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The magic of convergence at MaRS

May 7, 2013

Advisors with the MaRS life sciences & healthcare practice meet so many talented entrepreneurs—some with brilliant technical skills, some with clinical skills and some with business skills. Rarely do we meet entrepreneurs with all three.

Building a successful startup is hard, and even harder in the life sciences sector because the procurement process is challenging, development times are longer and the financing environment can be conservative. This is why we try to help link our clients with people who have complementary skills… and when we get it right, moments of magic sometimes occur!

Eighteen months ago I met Dr. Ian Moore, a statistician from the University of Toronto who had developed a SaaS platform to provide tools for performing very powerful predictive analyses. While Ian could easily have applied his talents to banking or large retail, he wanted to make a difference in healthcare.

Then I met Les Blackwell, the Emergency Department Physician Administrator at the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC). Les had developed an ER doctor scheduling methodology that had reduced wait times by 20% and was looking to automate this method.

Convergence innovation at MaRS

One day, both Les and Ian were at MaRS. I introduced them to each other… and within two weeks they had formed the company MetricAid.

Shortly thereafter, Ian had developed Les’s method into a product. Within the next little while, their solution won an Ontario quality award and gained commitment for LHIN adoption.

The full capability of Ian’s platform is still untapped, but with Les’s experience, I have no doubt they will be a significant contributor to hospital efficiency and patient safety.

Lessons learned 

For me, there are a number of lessons in this story of serendipity:

  1. Both Les and Ian were honest about their strengths and, more importantly, their weaknesses. They were not trying to be something they were not.
  2. They both shared the same values.
  3. They were not greedy and quickly came to agreement on a partnership.

They say that “luck favours the prepared.” While you certainly can’t count on fate to grow your business on its own, you can prepare yourself properly so you are able to take advantage of key opportunities when they come along.

You can do so by tapping into as many resources as possible, making as many valid connections as you can, and knowing your own strengths, weaknesses and values. Then, let the magic happen!

To tap into everything MaRS advisory services has to offer, complete the MaRS Discovery Document.

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Peter Adams @ MaRS

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Peter is a senior executive leader in technology business development with experience spanning bioengineering, sales and marketing management, entrepreneurship, consulting and general management. He now spends most of his time as a Senior Advisor in Health IT at MaRS, but has also worked with semiconductors, systems, IT services, healthcare IT, instruments and therapeutics in the UK, Europe, USA and Canada.

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