The MaRS Centre is about to double in size.  Does it matter?  Yes!  Here’s why…

In 2008, the global economic crisis halted many building projects here and elsewhere. One of these was the MaRS Centre Phase 2 building at the corner of College and University, in the heart of Toronto’s Discovery District.   At MaRS, we were disappointed by the delay, but our core business was zooming along regardless.

Our core business is helping entrepreneurs start and grow new companies.  And since we opened our doors in late 2005, MaRS has worked with over 1,200 companies.  In 2010 alone:

  • MaRS advisors (70% of whom are volunteers) provided more than 9,000 hours of mentorship to entrepreneurs;
  • MaRS provided more than $13 million value in free market intelligence to Ontario innovators and start-ups;
  • 8,000 people attended MaRS entrepreneurship education events such as Entrepreneurship 101 and more than double that number tapped into these resources online;  and
  • MaRS client companies raised over $108 million in third party capital, generated over $70 million in revenue and created more than 600 new Ontario jobs.

Now that the MaRS Centre Phase 2 is about to resume construction, the best is still to come.

Here are 5 reasons why it matters – to Toronto, to Ontario, to Canada, and to you.

1. We’ve Weathered the Financial Storm

Canada showed its financial fortitude during and since the global financial crisis, and Ontario led the way. Forward-looking investments by government were critical – Ontario’s economy is growing and will increasingly be fueled by innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge-based businesses. With pent up demand for research, incubation and business space in Toronto’s Discovery District, this is the right time to invest in innovation and expand our platform.

2. Location, Location, Location

MaRS is located in downtown Toronto – at the heart of one of the world’s great cities, in a superb research district filled with global talent.  With our Phase 2 expansion back on track, MaRS will become one of the largest urban innovation hubs in the world.

3. Bringing the Right People Together

MaRS is the commercialization core for a much larger community of talent, start-ups, businesses, research institutions, and investors.  Over 2,300 of these stakeholders currently work at the MaRS Centre every day and thousands more attend workshops, events, and conferences. This number will more than double upon completion of Phase 2. The model works, and we’ll be better positioned than ever to help our partners and clients compete on the global stage.

4. New Jobs – Now

Construction of MaRS Centre Phase 2 itself is expected to create over 4,000 new jobs in the Greater Toronto Area over the next two to three years.

5. New Jobs – For Years to Come

Today, start-ups are blooming and growing across the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario.  These young, high growth companies create the majority of new jobs in modern economies and are critical for future prosperity. By doubling our state-of-the-art laboratory and office space, the expanded MaRS Centre will catalyze more start-ups and help grow companies that will generate thousands more knowledge-based jobs in the years ahead.

MaRS matters, because our mission is so central to innovation-based economic growth in Canada.  I’m absolutely delighted that construction of Phase 2 is restarting.  It signals a new era for innovation in Toronto, Ontario, and Canada.

Dr. Ilse Treurnicht

Ilse Treurnicht is the CEO of MaRS Discovery District. Ilse was an entrepreneur with senior management roles in a number of emerging technology companies. She has served on the boards of private companies, industry associations and research organizations and has been a member of several government advisory panels. See more…