MaRS commends provincial budget: key economic initiatives strengthen innovation

Toronto, March 27, 2009 – With a range of technology, research and infrastructure funding priorities, yesterday’s budget has continued the Province of Ontario’s strong record of supporting an economic strategy built on innovation and commercialization.

“It is particularly important to maintain the focus on innovation as we navigate through these extraordinary economic times, to ensure the region’s ability to compete and prosper in the years ahead,” said MaRS CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnicht. “Given the importance of the commercial development of innovative products and services as a driver of economic growth, it is critically important for the government to invest across the innovation lifecycle – from research to product development and market launch – and that’s what this budget does.”

Included in the 2009/2010 budget were the following key economic initiatives enhancing innovation:

  • $300 million in capital funds over six years for research infrastructure, which will be available to leverage funding from the federal Canada Foundation for Innovation;
  • $250 million over five years for a new Emerging Technologies Fund;
  • $100 million over four years in additional operating funds for research performed in the biomedical field, focusing on genomics and gene-related research;
  • $50 million over five years to enable the research, capital, and demonstration projects necessary for the development of a smart grid in Ontario;
  • $50 million over four years to enhance the successful Innovation Demonstration Fund;
  • Using Ontario’s buying power to support the province’s emerging innovative green technology companies: the government will dedicate $30 million annually for initial purchases of homegrown green technology products and to demonstrate the effectiveness of these products to potential customers here and around the world;
  • Numerous other investments, tax credits, and tax reductions supporting innovative companies in many sectors.

The Emerging Technologies Fund is targeted at the critical lack of growth capital for young Ontario technology companies, and will co-invest with the private sector.  The commitment to test, develop and buy our own innovative green technologies makes both economic and environmental sense.  The Ontario Government, with its large real estate holdings, fleets, etc. can create important market validation and market pull for innovative clean tech products and services developed here, making it much easier for the companies that develop them to convince customers elsewhere in the world of their value. “This notion of proactively adopting our own innovations early also reflects an important cultural shift for Canadians,” Dr. Treurnicht said. “It is about time we show the confidence and belief in our own great ideas.”

Complementing the innovation elements highlighted in the budget, the Ministry of Research and Innovation is in the final stages of a comprehensive review of its investments in commercialization and business acceleration. The arm’s length Ontario Commercialization Network (OCN) Steering Committee, appointed by MRI, recently published its high-level recommendations and the details of the full plan are expected in the coming weeks. The goal of the current review is to ensure that MRI’s commercialization investments are applied strategically and in a manner that will create the most impact.

“We at MaRS are proud to be part of Ontario’s Innovation Agenda, as active managers of the Premier’s Summit Awards, the Business Mentorship and Entrepreneurship Program and the Investment Accelerator Fund (in partnership with OCE), as well as a vibrant social innovation program (SiG@MaRS),” Dr. Treurnicht added. “These programs are all key components of the Ministry of Research and Innovation and Ontario’s strategy to foster innovation and commercialization – building the economy of the future.”

About MaRS
MaRS Discovery District ( is a large scale, mission driven innovation centre located in Toronto and networked across Ontario, focused on building Canada’s next generation of technology companies. MaRS works closely with entrepreneurs to grow and scale their ventures into global market leaders in life sciences and health care, information, communications and digital media technologies, cleantech, advanced materials and engineering, as well as innovative social purpose business.

For more information, contact:
Linda Quattrin
Director Communications
MaRS Discovery District