When I was approached to create a photoblog of the MaRS highlights of 2011, my first reaction was: how will I ever choose?

Amazing things happen every day here at MaRS. Not only do we help hundreds of innovative tech and social startups get to market faster and stronger through advice, education and networking, but the MaRS Centre itself hosts many major conferences and cultural events throughout the year. When I look back at the year’s events at MaRS, seven of them impressed me with their extra, bonus amazingness!

Be sure to check out our Flickr page for high-resolution parent images (or click any image to see a larger version on Flickr).

1) February 9, 2011 – The Honourable Glen Murray, former Minister of Research and Innovation (currently Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities), announces the addition of MaRS to the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE), an innovative province-wide network of organizations with one goal – building Ontario’s economy by helping entrepreneurs.

The Honourable Glen Murray announces that MaRS will be Toronto Regional Innovation Centre in ONE network – Photo credit: Christie Allen

2) March 10, 2011 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the MaRS Centre to announce continued support for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Here he is with Dr. Cal Stiller, founding member of the MaRS Board, and Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

Photo credit: Salvatore Sacco

3) May 25, 2011 – Every year MaRS helps to educate thousands of entrepreneurs on everything from the fundamentals of planning and starting a business to the advanced aspects of getting to market successfully. Our 30-week educational course Entrepreneurship 101 culminates in the Up-Start! Competition, where selected startups vie for big prize money in a juried pitch competition. The 2011 $10,000 winners included The Hot Plate and Eve Medical.

The Hot Plates’ April Engelberg and Amanda Garbutt with Up-Start! benefactor David Campbell and judge Arshia Tabrizi / Eve Medical’s Evan Moses and Jessica Ching with MaRS’ Carol-Ann Smith

4) June 6-10, 2011 Net Change Week (NCW) is Canada’s premier event on social tech for social change. The theme for 2011 was using social media, mobile and art to communicate. Fittingly, NCW partnered with McLuhan100 to present Through the Vanishing Point, an international art installation dedicated to Marshall McLuhan and the future of communications.

Through the Vanishing Point presented vignettes of McLuhan through an innovative multimedia installation / MaRS CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnicht with NCW coordinator Lisa Torjman

5) July 20, 2011 – The re-launch of MaRS Phase 2 construction is announced after a pause due to the economic recession. Scheduled for completion in 2013, the new building will make MaRS one of the world’s largest urban innovation centres, enabling us to expand our mission of helping to build Ontario’s innovation and knowledge economy. It’s also a really cool looking building that will make a very positive contribution to the architectural and cultural landscape of Toronto.

MaRS Phase 2 will rise some 20 stories above the corner of University and College / A smiling MaRS CEO, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht announces the re-start of Phase 2/ MaRS Chair Emeritus Dr. John Evans listens with his family to the Phase 2 announcement

6)October 26, 2011 – The opening of the permanent exhibit marking the discovery of insulin. The MaRS Centre was built on the site of the old Toronto General Hospital wing where Frederick Banting and Charles Best first began testing their extracts on human patients. Numerous luminaries attended the gala opening ceremony, including Dr. Michael Bliss, author of the book, The Discovery of Insulin.

The insulin exhibit showcases a range artifacts, from the discovery and trial process to the subsequent awarding of the Nobel Prize / Dr. Michael Bliss gestures to the location within MaRS where the first human insulin trials occurred

7) November 14, 2011Launch of the new $100 polymer bank note. The theme shown on Canada’s new $100 bill is medical innovation, so what better place to launch it than MaRS, a place where medical innovation history continues to be made. MaRS CEO, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, was on hand to help Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, introduce the innovative new bill to world.

Governor Carney announces the new bill / MaRS CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnicht and Governor Carney display a commemorative framing

Jeff Beardall

As Senior Producer for MaRS Media, I have the privilege of filming, photographing and sharing many of the intriguing events, lectures and conferences at the MaRS Centre. See more…