Stéphanie Grandperret
Chief Operating Officer - NewCities
Part of the Spotlight on Montreal’s International Organizations

Montreal: City of Innovation, Boldness and Youth


  1. Montreal offers an exceptional quality of life to its citizens and is committed to furthering urban wellbeing, which strengthens the argument for international talent to move to the city.
  2. Montreal’s rich and collaborative business ecosystem allows international organizations to form productive relationships with companies, startups, non-profits, local governments and academic institutions.
  3. Montreal is an affordable destination for any international organization because of its competitive cost for salaries, and this is particularly valuable to non-profits.


It is strategically important for international organizations to establish themselves in close proximity to academic institutions, and Montreal’s six universities create opportunities for partnerships and collaboration while providing talent.

Can you describe your organization, NewCities, and what it seeks to achieve? 

NewCities is an international, non-profit organization that was created 10 years ago in Paris. We are now based in Montreal, and we are committed to shaping a better urban future. We believe that the local solution for sustainability, health and wellbeing, mobility and equity can be extremely powerful and have a global impact. 

Why did NewCities choose to locate its international headquarters in Montreal? 

Five years ago, we decided to move to Montreal, and our decision to come here was very important to our global expansion strategy and our efforts to identify and showcase new solutions to urban development issues.

We believe that we could not have chosen a better home for global action than Montreal. Because it is not only Canada’s international city, but a city of huge innovation, boldness and youth. 

There are a lot of advantages in Montreal for international, non-profit organizations. For example, Montreal is well-known for its unique way of life, affordability, diversity, and safety, and it is a very dynamic city. This was an important argument when we were convincing the team to move from Paris to Montreal. 

“We believe that we could not have chosen a better home for global action than Montreal.”

Another advantage is that as an employer, we had access to a larger pool of managerial talent, thanks to the academic institutions in Montreal. The city also has competitive costs in salaries and other operational expenses, and obviously that is an important advantage for a non-profit organization.

Further, Montreal International, the economic promotion agency of Greater Montreal, does a great job of attracting international organizations. It is thanks to them that we decided to come here, and their support since our move has been terrific.

How would you describe the ecosystem in Montreal for businesses?

Montreal is really well-known for being a hub of technology—there is a strong tech ecosystem. It is also an important centre for urban innovation, with a very rich ecosystem.

Since we have been here, we have been very happy to develop relationships with companies, startups, academic institutions, non-profits and local governments to further our projects. We feel the ecosystem is very active in questions of urban wellbeing, affordability in housing, and the use of AI to solve urban challenges. This has led us to many fruitful partnerships, and we have organized several engaging events and completed research projects on these topics.

Montreal is a very progressive city, open to the world, and known for its exceptional quality of life. We are delighted to partner with the Government of Quebec to showcase initiatives and projects that improve Quebecois’ quality of life. 

Through our Wellbeing Cities Program, NewCities convenes city officials across the world who have the opportunity to share best practices with representatives from Montreal and the Government of Quebec, helping them to discover the innovations and local politics in place here. For example, we have been delighted to showcase local organizations like Moment Factory, Eco-counter, Santropol Roulant and Quartier des spectacles, who play an important role in promoting quality of life in Montreal and connecting people to achieve a more sustainable city.

When NewCities arrived in Montreal five years ago, we actually established our office inside the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in the Department of Urban Studies. Like many international organizations here, we believe it is strategically important to be physically located near an academic institution. We had the opportunity to involve some professors and researchers in our events and our co-creation program. This also gave us direct access to a pool of graduate students in our field. We were very happy to be at UQAM.

What is the availability of talent in Montreal and how do Canada’s immigration policies contribute to attracting or retaining talent? 

As I mentioned, Montreal is a hotspot for highly-skilled talent, students and academic institutions, and it does a great job of attracting international students. The city welcomes over 50,000 students to Montreal each year, and even though we are in a pandemic, our immigration policies continue to attract talent. I would not say that immigration in Canada is perfect, but it is definitely more manageable than other places.

There is a simplified procedure for international students, who have received a degree in Canada, to stay here. We have approached several international graduate students, which has really helped us develop our team.

How does Montreal’s multiculturalism and diversity help organizations grow and build? 

Multiculturalism and diversity help our team. We have a highly-skilled team part-time that are multilingual and global professionals. As we operate globally, it is important that our team come from different regions and speak various languages. NewCities is proud to have five languages represented on our team.

Since our move from Paris to Montreal, thanks to Montreal’s global reputation, we have been given a stage to organize innovative events in our field—on wellbeing, AI, or by welcoming an international expert. When you host an event in Montreal—prior to the pandemic—it is easy to convince people to travel and attend an event in the city. 

What is your vision for the future of Montreal? 

Montreal is going to continue to be a dynamic city and will continue to attract talent and investments. It is going to keep growing, and one of the challenges will be making sure that the city stays affordable with that economic growth. We need to make sure that even with the tech startups coming here, that they can live in harmony with students and people from all socioeconomic groups.

What is the future of NewCities in Montreal? 

We really look forward to being able to organize events again in Montreal. Like I said, we have good collaboration with the Government of Quebec and the City of Montreal to showcase urban wellbeing and bring international guests to the city to show them what is going on here. We look forward to being able to do that again, and we hope we can invite you to our events next year.

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Stéphanie Grandperret
Chief Operating Officer - NewCities

Bio: Stéphanie Grandperret is the Chief Operating Officer of NewCities and a Board Member of Montréal International. In her role at NewCities,  she manages the operations and defines the objectives and priorities of the organization, while working closely with the NewCities Board of Directors on the development of the organization’s long-term strategy. She also directs relations with NewCities’ members, partners and prospects, and is involved in all of the organization’s projects, both locally and internationally.  Before joining NewCities, Stéphanie worked within the Publicis Group in Paris as a finance controller. Stéphanie holds a business school master’s degree in finance from ESG Paris

Organization Profile: NewCities is a global non-profit committed to shaping a better urban future by convening and connecting key stakeholders in the urban ecosystem, including residents, governments, academic institutions, civil organizations and business communities. The organization has a global network and has organized 42 events in 22 cities worldwide.