MaRS takes big step in establishing Toronto as a major global R&D

US-based NPS Pharmaceuticals and VIMAC ventures announce decision to locate r&d and venture capital activities in new mars centre, joining 10 other tenants

Toronto, May 17, 2004 – MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences Discovery District) today announced a big step toward its goal of establishing Toronto as a leading global centre of bioscience commerce, with the addition of Salt Lake City-based NPS  Pharmaceuticals and Boston-based VIMAC Ventures as tenants.

To date, almost 600,000 square feet of the 700,000 square feet available in Phase One of MaRS Centre has been leased to 12 organizations including CMDF (Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund), Heenan Blaikie LLP, Innovations Foundation (University of Toronto), MDS Inc. (MDS Sciex Division), RBC Technology Ventures Inc., RBC Financial Group, and the Blueprint Initiative. NPS and VIMAC, a venture capital firm active in biosciences, have selected MaRS as the ideal global destination to pursue research and commercial opportunities in the fast-emerging medical and related technology fields.

MaRS Centre will become the primary location for NPS’s research and development activities in Canada while VIMAC will establish a business office in the centre for its VIMAC Milestone Medica Fund.

In addition, the University Health Network (UHN) and The Hospital for Sick Children will locate key research programs in the Toronto Medical Discovery Tower, one of the three buildings comprising Phase One of MaRS Centre. The UHN research initiatives, to occupy 12 of the tower’s 15 floors, include the Global Health Program, which will study infectious disease, Medical Imaging and Drug Development. The Hospital for Sick Children, which will occupy three floors, is in the process of determining which of its research programs will be located there.

“With its proximity to some of the leading minds and institutions in Toronto’s bioscience cluster, MaRS is the perfect site for our drug research and development work in Canada,” says Dr. Hunter Jackson, Chairman, President and CEO of NPS.

“Our presence at MaRS underscoresour commitment to research and development in Canada and the importance of this new facility to our future business success.”

NPS will initially move approximately 70 researchers into a wet lab facility at MaRS, with plans to add another 50 scientists over time. The company has been mining a wealth of research from the Toronto area for many years.

VIMAC chose MaRS to expand the firm’s North American reach because it provides  one of the most dynamic opportunities for investment in biosciences, according to Dana Ono, Managing Director, VIMAC Milestone Medica Fund.

“MaRS strategically positions VIMAC in the heart of one of North America’s most prominent bioscience research and development clusters,” Ono says. “By locating at MaRS, we are tapping into an enormous opportunity to commercialize the wealth of bioscience ventures emerging in Toronto and Canada.”

MaRS, in the heart of downtown Toronto, is literally steps away from world-renowned teaching and research hospitals, the University of Toronto and Canada’s financial core. The new $345 million facility brings together best-in-class science, business and academic leaders in biosciences and related technologies, and serves as the venue to turn ideas into products and partnerships.

With Phase One of MaRS Centre, which is scheduled to open in March, 2005, MaRS will offer a full set of programs and services to accelerate commercialization in medical and related sciences.

“By choosing to establish a presence at MaRS, NPS and VIMAC are tapping into a world of opportunity concentrated in the heart of Canada’s business and technology capital,” says Dr. John Evans, Chairman, MaRS. “The spirit of discovery is central to MaRS, which is situated on the very site of early landmark medical breakthroughs like insulin, the pacemaker and the artificial kidney. In keeping with this tradition, we are delighted that the University Health Network and The Hospital for Sick Children – world leaders in research – will be part of the MaRS Centre.”

MaRS will help to expand and strengthen the medical and related sciences marketplace by improving the productivity of technology transfer, increasing capital flows, and growing the number of strong companies spinning out of research institutions. Based on the experience of similar US research campuses, the Centre is projected to create 6,000 high-level research and business jobs over time.

When fully completed, Phase One and Two of MaRS Centre will provide over 1.3 million square feet of state-of-the-art wet/dry lab facilities and office space connecting a vibrant mix of tenants,from medical and pharmaceutical researchers to venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

Designed for scientific discovery and business interaction, the facility will accommodate a carefully selected mix of start-ups to large companies. MaRS will extend the benefits of the Centre virtually through the MaRS Portal, an online community connecting stakeholders from across Ontario and beyond.

MaRS Advantages

MaRS offers powerful advantages as a location for medical and related sciences activities:

  • Close proximity to over 30 specialized medical and related sciences research centres, over 22,000 medical care and research-related professionals, seven teaching hospitals and the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, one of the largest in North America.
  • Toronto location places tenants in one of North America’s largest biomedical and biotechnology clusters, fourth largest medical community and one of the largest business and professional services clusters.
  • Location in one of the most cost-competitive global biomedical clusters and Canada’s highly cost-effective business environment.
  • Toronto’s high quality of life ranking, as measured by the William M. Mercer worldwide survey (2003).
  • Generous federal and Ontario tax credits for research and development.

About UHN

University Health Network ( is a major landmark in Canada’s healthcare system, and a teaching partner of the University of Toronto. Building on the strengths and reputation of each of our three remarkable hospitals, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN brings together the innovation, talent and resources needed to achieve global impact on the health care scene and provide exemplary patient care.

About the Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is Canada’s most
research-intensive hospital and the largest centre dedicated to improving children’s health in the country. Its mission is to provide the best in family-centred, compassionate care, to lead in scientific and clinical advancement, and to prepare the next generation of leaders in child health. For more information, please visit

About NPS Pharmaceuticals

NPS discovers, develops and intends to commercialize small molecules and recombinant
proteins as drugs, primarily for the treatment of metabolic, bone and mineral, and central nervous system disorders. The company has drug candidates in various stages of clinical development backed by a strong discovery research effort. Additional information is available on the company’s website,

About VIMAC Ventures

VIMAC Ventures LLC ( is a Boston-based venture capital firm that invests
primarily in emerging growth companies located in the northeastern United States and Canada.

Founded in 1982, the company focuses on startup phase companies specializing in
technologies it believes solve real business problems in ways that are readily apparent and
quickly assimilated by customers.

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District ( 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.

For more information, contact:
Linda Quattrin
Director Communications
MaRS Discovery District