MaRS names Annette Verschuren, Michael Serbinis, Stefan Larson and Martha Tory to board of directors

Veteran entrepreneurs and visionary business leaders bring their expertise in energy storage, biotech, digital health and finance to Canada’s largest urban innovation district.

TORONTO, October 5, 2015 – MaRS Discovery District is pleased to announce the recent appointments of Annette Verschuren, Michael Serbinis, Stefan Larson and Martha Tory to its board of directors.

The new board members are influencers in the innovation economy, bringing broad experience and leadership in the three sectors that MaRS focuses on: health, cleantech, and ICT. In addition, Martha Tory is a widely recognized expert in non-profit finance and governance, and will chair the board’s Audit, Finance and Risk Committee.

“We are thrilled to welcome these four exceptional business leaders to the MaRS board,” said Gordon Nixon, MaRS board chairman. “They each bring a unique perspective and passion for innovation, with a combined expertise that cuts across the energy, finance, technology and health sectors. Their contributions will be invaluable to delivering on MaRS’ mission as we embark on the next stage of growth.”

“The combined experience and networks of these new board members will complement the considerable expertise already on our board,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS. “Our team will benefit immensely from their insights and connections to harness breakthrough ideas and effectively support promising young companies growing in global markets.”

MaRS Venture Services has created three new advisory groups, each focused on a priority sector and comprised of six to eight entrepreneurs, to provide strategic guidance on MaRS’ work with high growth, high impact firms. Verschuren (Cleantech), Serbinis (ICT) and Larson (Health) will serve as active members of these advisory groups and as a bridge to the board.

“I look forward to working with the board, and the cleantech community, to carve new markets for our exciting ventures,” said Annette Verschuren, Chair and CEO, NRStor Inc. “Canada can become a leader in a new energy sector that’s clean, profitable and will add a whole new dimension to our existing renewable energy assets, and MaRS is well positioned to make this happen.”

“I’m pleased to be working with MaRS’ leadership team to build on current programs and services for ICT startups, and advise on strategies to help our ventures continue to grow globally from what is the largest urban tech centre in North America,” said Michael Serbinis, CEO, LEAGUE.

“MaRS has helped put Canadian biotech innovation on the map,” said Stefan Larson, entrepreneur-in-residence, Versant Ventures and CEO, Northern Biologics. “I have long been involved from the venture side, and I’m very pleased to join the board to help MaRS’ entrepreneurs solve difficult challenges in healthcare, while building commercially successful companies.”

“MaRS’ model of the mixed urban innovation hub is expanding globally,” said Martha Tory, retired partner, Ernst & Young. “I am looking forward to chairing the finance committee and helping MaRS to continue its pioneering work.”

The new appointees join the following existing board members:
• Gordon Nixon (Chair), former CEO, RBC
• The Hon. John Manley (Vice Chair), President and CEO, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
• Elyse Allan, CEO, GE Canada and Vice-President, GE
• Elaine Campbell, Past President, AstraZeneca Canada
• Derek Evans, President, CEO and Director, Pengrowth Energy Corporation
• Richard W. Ivey, Chairman, Ivest Properties Limited
• Geoffrey Matus, President, Mandukwe Inc.
• Michael McCain, President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
• Meric Gertler, President, University of Toronto
• Calvin Stiller, Professor Emeritus, University of Western Ontario, and health executive
• Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District

Annette Verschuren
Chair & CEO, NRStor Inc.

Annette Verschuren, a native of North Sydney, Nova Scotia has taken her wealth of unique experience and well-rounded skill-set in finance, operations and leadership and applied it to public, private and non-profit ventures throughout her career. In July 2012, Annette oversaw the creation of NRStor Inc. as Chair and CEO. Within 24 months the company had opened the first commercial grid-connected energy storage flywheel installation in Canada. She has been and influencer of policy and worked to create a market for advanced energy storage in Ontario. Formerly the president of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, Annette grew Canadian operations from 19 to 179 stores between 1996 and 2011. She also led The Home Depot’s entry into China between 2006-2009. Prior to her career at The Home Depot, Annette served as the president and co-owner of Michaels of Canada (arts & crafts) from 1993-1996. Annette began her career as a development officer with the Cape Breton Development Corporation, a coal mining operation, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. She then worked with the Canada Development Investment Corporation as executive vice-president, privatizing crown corporations, before joining Imasco Ltd. as vice-president, corporate development. Annette currently sits on the board of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Air Canada, Saputo and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. She was also a member of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s Economic Advisory Council, which included a group of 11 Canadian business leaders charged with advising the Government of Canada on the global economic crisis. Most recently, Annette was appointed Chair of the Federal Government’s Expert Panel for the Venture Capital Action Plan. In 2011, Annette received the highest civilian honor as an Officer of The Order of Canada for her contribution to the retail industry and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Michael Serbinis

Michael is the CEO and Founder of LEAGUE. Michael is known as a visionary entrepreneur who has built transformative technology platforms across several industries. Most recently Michael was the founder and CEO of Kobo, a digital reading company that burst onto the publishing scene in 2009, driving $110M in sales in its first year. Under Michael’s leadership, Kobo became the only global competitor to Amazon’s Kindle with 20-million customers in 190 countries. Michael sold Kobo to Japanese Internet giant Rakuten for $315M in 2012. Prior to Kobo, Michael founded and sold cloud storage pioneer DocSpace for $568M in 2000 to Critical Path, a global provider of messaging services, which ran one-third of the world’s email. Michael also developed network routing technology at Microsoft, and search engine technology at Zip2, which later sold to AltaVista for $300M.

Stefan Larson
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Versant Ventures and CEO, Northern Biologics

Stefan Larson is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Versant Ventures, where he serves as President of Blueline Bioscience, a Toronto-based biotechnology incubator. He is also the founding CEO of Northern Biologics, an antibody discovery company located in the MaRS Centre. Stefan joined Versant after spending three years as the co-founder and CEO of Tornado Medical Systems, a revenue-stage medical imaging and spectroscopy company. He previously held the position of Associate Principal with McKinsey & Company, serving global clients in healthcare and technology. He is currently a director of the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) and is a recipient of the Arbor Award for Exceptional Volunteer Service to the University of Toronto. Stefan received his B.Sc. in Biology from McGill University, and his M.Sc. in Molecular and Medical Genetics from the University of Toronto. He completed his Ph.D. in Biophysics at Stanford University, where he helped build and launch Folding@home, the world’s most successful scientific public distributed computing platform.

Martha Tory
Retired Partner, Ernst & Young LLP

Ms. Tory recently retired from Ernst & Young LLP, where she was a partner specialized in serving not-for-profit organizations. In addition to her involvement with MaRS, Ms. Tory serves as the Chair of the Board for PREVNet and the Institute of Competitiveness and Prosperity. She is on the boards of a number of other charities, including Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, George Brown College and Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services. She is also a member of CPA Canada’s Accounting Standards Oversight Council and the Standards Council of Imagine Canada. Ms. Tory holds a B.Comm from the University of Toronto and has FCPA, FCA and ICD.D designations.

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is the one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS supports promising young ventures tackling key societal challenges in the health, cleantech and ICT 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.

For media enquires, contact:
Lara Torvi
MaRS Discovery District