A Reflection on MaRS as it Turns One

The concept behind MaRS is to bring business, risk capital and science together to create a culture of commercialization and provide a market test for the technology as well as an opportunity for individuals to work with enterprises and “apprentice” with emerging companies and learn the skills for entrepreneurial start-up enterprises and tech transfer.

In Ontario—and across Canada more broadly—there is wonderful science emerging, but there has been very low translation into commercial opportunities. So there’s a big gap in making sure that, where possible, the commercial potential of research results is effectively exploited. Part of that process is rendering the discovery ready for transfer.

But a less developed capability in Canada is bringing a market test in terms of ascertaining which great ideas have the potential to become great companies. So the question becomes “How do you create and manage that market test?” How do you tap into the knowledge of companies who could be receptors?

We realized that, while each of the academic institutions has dedicated individual facility tech transfer offices, the strength of their capability could be magnified many times by collaboration and specialization among talented individuals. That is the idea behind MaRS—bringing these people and ideas together.

If we can realize the potential for commercialization of the results of science, we must also ensure that fundamental and applied research is sustained—since this is the feed-stock of discovery and innovation. By more effectively translating technological discoveries into the product lines of existing businesses and the creation of new businesses, we will achieve our long-term success and real return on the public research investment.

This vision attracted the interest of private citizens and all levels of government, who joined together to establish a dynamic public-private partnership in MaRS.

Read Part 2 of Why MaRS Matters

John R. Evans

Dr. John Evans was engaged in medical education, academic administration, government service, charitable foundations and business. He was committed to the growth of Canadian companies and to sharing knowledge with the developing world. See more…