January 3, 2013
What a year it has been at MaRS! It’s been my privilege to help document, through photographs, many exciting initiatives, events and people in 2012. Here are just a few highlights.
Dr. John Evans honoured and dedication of the Heritage Wing
This past February we gathered to honour a remarkable man: Dr. John Evans, chair emeritus of MaRS and one of its key founders. Dr. Evans’ contributions to the planet are enormous. His family honoured him with a remarkably generous $10 million gift to MaRS to establish the MaRS Solutions Lab, which was announced at the gala. MaRS also dedicated its Heritage Wing to Dr. Evans, renaming it the Evans Wing.
Launch of the MaRS Commons and JOLT accelerator program
MaRS’ information technology, communications and entertainment (ICE) practice launched two major initiatives this past year. First came the MaRS Commons, the new home of the ICE practice, a large, open-concept work and collaboration space specifically for ICE-focused startups. Second came JOLT, an ongoing early-stage accelerator program for technology and mobile startups. The first JOLT cohort culminated in a very successful Demo Day event, held at Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery.
Growth of educational initiatives
One of MaRS’ most important missions is supporting innovative Ontario startups through a range of world-class entrepreneurial education initiatives, including online resources, workshops and events. This past October, we launched our eighth year of MaRS’ flagship live educational series, Entrepreneurship 101. This year’s launch saw 527 people in attendance and 253 on the webcast for a total of almost 800 people—double the previous year’s numbers! The year culminates in the Up-Start! Competition, a chance for attendees to pitch for $10,000. That’s 2012 Up-Start! winner Henry Chong of LIFE-Bike in the centre.
MaRS Education Innovation
Speaking of education, 2012 saw the launch of an important new MaRS initiative devoted to advising entrepreneurs who are disrupting the education industry. The vision is to create a place where global educators, programmers, investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and policy-makers will come together to accelerate the pace of innovation in the field of education. Here are some of the new initiative’s clients, along with some educational heavyweights, including MIT’s Peter Senge, Sir Ken Robinson and Sir Michael Barber, who were at MaRS this past fall to help out a new education client that will be making huge waves in 2013.
Events, events, events
We’re very proud of MaRS’ role as a convener and community builder, and one of the coolest ways we accomplish this is through the busy schedule of live events we organize, sponsor and host at our Collaboration Centre. It takes a hugely professional behind-the-scenes team to flawlessly produce event after event. Luckily, we are blessed with exemplary people, including, among others: Allen Gelberg, MaRS Collaboration Centre director; Janet Grant, senior events manager; Michael Heath, AV services manager; and their respective teams.
I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing a very small sample of the great things that happen at MaRS every day. The last year was amazing and 2013 is going to be even “amazing-er.”
On a personal note, I wish to thank all of my MaRSian colleagues, especially the great folks on the MaRS media team who help bring MaRS to the world through videos and photos: Anna Jung, Daniel McGarrigle, Liam Nelson, Casey Johnson, Elvis Deane, Claude Soulodre and Amrutha Simon.
Happy New Year!