From a river-cruise line to a robo-taxi company, the head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is looking beyond market cycles and seeking to capitalize on structural changes shaking up the global economy.

“CPPIB is embracing disruption, whether that disruption is technological, demographics, economic, climate change or any number of other forces for change,” Mark Machin said, according to prepared remarks for a speech in Toronto Tuesday. The fund manages $368.3 billion  in assets for about 20 million Canadian pensioners. “We are also becoming disruptors ourselves.”

The Toronto-based fund is backing California-based Zoox, which aims to have its fleet of robo-taxis ready by 2020, and Viking River Cruises as baby boomers retire and seek travel adventures. Viking plies the waters in China, Russia and Egypt and touts itself as the world’s largest river cruise line, Machin said.

In China, where the fund has 8 per cent of its portfolio, its best-known investment is Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

“We invested back in 2011 because we believed strongly that China’s huge rising middle class and its rapid adoption of wireless technology would make Alibaba a sound prospect in the long-term,” Machin said. “We’ve increased our investment over the years.”

To take part in fast-growing Chinese real estate, CPPIB invested in Longfor Group Holdings Ltd., a residential and retail developer and operator with projects in Suzhou, Chongqing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

CPPIB reported a 0.6 per cent return on investments for the quarter ended Sept. 30. Net assets under management rose 12 per cent from a year earlier, the fund said Nov. 6.