MaRS announces appointment of leading social entrepreneur as director of the MaRS Solutions Lab

Toronto, March 25, 2013 – MaRS Discovery District is pleased to announce the appointment of Joeri van den Steenhoven as director of the MaRS Solutions Lab, a new initiative designed to work on systems-level innovation challenges and opportunities.

“I’m proud we have attracted one of the pioneers in the global social innovation field to join the MaRS team,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “Joeri’s work and leadership in the Netherlands and Europe, as a change agent and social entrepreneur, makes him an excellent candidate to lead and build our Solutions Lab. I am confident he can help us catalyze new thinking and innovative approaches to Canada’s societal challenges and bolster our efforts in building Canada’s knowledge economy.”

MaRS Solutions Lab

The MaRS Solutions Lab is designed to tackle complex, systems-level challenges that cannot be solved by any one group acting alone. The Lab will explore and test new approaches, which will help to improve the lives of individuals and strengthen the resilience of communities, both in Canada and internationally. The MaRS Solutions Lab is made possible through a generous gift in honour of MaRS founder Dr. John Evans. The Lab will partner with government, charities, non-profits, academia and business in developing programs and activities. It will support and collaborate with social entrepreneurs, startups and a generation of young Canadian leaders inside and outside of MaRS.

This approach is timely. Societies are facing tough challenges and are undergoing fundamental transformations – hence the need for systemic innovation.

Throughout the world, emerging lab models are bringing together multifaceted teams around creative, user-centric approaches as alternatives to stale methods and encumbered institutions. Leading examples include the MIT AgeLab, MindLab in Denmark, Helsinki Design Lab in Finland, in California and Stanford University’s For more information on these and other lab models, see our report entitled Labs: Designing the Future. The MaRS Solutions Lab is part of an active global network advancing practices in systems innovation. Tim Brodhead, former CEO of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, will chair the advisory board of the MaRS Solutions Lab.

Joeri van den Steenhoven

Joeri van den Steenhoven is co-founder and previous CEO of Knowledgeland, one of the leading change labs in the Netherlands and Europe. Knowledgeland’s mission is to strengthen the Dutch knowledge economy and society. Van den Steenhoven has designed and realized numerous successful interventions for social innovation, while developing methods and networks for creating systems change throughout society. After leaving Knowledgeland in 2011 he has worked on an interim basis as a director at the Young Foundation in the UK and as an independent consultant. Van den Steenhoven is a successful social entrepreneur and a prominent figure in the Dutch public debate on innovation and the knowledge economy. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lisbon Council, one of Europe’s leading think tanks on innovation and growth. Currently, he serves as a member of the supervisory board of the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, as advisory board member of Nuffic (Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education) and Actal (Dutch Advisory Board on Regulatory Burden). He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Amsterdam and has successfully participated in the Harvard Business School’s leadership development program.

“This position is an exciting challenge and I am honoured to become part of one of the world’s leading urban innovation hubs,” said van den Steenhoven. “I hope to contribute to new approaches in tackling Canada’s societal challenges and help to build the MaRS Solutions Lab into a pioneering and inspiring organization for Canada and the rest of the world.”

Joeri will begin his new role with the MaRS Solutions Lab in mid-April 2013.

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.

For more information, contact:
Melissa Hughes
Manager, Media & Community Relations
MaRS Discovery District
416.673.8100 ext. 2710