MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 for Researchers: Up-Start Competition Winner announced

$10,000 Cash prize awarded for the best business idea

Toronto, May 10, 2006 – MaRS Discovery District’s Entrepreneurship 101 for Researchers: Up-Start Competition announced its winning team of researchers with the best business idea on May 3, 2006 at the MaRS Centre. The winning company, Mobile Laboratory Services, founded by the University of Toronto’s Altaf Kassam, Oscar Lin and Charudutt Shah, was presented with a $10,000 cheque courtesy of the competition sponsor, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. Second place winner was Sang Nahm, followed by Keith Pardee, Peter Wong and Andres Lopez (Compound2 Pharmaceuticals) placing third.

Altaf Kassam of Mobile Laboratory Services describes his team’s reaction to the win as “one of great surprise given the caliber of the competition,” adding that, “Our success is a testament to the value of the MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 course and its organizers which provided myself and my teammates with the tools needed to take an idea and turn it into a successful proposal. Now the task at hand is to turn it into a great success!”

Altaf is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto. He is returning to school this fall to pursue an MBA at the Rotman School of Management due in part to the MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 course. Teammates Oscar Lin and Charudutt Shah have just completed their first year in the Master of Biotechnology Program (M.Biotech), School of Graduate Studies, U of T.

The MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 for Researchers course was launched in October, 2005 as part of MaRS’ suite of programs to support the development and growth of young companies.

This 32-week non-credit course is designed to introduce members of the research community to issues relating to starting and growing a technology-based business. It targets graduate students, post-docs, faculty, technicians and others active in research in a scientific or engineering discipline, who have an interest in creating a company to exploit the results of their research.

For the course-ending Up-Start Competition, teams of students presented a 10-minute pitch for their business idea and applied what they learned in the course. The following six criteria were used by an independent panel of judges to evaluate the pitches:

  1. Did they clearly articulate the value proposition?
  2. Did they demonstrate competitive differentiation and intellectual capital?
  3. Did they demonstrate a business model that makes money?
  4. Did they demonstrate market awareness?
  5. How effective was the overall presentation?
  6. Would you invest?

Judges for the event included Jeanette Ho, Interface Biologics, Peter Suma of GrowthWorks, and Victor Scutaru of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

The second and third place teams will receive complementary legal advice from Ogilvy Renault LLP, while four other teams will receive advice from Heenan Blaikie LLP.

The Entrepreneurship 101 course is based on the successful program offered last year by Professors Cynthia Goh and Dwayne Miller of the Department of Chemistry and Institute for Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto. This year it is offered through a partnership between MaRS and the organizers of last year’s program.

About Ontario Centres of Excellences Inc.

OCE Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation that delivers the Ontario Centres of Excellence program that is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. The OCE supports the commercialization of research, industrial and academic collaboration, and technology transfer. It also facilitates the research and education of Ontario’s best and brightest students at universities, colleges and research hospitals. The OCE’s current areas of expertise include communications and information technology, earth and environmental sciences, photonics, energy, and materials and manufacturing.

Mars Entrepreneurship 101 for Researchers: Up-start Competition

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
5:30 p.m. Reception and Award Presentation
MaRS Collaboration Centre Cafe
MaRS Centre
101 College Street, Toronto, ON

For More Information please contact

Jocelyn Brodie
Vice President Marketing & Communications
Ontario Centres of Excellence
Tel: 416-861-1092 x 1027


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