Canada proves land of opportunity for famous immigrant inventors

December 6, 2018

By Vancouver Sun |

Ask the leader of any technology company and they’ll tell you that hiring engineers, data scientists or mathematicians is one of their biggest challenges. STEM careers are the fastest growing part of the labour market, and some estimates put the need for technology workers at 216,000 jobs by 2021. To explore the talent gap, the FP talked to innovators who have left Canada to pursue opportunities with big multinational companies, and also those who have moved here to be a part of this country’s digital transformation. You can find all of our coverage here.

Although the United States often bills itself as the land of opportunity, Canada is no slouch when it comes to immigrant inventors. The country ranked seventh in terms of the number of immigrants who held patents between 2000 and 2010, according to a 2016 National Foundation for American Policy report. Historically, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the first practical telephone, might be the most famous immigrant inventor to grace these shores, but there are plenty of more recent examples and they come to Canada for many reasons.

Here are a handful of them:

Tobias Lütke, chief executive and co-founder, Shopify Inc.

Lütke was a programming prodigy in his native Germany, but followed his heart and moved to Canada in 2002 at the age of 22. Initially, he wanted to build an e-commerce site to sell snowboards, but found the available tools lacking so he built his own. Those tools became the foundation of the online shopping portal Shopify, one of the most successful Canadian startups ever.

Maninder Dhaliwal, chief executive, Lions Gate International

Dhaliwal was born in India and came to Vancouver in 1999 to study engineering at the University of British Columbia. Her master’s degree helped her find work, but she eventually decided to strike out on her own in 2013, co-founding Lions Gate, which specializes in India-focused international venture projects in technology, manufacturing and infrastructure.

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