MaRS teams up with Baycrest’s world-renowned cognitive scientists
Toronto, December 2, 2009 – One of the world’s leading cognitive science institutes announced today it has created a new company with MaRS, Canada’s premiere innovation centre, to develop and market brain fitness products to help adults extend their memory and cognitive abilities longer in the lifespan.
Baycrest president and CEO Dr. William Reichman made the announcement at the Ontario Innovation Summit: The Business of Aging, an international conference underway at MaRS today. This event has drawn a world-class audience of industry professionals to explore the profound public policy challenges – as well as the growing opportunities – associated with greying of the global population. Brain fitness is one of the areas where Ontario has a significant opportunity to lead the field.
Baycrest will put its substantial cognitive science reputation behind a new for-profit company – Cogniciti – that will produce a suite of products, games and training protocols grounded in 20 years of aging brain research at Baycrest.
“Innovation partnerships between science and technology are essential if we want to improve the brain health of aging Ontarians and others around the world,” said Dr. Reichman. “Creating a commercialized science enterprise was a natural step in the evolution of the Baycrest Centre for Brain Fitness, which launched last year with the support of a $10-million investment from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, matching an additional $10 million from private donors.”
“When it comes to innovation, Ontario means business – and today’s announcement is one more example of Ontario ingenuity at work,” said Minister of Research and Innovation John Milloy. “The McGuinty government is proud to support the work that both MaRS and Baycrest are doing to improve quality of life and tackle the challenges of an aging population. Ontario is supporting innovators across the province to ensure this kind of success is the rule, not the exception.”
In a market category where a best-of-breed platform for brain fitness products has yet to exist, Baycrest and MaRS see a huge opportunity to capture the pole position.
“With its exceptional research capabilities and commitment to providing the best possible care, Baycrest is extremely well positioned to be the global leader in its field,” said business strategist Anthony Melman (formerly with Onex Corp.), and current chair of Baycrest’s Board of Directors. “Couple this with MaRS’ focus on innovation and we have the ingredients for the successful commercialization of Baycrest’s intellectual prowess.”
Test-marketing will begin next year for Cogniciti’s first product, Memory@Work™. The corporate training program will teach employees, managers and team leaders how to use memory strategies to improve personal performance in the workplace. Other products in the pipeline for test-marketing in 2011and 2012 include brain exercise games for mobile devices and the web.
“Converting Baycrest’s outstanding cognitive science research into products and services for the important and rapidly growing brain fitness market represents a very promising opportunity,” said MaRS CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnicht. “Leading scientists at Baycrest have been working with MaRS for the past three years to assemble and shape the research assets and develop the commercialization plan for Cogniciti. The formal launch of the company is a very exciting milestone for both our organizations. We are now well positioned to put this superb science to work on a critical societal challenge, for the benefit of Canadians and others around the world.”
Baycrest is a trusted resource on aging; its neuroscience unit the Rotman Research Institute was recently ranked by an international panel of scientists as the “best in the world” in the field of memory and aging. That sterling reputation will give Cogniciti’s products rock-solid credibility with discriminating and informed consumers in a brain fitness market that has the potential to grow to between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015, according to a May 2009 report issued by U.S. market research firm SharpBrains.
“We will develop our products based on current knowledge of brain functioning and continually validate the efficacy of these products in different populations,” explained Dr. Donald Stuss, a world-renowned expert on the frontal lobes of the brain and a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, who will be providing scientific leadership in product development. “We will endeavour to ensure that these products are interesting and enjoyable.”
Dr. Stuss said the exercise and training interventions will target “strategic” cognitive functions that matter most in people’s busy lives, enabling users to maximize the abilities they already have. Those everyday abilities include planning and organizing, staying focused on a task to ensure it is done properly, and not being distracted by irrelevant information.
The new company is using an interactive research model for product testing that will inform the best cognitive training platforms for customer needs and enable fast-tracking of products from science lab to market. Research data will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to ensure the products meet the highest standards of scientific validation.
MaRS Discovery District (www.marsdd.com) is a large scale, mission driven innovation centre located in Toronto and networked across Ontario, focused on building Canada’s next generation of technology companies. MaRS works closely with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders in life sciences and health care, information, communications and digital media technologies, cleantech, advanced materials and engineering, as well as innovative social purpose business.
Linda Quattrin, Director, Communications
MaRS Discovery District
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Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer
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