Big data, big opportunities for innovation

Big data, big opportunities for innovation

These days, discussions about big data often revolve around tracking, monitoring and analyzing: tools exist to track how much you eat, how much you spend, how much energy you use, how much sleep you get and more. Both in business and in our personal lives, we’re creating and consuming tons of data that helps us track and monitor the way we live and work.

With generous support from the Ontario government, the MaRS Data Catalyst team (formerly ReSRC) has been working for the past year to do more than just track and analyze innovation in Ontario—we’re working to leverage big data to enable new markets and grow the economy.

The importance of tracking and evaluating innovation programs and systems is clear: using good data to drive good insight can help all of us make better decisions to ensure the success of innovators and entrepreneurs in the province. The Startup City infographic is one example of the work we’re doing in tracking the ecosystem; there will be much more to come.

Data that helps Ontario entrepreneurs

Here at MaRS Data Catalyst, we’re using the insight we gain from the data to drive new projects that use data—projects that do more than just measure: they enable new innovation. Drawing on the information that comes from our data analysis, we’ve identified a few key areas where data can help Ontario’s entrepreneurs, and we’re working to set up systems that will make sure they get the data they need.

One example of this is the cleantech sector.

An analysis done by the MaRS Data Catalyst team showed that a substantial percentage of private equity going to early-stage, Ontario-based cleantech companies was going to MaRS clients. But many of those same clients told us about the roadblocks they encountered in accessing the data they needed to grow and thrive in the market.

Using data to monitor and track the ecosystem, we’ve been able to discover an important need for this province’s entrepreneurs, as well as a larger potential in the cleantech sector around the use of smart meter data. By now, you’ve heard about the Green Button initiative in the United States. MaRS Data Catalyst is working with regulators, utilities, government, innovators and the larger industry to bring a similar system of smart disclosure around energy data to Ontario.

The work is still in its infancy, but it demonstrates the value of data as an asset for innovation. Data not only lets us track the things we do and helps us make decisions based on that insight, it also opens up new opportunities to make those decisions in a smarter, bolder and more innovative way.

We’re excited to keep working with data—and we’re looking forward to your input and excitement too. We also wanted to give a special thanks to the Ontario government for their generous support of the Data Catalyst project.

MaRS Data Catalyst brings together data and analysis from a variety of partners to track, quantify and grow Ontario’s innovation economy. It uses data and insight to support the province’s entrepreneurs, researchers, policy-makers and innovators. For more information, contact