MaRS and University of Toronto partner to grow impact of First Adopter Network

The program connects visionary business leaders with the latest innovations in enterprise technology

TORONTO, June 21, 2022 – MaRS and the University of Toronto (U of T) are joining forces to further address the Canadian startup commercialization challenge like never before. Our organizations are bringing together Canada’s leading corporations with some of Canada’s most innovative early-stage ventures to create new economic opportunities and business growth.

U of T and MaRS will collaborate on the First Adopter Network (FAN), which provides a digital space where corporate innovation champions can source cutting-edge business solutions. FAN will foster new relationships between startups and Canada’s largest corporations and help companies find the products and ideas they need. Sourcing homegrown solutions will also connect corporate leaders with the next generation of talent and new ways of addressing challenges.

This collaboration enables Canadian startups to scale and will drive productivity gains for medium and large-sized companies , boosting their competitiveness in the face of the demands of the innovation economy. FAN is a win for Canada’s innovation economy and overall economic prosperity.

“We know that customer adoption is one of the critical barriers to commercializing Canadian innovation. We’re thrilled to partner with U of T to address this challenge by building a network of first adopters in Canada and around the world,” said Yung Wu, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “MaRS and U of T bring complementary expertise to the table. Together, we’ll work to simplify companies’ connections to the latest research, IP, and innovative technologies.”

The partnership will ensure that FAN can address the commercialization challenge  in Canada seen in the gap between R&D spend and realized earnings on intellectual property (IP).  This includes:

  • Increasing exposure for promising technologies, early-stage  IP, and research by leveraging U of T and MaRS’ substantial startup and scale-up networks,
  • Accelerating the breadth and depth of research into  urgent // relevant business challenges in key sectors to drive commercialization with technology developers and improve business outcomes,
  • Generating momentum around technology and business model adoption in the innovation economy by connecting researchers, startups, and innovation champions in key sectors.

FAN members can access pitch & demo events, strategic introductions, and insights from a new wave of global engineers, entrepreneurs, and tech leaders addressing the most pressing issues facing corporations today. Through the MaRS and U of T ecosystems, they will meet the most qualified  and impactful vendors from world-leading tech founders and their teams. This includes solutions of many types and scales from those winning high-profile pitch competitions to those hitting new growth milestones through the latest investment capital.

The first phase of the FAN program will feature MaRS and U of T using their climate expertise to drive cleantech partnerships. U of T’s cleantech startups have raised over $300-million in the past decade.

“The combination of UofT and MaRS’ networks will accelerate some of Canada’s top innovators, technologies and scale-up companies under one program” said Leah Cowen, Vice-president Research, Innovation and Institutional Strategic Initiatives at UofT. “You can’t find this kind of opportunity anywhere else.”

First developed at the MaRS Discovery District, you can find out more about FAN and opportunities to join here:

About MaRS

MaRS is North America’s largest urban innovation hub. A registered non-profit, MaRS supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. In addition, MaRS convenes all members of the tech ecosystem to drive breakthrough discoveries, grow the economy and make an impact by solving real problems for real people — in Canada and around the world. The University of Toronto has been a founding partner of MaRS since its first phase of development in 2003.

About University of Toronto

Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto is Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge. U of T is one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities and ranked Canada’s most innovative university. We’re a global leader in transforming innovative ideas into products, services, companies and jobs.


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