MaRS accelerates ventures with impact

Graduates of Impact8, Ontario’s first social venture accelerator, demo at TSX

Toronto, December 5, 2013 – Impact8, Ontario’s first accelerator for social purpose businesses, will mark the completion of its first cohort with a Demo Day event at the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) today.

Impact8, an intensive eight-week program, targets high-impact entrepreneurs with blended value propositions: social enterprises, social purpose businesses and co-operatives with the potential to turn investment into positive social or environmental impact and financial return. Impact8 will open the market at 9:30am; demos will take place at 3pm in the TMX Gallery.

The curriculum leverages the extensive resources and expertise of MaRS, RBC, TMX, KPMG, Miller Thomson and Matter&Co, a UK-based communications firm that works with values-driven organizations. These organizations provide tools, networks and advice to fast-track ventures to investment readiness, help them attract financing and scale their impact.

“We are delighted to work with our partners to support high-potential, high-impact entrepreneurs developing enterprising solutions to our most pressing social and environmental problems,” said Adam Spence, Associate Director, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. “Impact8 helps build a more robust pipeline of investment-ready impact ventures in Ontario.”

The inaugural cohort consists of the following ventures:

Detailing Knights, an eco-aware, mobile car detailing service that reduces water waste by 99 per cent and has developed an innovative franchising model to reduce barriers to youth entrepreneurship.

Learning Bird, which offers affordable online individualized learning experiences to K-12 students, and rewards teachers both inside and outside of the classroom.

LB Designs, formerly Local Buttons, is creating sustainable fair-paying jobs and refining the manufacturing process in Haiti to up-cycle “pepe,” secondhand clothing often worn by Haitians, into clothing that is marketable as fashion items for young professionals in North America.

The Lucky Iron Fish™, a simple, affordable, culturally accepted health innovation tackling iron deficiency anemia in Cambodia and globally. Cooking or boiling water with an iron ingot cast in the shape of a fish (a Cambodian symbol for luck) allows iron to leach into the water where it can be absorbed.

GrantBook, which increases the net value of grants by curating lightweight and continuously updated technology solutions for grant makers to advance collaboration, grants management and knowledge-sharing.

Sumac, an organization that provides physical space and support for food businesses to incubate, launch and develop in South Western Ontario. The initiative is spun out of the success of the Toronto Underground Market.

Sunfarmer, which supplies solar energy services to rural communities lacking access to reliable and affordable electricity by providing technology and innovative financing solutions.

RainGrid Network, whichoffers smart, green infrastructure to protect cities against storm water flooding. RainGrid Network’s smart cisterns catch rooftop runoff to prevent sewage overflows, flooded basements and pollution of our rivers and beaches, at half the cost of conventional infrastructure.

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) is a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto. MaRS works with partners to catalyze, accelerate and amplify innovation. MaRS supports entrepreneurs building Canada’s next generation of growth companies. MaRS’ ventures have created over 4,000 jobs and, in the last three years alone, they have raised over $750 million in capital and earned over $375 million in revenue.

About MaRS Centre for Impact Investing
The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is a national hub designed to increase the awareness and effectiveness of social finance to catalyze new capital, talent and initiatives dedicated to tackling social and environmental problems in Canada. The Centre builds on the foundational work of MaRS and Social Innovation Generation (SiG), including the landmark report by the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance.

For more information, contact:
Melissa Hughes
Manager, Media & Community Relations
MaRS Discovery District
(416) 673-8200 ext. 2710