura International, managing over US$300 million of investments in 42 companies across Europe, Israel and the United States.

John Stokes is a founding partner at Real Ventures, Canada’s largest and most active seed venture fund, and is also the co-founder of FounderFuel, one of the country’s top tech accelerators. He co-founded or established regional operations for a number of software, Internet and media companies in New Zealand (, South Africa (Brightpoint SA / MTN PAYG), Malaysia (Aethos Asia Pacific) and Japan (Livedoor and Vogue Planet). Mr. Stokes also founded Piermont Ventures Ltd., a Hong Kong–based boutique investment and advisory business that advised entrepreneurs and invested in their start-ups.

ASEAN Delegation Wraps up First Trade Visit to Canada

Strengthening Canada-ASEAN economic ties through trade promotion a key component of Canada’s ambitious pro-trade plan to boost exports.

June 5, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today thanked the delegates from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) who travelled to Canada to see first-hand the opportunities available to grow the Canada-ASEAN trade and investment partnership. Ministers, high-ranking officials and business representatives from the 10-nation economic bloc visited Vancouver and Toronto for five days to witness Canada’s expertise in transportation infrastructure, strong banking and financial services, energy, manufacturing and high technology.

During their visit, the delegates met with entrepreneurs and stakeholders and toured Port Metro Vancouver—Canada’s Asia-Pacific gateway—from which the sailing time to Asia is up to three days shorter than from other major ports in the Americas. The delegates also observed some of the exciting innovations and technologies being produced at Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Energy in Toronto.

Promoting trade and connecting Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to international markets and value chains is part of the Global Markets Action Plan to boost exports and create jobs and opportunities.

Minister Fast also announced that he will attend the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Naypyidaw, Burma, in August.

Quick Facts

  • With over 600 million people, ASEAN is composed of 10 Southeast Asian countries—Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—representing multiple key markets identified by Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan.
  • In 2013, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and ASEAN countries grew by 7.3 percent over 2012 and totalled almost $17 billion, an increase of more than 30 percent during the last five years.
  • In August 2012, Canada launched the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) to grow trade and investment ties. The CABC held the first Canada-ASEAN Business Forum in Singapore in October 2013.
  • Minister Fast travelled four times to various ASEAN countries in 2013.
  • ASEAN has long been a key partner of Canada’s in the Asia-Pacific region. Canada marks 37 years as an ASEAN Dialogue Partner in 2014, making the country one of the association’s longest-standing partners.


“We are continuing to strengthen Canada-ASEAN economic ties, raising the relationship to a whole new level. I am confident that over the past week new opportunities have arisen and partnerships have been forged, reinforcing our people-to-people ties and creating jobs and prosperity.”

– Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade

“We were pleased to be invited by Minister Fast to Canada to see the tremendous opportunities for collaboration with Canada. We look forward to the continued deepening of our relationship and welcome Canada’s effective engagement and presence within ASEAN, and ASEAN-based institutions, in the coming years.”

– Lim Hong Hin, Deputy Secretary-General, Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Associated Links


Shannon Gutoskie
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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