The Canadian Ecosystem Institute quickly establishing itself as leader in Asian-Canadian business community

ABOVE: Hanson Zeng is VP of Market Research at CEI.

The Canadian Ecosystem Institute (CEI) is a communications and marketing research firm committed to connecting Canadian and Chinese business opportunities. Founded in 2020, CEI operates across Canada and China with bases in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Its core management team are fluent in Chinese (Mandarin) and English and all have extensive experience between both countries. CEI President and CEO Chris Pereira is an experienced strategy and communications professional from Canada with 15 years of business experience in China. 

CEI brings together people and resources in Canada and China, enabling business success while fostering a supportive network. The company provides content, ecosystem, business intelligence and research support needed by its clients to effectively brand themselves in the marketplace, to grow their business and attract investment.

The strength of CEI is the combination of their experience combined with their perspectives on sustainability as a business principle and model. They advise clients on the trends, opportunities, and steps to incorporate “sustainability” into the DNA of their company.

Hanson Zeng is VP of Market Research at CEI. He leads a team who compile business intelligence and research data and publish papers designed to help Chinese and other international companies integrate into the Canadian business market. Part of their work is to raise the awareness of entrepreneurs and investors on new ideas and opportunities. The information published in their white papers is just one of the many tools they use to provide value so entrepreneurs and investors can make informed business decisions. Zeng says that knowing how to access,assess and properly use information is critical for any business. “Businesses need to know what consumers want. For example, if 40% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products tied to sustainability then a company will need to know the practical steps to take to be part of that. CEI operates as a bridge between cultures and businesses”, says Zeng. “We offer value through the content, network and knowledge we provide clients.”

Zeng points to the fact that climate change and sustainable development goals have become key drivers in today’s economy and that sustainability is an important business principle driving investments in Canada. “It is critical for Chinese and Asian businesses investing in Canada to understand how sustainability is perceived here and how it is working as a business function." The CEI's sustainability guide notes the importance of sustainable strategy for business and provides direction towards developing and implementing a sustainability strategy for any enterprise.

Note: Sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations in the 1980s, is “development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition, and the international need to work towards it, has been widely accepted by governments, NGOs, and the private sector— and recently reaffirmed in 2015 with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Zeng explains that there are business and bottom-line benefits adhering to the sustainability business model. He cites the ride sharing business as one example. “A ride sharing company can make profits, gain social sustainability and be electric all at the same time. The issue is how do they become all those things — we can help them do that. Ride sharing is a business, but it is can also be a way to contribute back to society. For example, can they provide discounts for the elderly who get deliveries to their homes? How do you achieve that and how do you identify that market and develop the specific initiatives to get there?” Zeng says that this requires some thought and strategy whether its for ride sharing business or a green technologies,consumer products or manufacturing company.

CEI’s recent research into sustainability is a continuation of their drive to support the longevity and growth opportunities both for business and the world at large. Zeng notes that investors today have certain things they are looking for when determining business investments. "Environmental sustainability and social issues are important for companies.Things like diversity on boards and in management matter and are importan", says Zeng. Likewise, “it is good business to be informed and aware of the role government plays as it relates to your business, whether that involves regulatory matters or taxation or other things.”

The key objective of CEI is to raise the awareness of entrepreneurs and investors so they can make informed business decisions. CEI provides clients with introductions to key stakeholders in Canada and potential business partners. In support of this, CEI has an event and community arm, West Coast Opportunity Accelerator (WCOA). Whether it is collaborating intentionally for social impact, creating synergies between companies, or supporting recent grads in work placements, WCOA events build on the inner drive shared by all its members to ensure everyone leaves every event with an opportunity, regardless of age or career stage.

Two recent CEI events proved immensely popular. The first one on the Future of Education drew an audience of over 350 people, and featured guest speaker remarks by Michael Hawes, CEO of Fulbright Canada. Panelists hailed from Harvard, Tsinghua, and Colleges and Institutes Canada. The second on blockchain technology included 130 participants as moderator Catherine Clark guided a discussion with industry professionals from Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong, surrounding the future application and uses of Enterprise Blockchain technology across multiple sectors. Special guest speakers included Geoff Costeloe, Lawyer & Cryptocurrency Expert, and Rich Napoli, CEO of Object Frontier. Panelists included Ciara Sun, Vice President of Global Business/Markets, Huobi Group, Bin Zhu, Founder of Stratos Network, Guillaume Déziel, Digital Marketer CBC, TVA, Bell Mobility, and Kaiwen Zhang, Assistant Professor, Department of Software, and IT Engineering at ÉTS Montréal.

CEI  is also  supporting the One-Million-Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition 2021 hosted by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The CEI initiatives are getting traction and a very positive response. “One thing we have noticed in Canada is that often Chinese companies have trouble expanding beyond the Chinese diaspora here, so we are hoping to change that through providing a combination of business research, market intelligence and assistance on branding and marketing and networking in Canada,” says Zeng.

Click here to read the CEI Whitepaper on sustainability, Sustainability: A Guide for Companies Operating in Canada