Program Benefits

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious business award programs, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® program celebrates the country’s most transformative and innovative business leaders.

Participation in the program elevates your company’s brand awareness through exposure to other game-changing entrepreneurs, sponsors, influential judges and guests. Many of them may be seeking customers, alliances, M&A or other growth opportunities — the Entrepreneur Of The Year program could be your chance to open those doors.

The program helps you build trust with investors, employees and customers, and gives you the opportunity to celebrate achievements and publicly recognize the invaluable contributions of the team who made it possible.

Entrepreneur Of The Year top regional entrepreneurs and Canadian winners receive great publicity in and beyond their communities, which contributes to valuable network-building. It’s not just an award — it’s a robust ecosystem of leaders and 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 your accomplishments as the founder/leader of the business, and also the successes of the company as a whole and the team who has supported you in your journey. Bragging is encouraged. This is not the time to be humble.

Understand how you will be evaluated. The judges will consider entrepreneurial spirit, value creation, strategic direction, national and global impact, innovation and purpose-driven leadership. It’s a balanced scorecard. Keep these traits in mind and emphasize them throughout your narrative. Be as clear and thorough as possible, bringing out the energy that made you the success you are today.

Tell your story. Paint a 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 those who cannot convey the impressive milestones they have achieved. If you have a PR or marketing team, they can be highly valuable in this process.

Be concise. Stay within the word count limit.

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

Be persuasive. This is your opportunity to convince the judges why you should be a Canadian 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 “insider speak” like company jargon that’s unclear outside your business.

Meet the nomination deadline. Careful planning and preparation will help you get your nomination in on time. Our online nomination form helps to make it faster and easier.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the nomination timeline?

    Nominations run from November 2, 2020 until April 16, 2021.

  • Who can be nominated?

    • The nominee must be an owner or CEO of a private or public company, primarily responsible for the company’s recent performance and an active member of top management.
    • Non-founding entrepreneurs are also eligible if the individual manages the business and assumes the associated risks.
    • Co-nominees are eligible if they share leadership responsibilities at the company.
    • The nominee must have been in their current role for at least two years, dating back from the time of the application deadline in April.
    • The nominee’s company must be at least three years old. However, for Emerging Entrepreneurs we accept nominees from companies aged two to five years.
  • Who can submit a nomination?

    Anyone who is associated with an entrepreneur in some capacity — including an employee, banker, lawyer, manager, spouse, friend, marketing coordinator or customer. You can also nominate yourself — because after all, who knows your success story better than you?

  • Can I have someone on my team complete the nomination form on my behalf?

    Yes. 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.

  • Why participate?

    • Join a global community and connect with innovative and influential business leaders cutting across all industries and sectors.
    • Access peer-to-peer learning experiences, workshops and roundtable discussions with others in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year ecosystem.
    • Celebrate and recognize the team and support network that helped your entrepreneurial journey.
    • Elevate your company’s brand and increase exposure to potential customers and suppliers, M&A opportunities, private equity and venture capital investors.
    • Receive an exclusive invitation to the EY Strategic Growth Forum®.
  • 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, Québec and Atlantic.

    You must be nominated in the region where your company is headquartered. 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 cost associated with the program?

    There is no fee.

  • What kind of time commitments are expected from me if I participate?

    If you are named a semifinalist or Canadian finalist, the estimated time commitment is between 12 and 20 hours. See below or download the Entrepreneur of the Year Program Timeline.

    January 4 Program launch
    April 16 Nominations close
    April 19-30 Judging phase one: semifinalists determined
    May 3 - June 4 Semifinalist interviews with EY
    June 7-18 Regional semifinalist event
    June 21-25 Meet the judges: interviews
    July Top regional entrepreneurs announced
    July - December Company Award Plaques distributed to top regional entrepreneur
    September/October Regional celebration
    November National awards celebration
    EY Strategic Growth Forum®
    June 2022 EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™
  • What information is required?

    See a snapshot of the information required.

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

    All information provided in the nomination form and otherwise will be reviewed by the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year team and shared with the independent panel of judges, who sign a confidentiality agreement and do not retain any documentation. 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 company description you provide. Any other public disclosure of information will not be made without your consent.

  • Is the financial information necessary?

    Yes, the financial information is an important quantifiable indicator of success for the independent panel of judges. Without it, you can’t be evaluated.

  • 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 remains confidential. Financial information is an important quantifiable indicator of success available to the independent panel of judges. 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 the founder is considered a professional manager rather than an entrepreneur.

  • What if our company has multiple founders?

    Multiple nominees on an application are acceptable. However, each additional nominee must be added in the one nomination form in the designated section.

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

    EY 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, you must have been in your current role for at least two years, dating back from the time of the application deadline in April. We'll look at what you've done since taking the reins. Many winners have been second- or third-generation entrepreneurs.

  • How are award recipients selected?

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

    An independent panel of judges will assess award nominees based on the following criteria:

    • Entrepreneurial spirit
    • Value creation
    • Strategic direction
    • National and global impact
    • Innovation
    • Purpose-driven leadership

    The completeness with which the nomination form is prepared is of significant importance in the judging process and will have a material bearing on whether you advance in the program.

  • Who selects the top regional entrepreneurs and Canadian winners?

    The judges are past EY Entrepreneur Of The Year participants, and business and community leaders. Each region has its own panel of judges, who will choose their region’s top entrepreneurs, in addition to a national panel, who will choose the 10 Canadian winners from the top regional entrepreneur pool. One of the 10 winners will be named Canada’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year. 

  • 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 as the entire world and business community tackle a global pandemic, we know there will be inevitable ups and downs to 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. EY 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.
    • The nominee has a history that’s clear of any criminal or other serious issues and their business and brand values match those of the Entrepreneur Of The Year program.

Entrepreneurial Winning Women

Discover the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program, which identifies successful women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale and provides them with the support, resources and access to help accelerate their growth.

 Discover more


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Canada Program Brochure