Lab Canada

Phase one of MaRS Centre research cluster officially opens

Toronto, ON – The MaRS Centre in Toronto’s downtown Discovery District officially opened today. Created to position Ontario and Canada as competitive players in the global knowledge economy, MaRS Discovery District is leading a new field of convergence innovation that will accelerate and amplify commercial outcomes.

“By bringing together the communities of science, business and capital, fostering entrepreneurship and developing new business leaders, MaRS will strengthen Ontario’s ability to successfully bring innovations to market,” says Dr Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS. “We must do this to reap the economic and health benefits of our substantial investment in academic research and secure the economic future of Canadians.”

To encourage collaboration between the science, business and capital communities, MaRS is combining a state-of-the-art facility, the MaRS Centre, in the heart of Toronto’s downtown research cluster, the Discovery District, with the development of programs and services to improve the efficiency of the commercialization marketplace.

The extensive range of educational programming and services will address the needs of start-ups and growth-oriented companies, and include peer-to-peer mentoring for emerging entrepreneurs, access to expert resources in technology, intellectual property, and marketing and sales strategies. A science and technology showcase, outreach activities, a business practice exchange and entrepreneurship programs for students will reach a wider audience.

The on-line MaRS Portal encourages collaboration and learning to take place virtually. It also allows the distribution of resources and extends the MaRS community to include other research institutions and technology communities. The combined physical and virtual MaRS platforms will serve as a gateway to Ontario’s technology corridor, where excellent science and commercialization activities are taking place in diverse areas such as advanced computing, agri-food technologies, materials chemistry, biomathematics and new energy solutions.

Phase One of the MaRS Centre, comprising 700,000 sq ft, is fully leased. Its diverse mix of tenants includes start-up, mid-sized and multinational high-technology companies, the University Health Network and the Hospital for Sick Children researchers, venture capital firms and services such as technology transfer groups, accountants, lawyers, networking organizations and funding agencies.

The Discovery District, formed by Bloor Street West in the north, Dundas Street to the south, Spadina Avenue to the west and Bay Street to the east, includes the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest and most distinguished university; seven teaching hospitals; and more than 30 research centres. The Discovery District is one of North America’s largest and most productive centres of biomedical research, with over $400-million of funding for research and development annually.

“The proximity to this kind of capacity in research, finance and the broad mix of established and growing technology companies in the region, along with direct subway access to a thriving, creative, multicultural, urban community is a truly unique advantage for MaRS in the global marketplace,” says Dr Treurnicht.

It is anticipated that the momentum of the MaRS project will attract multinational technology businesses and leading research organizations to the 800,000-sq-ft Phase Two, with a target completion date of 2008.

“MaRS has made enormous progress in the last five years,” says Dr Treurnicht. “We are confident that five years from now, MaRS will be the foundation of an entirely new generation of very exciting Canadian growth businesses.”