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Why participate?

I have ideas and solutions

Innovation and productivity are the drivers of economic growth. They thrive where diverse networks of businesses, ideas, people and organizations interact; consider the Ideas Festival as the collision of the minds that instigates change.

I care about the future of Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada's aging demographic means young people need to increasingly take on positions of leadership in business and government. The need to collaborate has never been greater to build that critical mass required to attract foreign investment, build economies of scale and repatriate our talent.

The world is changing rapidly everyday

The rapid pace of economic and social change, including the rise of developing countries, is forcing us to more effectively stimulate, communicate and apply new ideas. Importantly, there is no consensus around which ideas should be used.

Mathieu LeBlanc

In 2006, while working for a forestry consulting firm in the Ottawa region, Mathieu decided to move back to the Maritimes to start his own forestry management company ‘’ACFOR’’ in the midst of the worst forestry crisis in history.

Mathieu describes himself as a social entrepreneur, to further environmental and social goals. ACFOR ‘’Acronym for Acadian Forest’’ restores and increases the quality of the Acadian Forest through sustainable forestry management.

Mathieu recently founded a second company with Dick Arsenault from Wellinton PEI. ACFOR Energy delivers renewable heat to commercial buildings and rural communities with wood biomass, using the most advanced biomass boilers in the world.

ACFOR’s success has been recognized many times with awards. Mathieu was recently named in the top 20 under 40 by the Canadian Forest Industries.

Yves Bourgeois


Dr. Yves Bourgeois is director of the Urban and community studies institute (UCSI) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Yves has published numerous works internationally on innovation and economic development. His overarching interest is how regions create value and jobs from technological change. He holds a PhD in Regional and international development from UCLA, and masters degrees from Edinburgh and Oxford Universities. Yves also has ten years experience in the private and public sectors, including work with Microsoft and the Canadian parliament.

He is currently funded by SSHRC to study technology company growth in European and North American regions that are producing large-scale renewable energy. In another SSHRC funded project he is studying the role of digital skills in enabling and limiting youth integration into the labour market. He also chairs the New Brunswick rural and urban transportation advisory committee to develop a sustainable transportation strategy for that province. All three projects have strong implications for community and environmental sustainability.

Mélissa Basque


Mélissa Basque is originally from Tracadie, New Brunswick; she has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a bachelor's in multidisciplinary studies from the University of Sherbrooke, Québec. She started her career in the private sector, working in the area of human resources in Montréal. She then worked for the government at the Québec Workplace Health and Safety Commission (CSST). When she decided she wanted to return to New Brunswick, she was lucky enough to find positions at Entreprise Restigouche and then CBDC Restigouche. 

For more than a year, Ms. Basque has been the Project Coordinator for Déplacement Péninsule, a community transportation service which is part of the Acadian Peninsula's Community Inclusion Network (RIC-PA). This opportunity was perfect for Ms. Basque, enabling her to return to the region where she was born and to contribute to her community. Déplacement Péninsule was launched in June 2015, when it provided its first ride. Ms. Basque hopes to develop community transportation services more widely throughout the Acadian Peninsula. 

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"Many aspire to do what you have done and none in my experience come anywhere close to the high standard of inspiration exchange and impact you have created."

- Lea Bryden, VP accountability and citizen engagement, Capital Health

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