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Major international tenants give boost to Toronto R&D hub


Toronto, ON – May 17, 2004 – MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences Discovery District) has announced what it says is a big step toward its goal of establishing Toronto as a leading global centre of bioscience commerce, with the addition of Salt Lake City-based NPS Pharmaceuticals and Boston-based venture-capital firm VIMAC Ventures as tenants.

To date, around 85% of the 700,000 sq ft available in phase one of MaRS Centre has been leased to 12 organizations including CMDF (Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund), Heenan Blaikie, Innovations Foundation (University of Toronto), MDS (MDS Sciex Division), RBC Technology Ventures, RBC Financial Group, and the Blueprint Initiative.

MaRS Centre will become the primary location for NPS’s research and development activities in Canada while VIMAC will establish a business office in the centre for its VIMAC Milestone Medica Fund.

In addition, the University Health Network (UHN) and the Hospital for Sick Children will locate key research programs in the Toronto Medical Discovery Tower, one of the three buildings comprising phase one of MaRS Centre. The UHN research initiatives, to occupy 12 of the tower’s 15 floors, include the Global Health Program, which will study infectious disease, medical imaging and drug development. The Hospital for Sick Children, which will occupy three floors, is in the process of determining which of its research programs will be located there.

“With its proximity to some of the leading minds and institutions in Toronto’s bioscience cluster, MaRS is the perfect site for our drug research and development work in Canada,” says Dr Hunter Jackson, chairman, president and CEO of NPS. “Our presence at MaRS underscores our commitment to research and development in Canada and the importance of this new facility to our future business success.”

NPS says it will initially move approximately 70 researchers into a wet lab facility at MaRS, with plans to add another 50 scientists over time.

VIMAC chose MaRS to expand the firm’s North American reach because it provides one of the most dynamic opportunities for investment in biosciences, according to Dana Ono, managing director of the organization’s Milestone Medica Fund.

MaRS, in the heart of downtown Toronto, is literally steps away from world-renowned teaching and research hospitals, the University of Toronto and Canada’s financial core. The new $345 million facility is intended to bring together best-in-class science, business and academic leaders in biosciences and related technologies, and serves as the venue to turn ideas into products and partnerships. Phase one is scheduled to open in March 2005.

MaRS will help to expand and strengthen the medical and related sciences marketplace by improving the productivity of technology transfer, increasing capital flows, and growing the number of strong companies spinning out of research institutions. Based on the experience of similar US research campuses, the centre is projected to create 6,000 high-level research and business jobs over time.

When fully completed, phase one and two of MaRS Centre will provide over 1.3 million square feet of state-of-the-art wet/dry lab facilities and office space connecting a vibrant mix of tenants, from medical and pharmaceutical researchers to venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Designed for scientific discovery and business interaction, the facility will accommodate a carefully selected mix of start-ups to large companies.