If you want to be successful in any organization, it’s imperative that you surround yourself with the most interesting big thinkers and with leaders who can push you, challenge you and pull you into the future. The adage “You are the company you keep” is particularly apt when it comes 48 hours in the valley, to innovation. Think Frederick Banting and Charles Best. Think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Think Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

We’ve embraced this notion at MaRS from the very beginning, collaborating with some of the “best of us” across private and public sectors, academia and entrepreneurship, and spanning capital, corporate and social innovation arenas.

MaRS is now at an interesting pivot point, both physically and as an organization. For those of you in our neighborhood, you may have noticed an edifice rising up at Canada’s epicentre of innovation: College Street and University Avenue in Toronto. This Phase 2 expansion, which will be completed by September 2013, will double the footprint of our physical space as a “beacon of innovation.” And as exciting as that this, our ambitions for what Canadian innovation can be—and how we can support it—likely outstrip that physical growth by a significant exponential factor.

So as we launch and tell the story of our next chapter of innovation, we at MaRS recognize the need to engage and collaborate with all of our stakeholders more deeply, more creatively, more broadly and more geographically wide.

With that in mind, we have invited 20 external leaders of the corporate, digital, media, marketing, creative and design industries to join a hothouse of 12 MaRS staff to produce innovation wonderment. We call them the MaRS Mavens. We’re already so grateful for their investment of time and energy, and would like to credit them here publicly.

  • Paul Barter, vice-president, research, T4G
  • Jennifer Bell, vice-president, communications, Toronto International Film Festival Group
  • Willa Black, vice-president, corporate affairs, Cisco Canada
  • Mary Jane Braide, principal, MJ Braide
  • Lisa de Wilde, CEO, TVO
  • Ferg Devins, chief public affairs officer, Molson Coors Canada
  • Todd Finch, Corporate Partnerships and MaRS Advisor
  • Nicole German, head of marketing, LinkedIn
  • Barry Hillier, founder, Dashboard
  • Mary Keating, senior vice-president and national practice leader, technology communications, Hill + Knowlton Strategies
  • Alison King, president, Media Profile
  • Amber MacArthur, founder/TV host, MGI Media/“App Central”
  • Stuart MacDonald, chief marketing and revenue officer, FreshBooks
  • Idris Mootee, CEO, Idea Couture
  • Erin O’Keefe, Head of Global Brand Management, KPMG
  • Tony Pigott, president and CEO, JWT
  • Duncan Stewart, director of research, Deloitte Canada
  • Kevin Stolarick, research director, Martin Prosperity Institute
  • Max Valiquette, managing director of intellectual property and content, Bensimon Byrne
  • Brenda van Ginkel, MaRS advisor
  • Scotty Vanderwel, vice-president of corporate strategy and planning, Rogers Communications Inc.
  • Kim Warburton, vice-president, communications and public affairs, GE Canada

We are currently prioritizing what top engagement challenges this group will bite into, but we know sparks will fly. We also fully expect that, over the course of the year, this group will expand to include other subject matter experts who are stoked by the cause of leading the new generation of Canadian innovation. Let us know if you’d like to throw your hat in the ring.

We asked the MaRS Mavens what they thought of the open-ended question “Innovation is….” Have a look at a cross-section of what they came back with below.

MaRs Mavens Speak – “Innovation is…”

Sean Moffitt

Sean provides executive marketing, community engagement and digital counsel to MaRS and is the author of the award-winning book Wikibrands – Reinventing Your Company in a Customer-Driven Marketplace (McGraw-Hill). See more…