MaRS Solutions Lab

Around the world, societies face complex social and environmental challenges that require systems change. We need to work together to develop new, multi-disciplinary approaches and solutions to these challenges. We must build capacity for change, unleash innovative policies and strengthen the changemakers that help drive systems change. New solutions must be co-developed with society, not just for society.

The MaRS Solutions Lab helps make that happen.


Better lives. Stronger society.

The MaRS Solutions Lab develops new solutions to improve the lives of people and strengthen the resilience of society. As a change lab, we bring together governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, foundations, academia and the greater community to help unravel complex problems from a citizen’s perspective. We collaborate with partners to develop, prototype and scale new solutions, and create learning opportunities for people and organizations to thrive in the 21st century.

We learn by doing it differently, but with the support of many.

The MaRS Solutions Lab was created in the spring of 2013 through a generous gift honouring the remarkable contributions of Dr. John Evans, Chair Emeritus and co-founder of MaRS Discovery District. The Lab is part of a global movement; several other countries are using change or design labs to tackle society’s most intractable problems. For more on change labs, read the MaRS report, Labs: Designing the Future.


We work in partnership with several organizations and individuals, including the Government of Ontario, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience, among others.


  • Future of Health.  To contribute to the long-term sustainability of our healthcare system, we examine new ways to help prevent and delay chronic diseases.
  • Future of Work.  To prepare for a changing labour market, we explore new strategies to fight youth unemployment, particularly for youth with disabilities.
  • Future of Food.  To create a healthy and sustainable food economy, we help to create a better climate to introduce and scale innovations into the food system.
  • Future of Government. To help government operate better in a knowledge society, we assist in redesigning public services to create a more open government that collaborates with civil society.

Design Principles

The following core principles guide our work:

  • Start with the citizen, then look at the system.
  • Develop solutions with society, not just for society.
  • Always look for the smallest possible intervention with the largest possible impact.
  • Work towards scale (but start small and learn).
  • Take action. But never act without reflecting, nor reflect without acting.
  • Convene to diagnose problems, galvanize change and deliver concrete improvements.


  • Joeri van den Steenhoven, Director
  • Jerry Koh, Manager, Innovation and Research
  • Susan Paetkau, Program Lead and Learning Manager
  • Hyun-Duck Chung, Research and Information Specialist
  • Claire Buré, Senior Associate
  • Terrie Chan, Associate


To receive news and announcements from the MaRS Solutions Lab, please email us at solutions-lab@marsdd.com.

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876682717 RR0001


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