MaRS announces first members of the MaRS Solutions Lab Advisory Board

Newly appointed advisors will bring cross-sector expertise to MaRS Solutions Lab.

TORONTO, March 29, 2016 – MaRS Discovery District is proud to announce the establishment of the MaRS Solutions Lab Advisory Board and the appointment of its first members.

“MaRS Solutions Lab brings together stakeholders from across society to collaborate to solve complex challenges,” said Tim Brodhead, chair of the MaRS Solutions Lab Advisory Board. “I am honoured to be part of such an amazing group of advisors and to help the lab fulfil its mission.”

Founded in 2013, MaRS Solutions Lab is one of the leading social innovation labs in Canada. It develops new approaches to addressing complex problems such as youth unemployment, obesity and mental health in schools. The lab brings together people with diverse perspectives to help solve these problems collaboratively. It uses systems and design thinking, and builds on leading practices from similar labs around the world, to enable participants to come to a common understanding and to put that understanding into practice. The lab’s strategy is represented by its Periodic Table of Systems Change.

The lab also helps governments to modernize their policies and public services to keep pace with changes in society. Most recently, MaRS Solutions Lab was engaged by the Government of Ontario and the City of Toronto to work with stakeholders to develop a strategy for regulating the sharing economy. Its final report on the topic will be published soon.

MaRS Solutions Lab is a core component of MaRS’ systems change work, designed to help drive the adoption of innovation by removing barriers. This work is especially relevant because MaRS supports innovators and young high-growth companies operating in complex and regulated markets such as health, energy and environment, financial services and education. MaRS Solutions Lab often serves as a bridge between innovators, institutions and regulators. It drives change by equipping people and organizations with the tools and techniques needed to test and adopt new approaches to innovation as well as modernize regulatory frameworks.

“The future economy requires more than new products and services,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS. “We need markets and systems that are capable of adopting innovation or, even better, embracing innovation. Canada must lead not just on the invention or supply side, but also on the demand and adoption side of the innovation continuum. Only if we use innovation effectively will Canadians benefit from our breakthrough ideas and will our economy grow. Using these ideas at home positions them for success in global markets. MaRS Solutions Lab’s groundbreaking collaborative work is at the heart of MaRS’ strategy to help innovators change the world and ensure that their new solutions reach the people who need them most.”

“I am excited to have such top thinkers and practitioners join our advisory board,” said Joeri van den Steenhoven, director of MaRS Solutions Lab. “They are leading the debate on public and social innovation in Canada and beyond. Governments need to be serious about innovation. If a company doesn’t innovate, it goes down. If governments don’t innovate, the consequences are felt by citizens — ineffective services, less prosperity, more congestion. Today, governments around the world see the benefits of working with innovation labs to develop and test new policies and services before implementing them, so they can find out what works while managing the risks of innovation.”

The appointed members of the MaRS Solutions Lab Advisory Board are:

Tim Brodhead (Chair)
Tim Brodhead is the former president and CEO of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, a Montreal-based family foundation with the mission to create a more resilient society by enhancing inclusion, sustainability and social innovation. He also recently served as interim president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Tim has served on many boards, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and is a past chair of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, the national organization of Canadian independent foundations. In 2001 he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. Tim has received honorary doctor of laws degrees from Carleton University, Dalhousie University, the University of New Brunswick and McGill University.

Peter Wallace
Peter Wallace is the city manager of the City of Toronto. He previously served as secretary of the Ontario cabinet, head of the Ontario Public Service and clerk of the Executive Council. Over his 32-year career in the Ontario Public Service, Peter has held several senior executive roles, including those of deputy minister of finance and secretary of the Treasury Board, deputy minister of energy, assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Natural Resources and assistant deputy minister of the Management Board Secretariat.

Graham Flack
Graham Flack is the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage with the federal government and co-chair of the Deputy Minister Committee on Policy Innovation. He has a long career in government and has served as deputy secretary to the cabinet at the Privy Council Office, associate deputy minister and then acting deputy minister at Public Safety Canada, associate assistant deputy minister of energy policy and assistant deputy minister of international trade and finance. Graham is currently the deputy minister champion for the Federal Youth Network and for Dalhousie University. 

Heather Fraser
Heather Fraser is the founder and CEO of Vuka Innovation, a consultancy that helps organizations to harness their capacity to innovate through business design. She is an adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and the co-founder of Rotman DesignWorks. Heather is a leader in business design practices and design-inspired student programs. She consults on business design initiatives for corporations, public entities and educational institutions internationally. She is also the author of Design Works: How to Tackle Your Toughest Innovation Challenges Through Business Design. Prior to joining Rotman, Heather held leadership positions at Procter & Gamble, Ogilvy & Mather and TAXI Advertising & Design.

Jorrit de Jong
Jorrit de Jong is a lecturer in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the academic director of the Innovations in Government Program in the school’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. His research and teaching focus is on the challenges of making the public sector more responsive and more resilient through innovation. Jorrit is a co-founder of the Kafka Brigade, a not-for-profit organization in Europe that helps governments diagnose and remedy bureaucratic dysfunction. He has written extensively on public sector innovation and his most recent book is titled Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans is the founder and chair of the Westside School in London, United Kingdom, a school that focuses on helping vulnerable young people get back on track in education and training through a program of individual support alongside a General Certificate of Secondary Education program including vocational subjects. The school’s students range in age from 13 to 16 and are expected to go on to college. Sarah founded the school in 2006 and has been leading it ever since. She previously worked as a consultant at Bain & Company and as an assistant vice-president at J.P. Morgan.

Derek Evans
Derek Evans is the president, CEO and director of Pengrowth Energy Corporation. He has over 30 years of experience in the energy sector in Western Canada and served as president, CEO and director of Focus Energy Trust from 2002 to 2008. Derek currently serves as a director of Franco Nevada Corporation and as the chairman of Endurance Energy, a private oil and gas company. He also serves as a director at several not-for-profit organizations. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and a member of the board of directors of MaRS.

Ilse Treurnicht
Ilse Treurnicht is the CEO of MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest innovation hub, located in downtown Toronto. She joined MaRS in early 2005, following her role as president and CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures, a startup-stage venture capital fund focused on the advanced technologies sector. Prior to her role at Primaxis, Ilse was an entrepreneur with senior management roles in several emerging technology companies. She is an active member of Canada’s innovation community and served as chair of the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance in 2010. She is currently a member of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council.

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS supports promising young ventures that are tackling key societal challenges in the health, cleantech and information and communications technology sectors. In the last three years, these ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue. In addition to helping startups launch, grow and scale, the MaRS community is dedicated to cross-disciplinary collaboration, commercialization of discoveries and driving ideas to impact.

About MaRS Solutions Lab
MaRS Solutions Lab, based at MaRS Discovery District, helps to solve complex social challenges. It develops new approaches to addressing complex problems such as youth unemployment, obesity and mental health in schools. The lab brings together stakeholders from across society to help solve these problems collaboratively. It uses systems and design thinking, building on leading practices from similar innovation labs around the world. The lab also helps governments to modernize their policies and public services to keep pace with changes in society, and equips people and organizations with tools and techniques to create change.

For more information, contact:
Lara Torvi
MaRS Discovery District