Philanthropy in Ottawa: uOttawa receives the gift of time, talent and treasure

Simon Nehme
Simon Nehme
Editor's Note

WCPD logoPhilanthropy in Ottawa is supported by The Foundation (WCPD), an Ottawa-based philanthropic tax planning advisory firm that helps individuals and foundations increase the size and impact of their charitable donations.


Who: Simon Nehme, general manager, Nehme Holdings

The donation: More than $500,000  

The recipient: The University of Ottawa

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The inspiration: “My wife Clara and I recognize the importance of a world-class education institution like uOttawa. Empowering students through innovation and collaboration, especially during such a crucial time in the world, is truly an honour.” – Simon Nehme, entrepreneur and philanthropist. 

When the full impact of COVID-19 in Ottawa came into focus this spring, Simon Nehme immediately thought of the engineering students at the University of Ottawa.

As a proud uOttawa alumnus, Nehme generously supports the university in various ways through financial gifts and sharing both his time and talents with students. His support also led to the creation of the Simon Nehme Summer Entrepreneurship School at the university’s Faculty of Engineering in 2018, creating opportunities for hands-on workshops and events delivered by members of the entrepreneurial and academic communities. The topics range from business modeling to design thinking to social entrepreneurship to digital marketing and much more. 

At Nehme’s encouragement, the 2020 summer school pivoted in response to COVD-19. His generous donation launched the Simon Nehme COVID-19 Design Challenge.

“Witnessing students working in the uOttawa STEM Complex, MakerLaunch and the Summer School is inspiring,” Nehme says. “In these challenging times it gives me hope to see their work first-hand.”

Participants must be agile and creative as they compete to develop innovative solutions and prototypes to address some of the world’s post-COVID challenges.


The teams are focused around the themes of education, autonomous services or resilient supply chain ecosystems. The three final teams – all with different solutions relevant to COVID-19 – are working hard towards their final pitch. The winning team, which will be announced Sept. 15, will receive $20,000. All submissions will be verified and available in an open-source format for use at no cost to benefit the wider global community. Winners will be required to share their work and be available to assist in turning their prototypes into real-world solutions.

“Our students at uOttawa are enriched by Simon’s expertise, commitment and advice,” says Jacques Beauvais, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “He truly is invested with his time, as well as his transformational gifts to the university. We simply cannot provide these opportunities to students without the support of people like Mr. Nehme.”

Philanthropy in Ottawa is a monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa. Share your stories of philanthropy in our community with And be sure to read the latest edition of OBJ’s Giving Guide: 

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