Program Benefits

Recognized as one of the most prestigious business award programs in the country, the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Awards celebrate the country’s most innovative business leaders.

Participation in the awards process elevates your company’s brand awareness through exposure to entrepreneurs, sponsors, judges and guests, many of whom may be seeking customers, alliances, M&A or other growth opportunities. The program credentials you to investors, employees, and customers and gives you the opportunity to celebrate achievements and publicly recognize the contributions of the team who made it possible

Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners receive great publicity in and beyond their communities, which contributes to valuable network-building. It is not just an award — it is an ongoing community of leadership through alumni events, access to advisors, speaking engagements and media profiles and interviews.


Nomination tips

A strong and well-written nomination is powerful and compelling to the judges. Consider these important points when completing a nomination form:

It’s about you! This is an opportunity for you and your company to receive well-deserved recognition for the many accomplishments of the past few years. The judges want to hear about both your individual accomplishments as well as the successes of the company. Bragging is encouraged. This is not the time to be humble.

Understand how you will be evaluated. The judges will consider entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, personal integrity, financial performance, strategic direction, market impact and social responsibility. It is a balanced scorecard. Keep these traits in mind and emphasize them throughout your essays.

Tell a story. Paint a unique picture of your history, entrepreneurial spirit and accomplishments. Use vivid language and create an engaging story. Nominees who have interesting, well-told stories have an advantage over nominees who cannot convey the impressive milestones they have achieved. If you have a PR team, they can be valuable in this process.

Be concise. Stay within the word count limit, as the regional judging panel includes entrepreneurs and prominent business leaders who have limited time to review a large number of applicants.

Demonstrate results. Make sure your achievements are measurable. Quantify and expand on your growth in the essay portion with specific numbers, percentages and statistics.

Compare yourself to the industry. Not all judges will be experts in your field, so make sure they know how you stack up to the competition and how you differentiate yourself in the market. Tell your story as if you were talking to a stranger.

Be persuasive. This is your opportunity to convince the judges why you should be a finalist and ultimately an award recipient. So put on your best marketing hat and remember to be authentic.

Polish and edit. Improper grammar and misspelled words distract from the quality of the nomination, so make sure to proof your work. Help the judges understand you and your company better by effectively explaining what your company does in a simple manner. Spell out any acronyms and avoid company jargon.

Meet the nomination deadline. Careful planning and preparation will ensure that your nomination is received on time. You may nominate an entrepreneur using our online nomination form or download a PDF of the form.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who can be nominated?

    A nominee must be:

    • The nominee must be an owner or CEO or equivalent who’s primarily responsible for the recent performance of the company
    • The company must be at least two years old
    • The nominee must be nominated in the region in which the company is headquartered

    Previous EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award recipients may be nominated again in a different category in their respective region.

  • Who can submit a nomination?

    Anyone who is associated with an entrepreneur in some capacity (EY professional, employee, banker, lawyer, manager, spouse, friends) can submit a nomination. And you can even nominate yourself. After all, who knows your success story better than you?

  • If my company has locations in different regions, where would I submit the nomination?

    Given the unique character of the different markets across Canada, Entrepreneur Of The Year seeks nominations in five regions: Pacific (BC and the territories), Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

    The region of your nomination will be determined by the location of the company’s headquarters/head office. Typically, that’s where the business’s owner/CEO/CEO-equivalent is located. This helps ensure consistency for all nominations across Canada.

  • Is there a fee to nominate?

    There is no fee.

  • What if I don’t have time to complete all the required information?

    Most times, businesses have established shareholder relations or marketing departments that have already compiled most of the required information. Your company may delegate the preparation of the nomination responses to someone in your organization. If you are selected as a nominee, your commitment will be a two-hour interview on your premises in May, and an evening reception in June to meet the judges and the other nominees.

  • Is the nomination form confidential? Who has access to the financials?

    All information provided in the nomination form or otherwise will be reviewed by the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year organizers and shared with the independent judges. Financial information (i.e. specific financial information other than information described in a range) will only be shared with the independent judges, who sign a confidentiality agreement and do not retain any documentation, and with the EY principles involved in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards program. No detailed financial information will be shared with the program sponsors.

    In our promotional material, we may refer to your participation in the program and include the brief corporate description you provide. Any other public disclosure of information will not be made without your consent.

    The completeness with which the nomination form is prepared will have a material bearing on whether or not your company advances to finalist status.

  • Is the financial information necessary?

    Yes, we do need the financial information. Entrepreneur Of The Year is designed to honour business success, so we need measurable criteria. In other words, the company must demonstrate some quantitatively measured success or sustainability.

  • The financial status of my company is confidential and I can’t release this information. Can I still compete?

    Historically, the majority of nominees have represented private companies with confidential financial information. The limited financial information requested is confidential and the judging process is objective. Financial information will be used to compute growth ratios, return on investment, etc. Please complete the form in its entirety and describe your company growth as accurately as possible.

  • Does my company have to be privately owned?

    No. If your company went public and the founder/CEO/CEO-equivalent is still active in management, you qualify. If the founder has no equity remaining in the public company, the story needs to be reviewed to determine if he or she is considered a professional manager rather than an entrepreneur.

  • What if our company has multiple founders?

    Due to the nature of the media announcements and award banquets, it's best to identify one individual who will be the main contact. Multiple-nominee applications are acceptable but must include information for each individual nominee.

  • My company has been in business for over 20 years, and I was not the founder. Would I qualify as an entrepreneur?

    Entrepreneur Of The Year honours individuals primarily responsible for the growth of the business, whether they are the founder or the current CEO or CEO-equivalent. The intent is to recognize the creativity, drive and hard work of business leaders. If you’re not the original founder, we'll look at what you've done since taking the reins. Many winners have been second- or third-generation entrepreneurs.

  • What are the award categories?

    The awards fall into three main groups: industry awards, specialty awards, and the lifetime achievement award.

    Industry awards:

    • Business-to-business products and services
    • Business-to-consumer products and services
    • Cleantech
    • Energy (natural resources, chemicals, services)
    • Health sciences (life sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals)
    • Hospitality/tourism
    • Information technology (software, e-business, security)
    • Manufacturing
    • Media and entertainment (publishing, advertising, production)
    • Mining and metals
    • Professional/financial services
    • Real estate/construction
    • Technology and communications (telecom, semiconductors, infrastructure)

    Specialty awards:

    • Emerging – Company is less than five years old
    • Turnaround– Managed a positive reversal of financial or market fortune
    • Young – Someone who is 30 years old or younger

    If this describes you or someone you know, the next step is easy!

    Submit your online nomination today!

    Self-nominations are encouraged.

    Lifetime achievement award:

    The lifetime achievement award honours a person who has made an enduring contribution to Canadian business over many years. This very special award broadens the scope of Entrepreneur Of The Year by recognizing Canadians of such a high calibre that they transcend any specific category award.

    Past lifetime achievement recipients include Mel Woodward, Ted Rogers, Paul Desmarais, Jim Pattison, Wallace McCain, Laurent Beaudoin, Art DeFehr, William Sauder and Ed Mirvish.

  • How many award categories may I select?

    Please select the category you feel best reflects the nature of your business. The judges will make the final selection based on the nature, quantity and quality of all the nominated businesses in each region. If you select all the categories for which you qualify, your company will be analyzed for each. The judges will use their best judgment to place you where you will compete best.

  • Who selects the finalists and recipients?

    An independent panel of judges comprising fellow entrepreneurs, past EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award recipients, and leading figures from the business and academic communities will select the finalists and award recipients. Each region has its own panel of judges.

  • What criteria do the judges consider?

    The independent judging panels consider a great many business and personal accomplishments. For example:

    • Financial performance: A strong track record of financial performance, including raising equity and debt financing.
    • Vision: The ability to create a business concept and implement it effectively.
    • Leadership: The focus and strength of character that enable the entrepreneur to move forward — and inspire a team to do the same.
    • Innovation: Driving business success by pioneering new approaches and investing in ongoing research and development.
    • Personal integrity and influence: Knowing that commitment and responsibility aren’t confined to business, and putting energy and resources to work in giving back to the community.
    • Entrepreneurial spirit: Setting high standards and demonstrating a desire to be successful, taking risks and overcoming significant obstacles, and demonstrating perseverance and learning from experience.
  • Why would I want to participate?

    Participation in Entrepreneur Of The Year offers a number of potential benefits, including the following:

    • A boost to your corporate reputation — an advantage perk for your PR, marketing, recruitment and retention efforts, and for relations with your investors and customers
    • Media exposure — locally, regionally and even nationally — and other enhanced publicity
    • Heightened morale across your organization
    • Significant networking opportunities with industry leaders, other successful entrepreneurs, program sponsors, judges and EY professionals
    • Access to industry-related thought leadership, information sessions and panel discussions
  • How much does the overall economic climate affect the judging?

    The judges always take the general economic climate into consideration when evaluating companies’ recent performance. This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Entrepreneur Of The Year in Canada. And during that time, we’ve seen the inevitable ups and downs of the business cycle. Seeking to celebrate the great things that businesses do, we focus on success.

    When the economy is emerging from a downturn, entrepreneurs who have shown that they steered through challenges and held their own — or even grown — are worthy of recognition. Entrepreneur Of The Year recognizes tough, determined, resilient people who persevere through circumstances beyond their control.

    Entrepreneurs are the trailblazers who lead the way and build the future — and are the catalysts for positive change. We celebrate entrepreneurship as the key to economic recovery. In tough times more than ever, entrepreneurs need to be recognized.

  • Why am I asked for a background check?

    Background checks are performed to ensure that:

    • The nominee’s identity is confirmed; and
    • The nominee has a clean history and their business and brand values match those of the Entrepreneur® Of The Year program.