Green energy engages financial community
Entrepreneurâ€™s Toolkit: Valuable free online resources
Act now to innovate, Hon. John Manley writes
Toronto and MaRS UpFront Vancouver join forces in biotech
Convergence Volume 5 Issue 1
BEYOND OUR BORDERS Bringing Ontario innovation to the world PAGE 10 i
BY THE NUMBERS MaRS Advisory Services is building Ontarioâ€™s next generation of growth companies through: WORKING WITH INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS ACROSS THE PROVINCE
1100 637 Active clients as of mid-2010
Total clients since 2006
PROVIDING HOURS OF INDIVIDUAL HANDS-ON ADVISORY SERVICES
9164 Mentorship hours in the past 12 months
A NETWORK OF SEASONED ADVISORS
Number of total advisors
Percentage of volunteer advisors
MAKING THESE SERVICES ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
Cost for entrepreneurs to access advisory services Source: MaRS Performance Management Program as reported to MaRS Board of Directors. Numbers exclude Market Intelligence practice. All numbers as of June 30th, except advisor hours (March 31st, 2010). Note: MaRS Advisory Services is funded by MaRS Centre operations, philanthropic donations and the Governments of Ontario & Canada.
Grand Challenges Canada
Photo Credit: Markos Tesome
On May 3, the Hon. Jim Flaherty, Canada’s Minister of Finance, announced the launch of Grand Challenges Canada and its Development Innovation Fund, a $225 million fund to support world solutions to global health challenges. MaRS tenant McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health will host Grand Challenges Canada, which aims to help redefine Canada’s role in the developing world by bringing Canadian scientists, developing-world scientific researchers and the private sector together to solve some of the world’s most persistent health challenges.
MaRS client lights up Vancouver Olympics MaRS client InteraXon was the talk of the town during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games—its Bright Ideas installation, the world’s largest thought-controlled computing experience, gave Ontario House visitors a chance to control lights on the Parliament Buildings, the CN Tower and Niagara Falls using only their brainwaves. After grabbing a seat in a specially designed pod, donning a headset and spending three minutes learning how to control their brainwaves, users were able to change the colours and flashing frequency of lights on Ontario’s most recognizable landmarks. Cameras fixed on the landmarks captured the changes and relayed video right back to Vancouver, so users (and observers) could see the effects of their thoughts in real time. Check out more at www.interaxon.ca.
And the winner is... Student entrepreneurs don’t always have it easy—in addition to staying on top of classes, conducting research and remembering to do laundry, they have to do the hard work of starting and running a business. Vincent Cheung is a phenomenal student entrepreneur. Cheung is a PhD student at U of T and the founder of Shape Collage, a computer software program that allows users to arrange photos in custom-shaped collages. After just one year, Shape Collage has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times by users in 200 countries, has six-figure revenues and, as of May 2010, is the winner of MaRS’ 2010 UpStart Competition. The Upstart Competition is the spring conclusion to CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101. All competitors presented executive summaries of their ideas and 12 finalists pitched their businesses to a panel of esteemed judges. This year’s judging panel—Jeff Brown (General Manager, Business Banking), Shirley Speakman (Director of Investments for the Investment Accelerator Fund) and Pierre Legault (Directeur Général/CEO, Industries Goodwill Renaissance Montréal)—were impressed by Cheung’s product, his success so far and his plans to expand Shape Collage’s offerings and reach. May was a busy month for Cheung: on May 13, he was crowned the 2010 Student Entrepreneur National Champion by Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE). Amy Harder, President of ACE, said, “He was able to turn a hobby into a fast-growing company in only one year—this in itself is an unbelievable feat and we can’t wait to see what’s next for this bright star.”
Now in its 5th year at MaRS, more than 420 leaders in the web community gathered in May for mesh, Canada’s premier web conference.
Convergence is published two times per year by MaRS Discovery District, a charitable organization focused on building the next generation of high-growth technology and social purpose businesses. Copyright 2010. Editor Linda Quattrin firstname.lastname@example.org Lead Writer Vanessa Caldwell email@example.com Designer Meagan Durlak firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors Geraldine Cahill, Lea Cameron, Claude Soulodre and Lisa Torjman Charitable registration # 876682717-RR0001 Publication agreement # 41366530 Printed in Canada
Green energy engages Bay Street Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act has been engineered to kickstart a new industry. Introduced in 2009, the Green Energy Act aims to expand renewable energy production, encourage energy conservation and create green jobs in Canada. And while the legislation is now in place to start building green energy infrastructure, the issue of funding this infrastructure is a hot one. The Green Energy Act has brought into being an entirely new class of financial assets: financing Feed-in Tariff (FIT) based renewable energy projects. The FIT program guarantees a good rate of return for wind, solar, hydro and biogas projects—it’s like a government guaranteed bond that pays upwards of 10 per cent. In the first half of 2010, MaRS hosted two events to engage the financial community in the first real discussions about the opportunities of the Green Energy Act: the Community Power Finance Forum and Green Energy Act Finance Forum. The sold-out crowds showed that Bay Street is ready to engage in Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Investors, bankers, government officials and sector players from across Ontario and around the world gathered for discussions about investment opportunities and methods of participation in the renewable energy market. Among the speakers at the Green Energy Act Finance Forum were Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Province of Ontario), Jérôme Guillet (Dexia Crédit Local), Nils Mellquist, (Deutsche Asset Management) and Brad Duguid (Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure). The goal was to educate the Ontario financial community about Feed-in Tariff policies abroad and Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff program and inspire confidence in Ontario’s investment climate for renewable energy projects and companies. “The main thing is that there are consistent regulatory frameworks and consistent policies,” said Guillet, who is Head of Energy for Dexia Crédit Local. “Renewable energy requires long periods to be returned; it’s a high initial investment and has long periods for repayment, so you need a very stable framework for that repayment with reasonable risks that the bank can bear. Banks need a good estimate that things are not going to change in the next five years. ”
The Community Power Finance Forum served to educate and engage the community power sector as to the extent of this opportunity. Among the attendees were municipalities and community groups, including energy co-ops, farmers and rural landowners, institutions, urban project aggregators and other non-profits, in addition to the funding institutions supporting the community power sector. Learn more about the GEAFF at www.marsdd.com/ greenenergyforum. Check out the Community Power Finance Forum at www.marsdd.com/communitypower.
GREEN POLITICS = good economics Robert F. Kennedy Jr. knows his way around America’s environmental problems. So when he delivered a keynote address at MaRS for Advertising Week 2010, it was no surprise that he spoke of his country’s environmental ills (like the real costs of coal production: destroyed landscapes, dangerous health effects and dwindling benefits for local economies). According to Kennedy, who was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet,” there are opportunities ahead. Green environmental policies make good economic sense, and Canada and the US have the size and power to dominate the global shift to green energy, from solar energy farms in California to South Dakota’s impressive wind power industry. Read more about RFK Jr.’s work at www.riverkeeper.org.
2 | SUMMER 2010
Incubating companies, ideas and relationships Home to 20+ up-and-coming companies—spanning the second and third floors of the MaRS Centre’s South Tower—the MaRS Incubator is a hub of entrepreneurial activity. The Incubator offers more than just state-of-the-art lab and office space: it’s a collaborative community where companies can focus on their development, knowing that the basics are taken care of (whether they need meeting space and a photcopier or -80° freezers and a centrifuge). Among new MaRS tenants in 2010: Distility offers a “1day1brand” program that puts a company’s best people in a room for one day with an insightful branding expert and a leading-edge collaborative decision support system—after eight hours, they’ll emerge with an essential brand that’s clear, honest and competitive. www.distility.com Fluorinov Pharma Inc. uses modern fluorine-based medicinal chemistry to develop medicines that are novel, safer and more effective than currently available medicines. www.fluorinovpharma.com Marksman Cellject Inc. works in robotic biomaterial manipulation and automated robotic cell injection. Current manual injection suffers from a long learning curve, low success rates and low reproducibility due to human errors and inconsistency. Marksman aims to eliminate these errors and inconsistencies: its first commercial product is an intracytoplasm sperm injection system that will make in vitro fertilization (IVF) simpler and less expensive. www.marksman-cellject.com Rocksteady Investments works with very early-stage cleantech companies to commercialize ideas that will improve air, water and soil quality. Its founders believe in cleantech for reasons that extend
beyond the financial—they believe in “doing well by doing good.” www.rocksteadyinvestments.com Vicicog has developed a new kind of transmission system that can deliver greater efficiencies to a range of industries, including HVAC, wind turbine manufacture and the automotive sector. www.vicicog.com XYZ Interactive has developed a series of low-cost sensors that can be used to determine the precise location of an object in space. Its sensor technology can be used for simple presence, distance and gesture measurement in consumer electronics, or complex absolute positioning, as required in augmented reality environments and computer-assisted surgery applications. www.xyzinteractive.com
Stimulating social change It’s not often that a former Liberal Prime Minister and a former Conservative Party leader agree, but the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin and John Tory saw eye to eye last fall on one thing: social entrepreneurship in Canada needs support. Martin and Tory, along with Social Capital Partners founder Bill Young, visited MaRS to discuss how market forces and social entrepreneurship can be used to solve social challenges in Canada. Their top three suggestions: Improve access to investment capital. “During this recession, social entrepreneurs received none of the stimulus money provided by the government, [even though] they provide jobs and stimulate growth,” Martin noted. Dismantle barriers to employment. “[At Social Capital Partners], our vision is that 10 years from now, every Fortune 500 company will have a social hiring program [improving access to entry-level positions] integrated into their HR practice,” Young said. Make positive regulatory changes. Work toward introducing tax incentives to encourage investment in social enterprises. Watch the whole discussion at www.vimeo.com/7605361
Investing in Ontario It’s not news that 2009 was the worst year for venture capital investment in Ontario in over a decade. In Q4, however, companies that MaRS advisors worked with directly collectively raised over $11 million in private funding (VC and angel sources), with an additional $9 million in public sector investment. And the first half of 2010 was promising. These clients of MaRS advisory services raised over six million dollars through Ontario-based investment funds: Bering Media
Kalgene Diagnostics (MaRS Incubator), a developer of personalized cancer diagnostics and drugs for the treatment of various types of cancer, received a $500,000 investment from PARTEQ. The PARTEQ Venture Fund is a provinciallysponsored investment fund set up by the tech transfer office of Queen’s University to help companies bring their innovative technologies to market.
OncoTek Drug Delivery Inc., a subsidiary of Receptor Therapeutics (MaRS Incubator), obtained $500,000 of development funding from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. OncoTek is working on pre-clinical development of PoLi-PTX, an ovarian cancer therapy that would deliver localized cancer-killing agents to the abdominal cavity with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy.
Therapeutic Monitoring Systems
Location-based online advertising company Bering Media completed its Series A financing round in early January. The investment from Tech Capital Partners, with participation from GrowthWorks Commercialization Fund and the Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund, will allow Bering Media to grow its engineering team and develop its sales and marketing efforts.
Ottawa-based Therapeutic Monitoring Systems, which is developing software to improve intensive care patient monitoring, has raised over $450,000 in combined angel investment and IRAP funding to date this year. In addition, its founder was awarded $660,000 from CIHR to expand its multi-centre clinical study evaluating its software.
Vicicog (MaRS Incubator), which is developing proprietary transmission technology targeted for the HVAC market, closed a round of angel funding in mid-2010 led by two major investors, Up Capital Ltd. and Valleydene Corporation, and totaling over $600,000.
Through the Innovation Demonstration Fund, the Government of Ontario invested $3.8 million in Vive Nano, a Torontobased company that has developed an environmentally-friendly process for creating products and materials using nanotechnology. The funds will help Vive Nano build a pilot plant, refine its processes, come to full production levels and create new high-skill jobs.
In July 2010, Marketwire news service acquired Sysomos, a Toronto-based company that offers advanced social media monitoring and analytics. Since 2006, MaRS advisors and mentors have provided a range of services to help Sysomos with business development. Sysomos investors include the Investment Accelerator Fund and the GrowthWorks Commercialization Fund.
Scoping the colon Developed and presented by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, the Giant Colon is a walk-through attraction that’s making its way across the country, informing and educating the public about the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer. On May 8, the colon made a stop at MaRS in conjunction with the province-wide science festival Science Rendezvous. Science Rendezvous at MaRS also included tours of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and University Health Network labs.
4 | SUMMER 2010
O Canada! In June 2010, a group of new Canadians participated in MaRS’ annual citizenship ceremony. Pictured from left to right: Claire Reid, Director of Building Citizenships at ICC, Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS Discovery District, Glen Murray, MPP Toronto Centre, Judge Raminder Gill and Kaitlin Kimove (the Piper).
TURNS FIVE! A
ccessible. Practical. Free of charge. When MaRS set out to design an educational series for entrepreneurs, these were the core principles at work. It was 2005. The doors had recently opened on the newly constructed MaRS Centre and the question was: if we offer it, will they come? The answer was a resounding yes. Entrepreneurship 101 has blossomed into one of the most popular free entrepreneurship education programs in Canada. The program’s audience has grown to over 1,800 students for the 2009/10 sessions, up more than 150 per cent from the 579 students registered in 2006/07. The curriculum has expanded to include social entrepreneurship, more expert speakers and a greater number of “Lived It” lectures featuring talks by experienced entrepreneurs. Since 2006, videos of all lectures have been available online—students can interact with speakers and MaRS staff through video comments and earn credit for their attendance. Total online participation grew more than 250 per cent in the last year alone to 7,500 video page views. The success of Entrepreneurship 101, which has been sponsored by CIBC since 2006, can be measured in a number of ways—by the increased attendance at live lectures, by the high-profile guest speakers and, most importantly, by the success of the companies whose teams have completed the program. Three of these graduates—Vive Nano, CognoVision and Shape Collage—are now successful start-ups and clients of MaRS’ Advisory Services. The three co-founders of Northern Nanotech, now Vive Nano, participated in Entrepreneurship 101 three times. Darren Anderson, Jordan Dinglasan and Gwynn Curran-Sills had zero staff when they first took the course in 2005/06. Over the last four years, Vive Nano has grown from a local nanotechnology company with one full-time employee to an 18-person operation with clients around the world. In 2009, Vive Nano was selected one of Corporate
Knights magazine’s Cleantech Next 10 Emerging Leaders and also received a Deloitte Technology Green 15 Award. “Without the mentoring and educational services provided by MaRS, Northern Nanotechnologies likely never would have been founded,” says Anderson, Vive Nano’s founder and Chief Technology Officer. “The most useful aspect of Entrepreneurship 101 was the introduction to things we needed to think about when starting a company and the people who could help us navigate each of these issues.” CognoVision’s Haroon Mirza completed Entrepreneurship 101 in 2007/08. CognoVision’s business plan placed second in the 2008 Upstart Competition (the annual conclusion of Entrepreneurship 101), which gave the company’s founders the confidence to move forward. CognoVision provides automated audience measurement and retail intelligence solutions. In early 2010, Intel and Microsoft announced a six-month effort toward a standards-based, interactive digital signage future and their prototype—which changes screen content in real time based on face detection and tracking technology—is powered by CognoVision’s technology. Earlier this year, Vincent Cheung placed first in the Upstart Competition with his business plan for Shape Collage (read more about Cheung on page 1). Along with valuable pitching experience and a business plan critique from experts, the Upstart Competition comes with a $10,000 prize to help get the winning business off the ground. For Vive Nano, CognoVision and Shape Collage, Entrepreneurship 101 and the Upstart Competition provided some of the much-needed help (and financing) that new companies need. Entrepreneurship 101 has evolved and changed over the last five years, but always remained true to its original goal: to provide essential information to emerging entrepreneurs on how to start and grow a company. They’ve come away with new connections, new partnerships and new knowledge that are driving the next generation of Canadian companies.
From the left: Harry Rosen, Michael McCain, Bob Deluce, Jed Emerson, Bill Young and Steve Croth, all “Lived It” lecturers in 2009/10.
MaRS Business of Aging
Facing the aging challenge
Best in brain fitness
Ontario Innovation Summit at MaRS focused on autonomy, productivity and public policy
The world’s aging population faces a multitude of challenges: diabetes, heart disease, dementia and marginalization among them. Add to this the scale of demographic change under way. By 2020, Canadians over the age of 65 will outnumber those under the age of 15, and if the current yearly growth in life expectancy continues throughout the 21st century, most babies born after 2000 will live to celebrate their 100th birthdays. The implications of this are daunting—from the demands of physical health issues to mental health problems to social consequences—but where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. In December 2009, MaRS and the Premier’s Office partnered to present the first Ontario Innovation Summit: The Business of Aging, a two-day conference designed to catalyze commercial opportunities and create an engaging dialogue between leaders and innovators who understand the key elements of the aging challenge. Nearly 300 delegates from around the world joined scientists, entrepreneurs and policymakers at MaRS. Read more about the conference proceedings at www.businessofaging.com. Stay tuned for the next event in the series.
Three key concepts explored at the conference: Productivity and independence
Autonomy and cognitive health
Public policy and commitment to action
This strand focused on rethinking technology, community and wellness to optimize economic contribution and quality of life. Sessions explored advances in enabling technologies to support independence and designing living spaces and community infrastructure for an age-friendly society.
Advances in brain fitness took centre stage at the summit, particularly as a field in which Ontario is well-positioned to excel as a global leader. With popular brain fitness products sprouting up on consumer shelves, the market to develop clinically relevant brain fitness tools remains fertile.
The goal is to put innovation to work across the continuum of aging. A policy working group will pursue a cohesive innovation strategy on aging and health commercialization, including an Ontario Innovation Index to promote the strengths of working on the challenges of aging.
6 | SUMMER 2010
Hot on the heels of the Business of Aging conference, an innovative commercial venture was born: MaRS and Baycrest, one of the world’s leading memory and aging research institutes, created a new company to develop and market clinicallytested brain fitness products. The company is called Cogniciti and it will produce a suite of products, games and training protocols to help adults extend their memory and cognitive abilities. The recipe for the partnership a simple one: “With its exceptional research capabilities and commitment to providing the best possible care, Baycrest is extremely well positioned to be the global leader in its field,” says Anthony Melman, business strategist and chair of Baycrest’s board of directors. “Couple this with MaRS’ focus on innovation and we have the ingredients for the successful commercialization of Baycrest’s intellectual prowess.” The launch of Cogniciti is an important milestone for both MaRS and Baycrest. Both organizations have spent the last three years working to assemble and shape the research assets and develop the commercialization plan for Cogniciti. Memory@Work™, its first product, is a corporate training program that will teach employees, managers and team leaders how to use memory strategies to improve personal performance in the workplace. Test-marketing for Memory@ Work begins later this year.
MaRS Future of MedicineTM
Not just noxious gases Nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide: Poisonous gases or biological linchpins?
Nitric oxide functions in various physiological conditions, as well as in acute and chronic pathological conditions such as pain, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and stroke. Hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide are significant mediators in inflammation and gastric mucosal protection.
Two decades of research have revealed that these gases are incredibly important neurotransmitters in the identification and treatment of pain and other medical conditions. Scientists have uncovered powerful insights into how gaseous neurotransmitters function in physiological and pathological conditions. International leaders in the field, including 1998 Nobel laureate Dr. Ferid Murad of the University of Texas, converged at MaRS in late May for an International Symposium on Nitric Oxide and Other Gaseous Neurotransmitters—a MaRS Future of MedicineTM symposium. Presented with NeurAxon Inc., the symposium was designed to highlight the latest research in this promising field as well as shed light on how basic science-driven approaches can lead to the successful development of novel therapeutic agents. Alzheimer’s Disease Prof. Stuart Lipton, Del E. Webb Centre for Neuroscience, Aging and Stem Cell Research General Biology Dr. Ferid Murad, University of Texas Dr. John Andrews, NeurAxon Inc. Dr. John Garthwaite, University College London Prof. Michael Marletta, University of California X-Ray Structure Prof. Elsa Garcin, University of Maryland Dr. Alan Wallace, AstraZeneca R&D Charnwood
Pain Dr. Ennio Ongini, NicOx Inc. Dr. J. Olesen, University of Copenhagen Dr. Shawn Maddaford, NeurAxon Inc. Dr. Messoud Ashina, University of Copenhagen Prof. Frank Porreca, University of Arizona Prof. Richard Silverman, Northwestern University TBI/Stroke Dr. Frank Tegtmeier, Vasopharm
Parkinson’s Disease Dr. Fabio Blandini, IRCCS Neurological Institute C. Mondino Dr. Kenny K. Chung, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Hydrogen Sulfide as Neuromodulator Prof. Giuseppe Cirino, University of Naples Federico II Prof. John L. Wallace, McMaster University Prof. Rui Wang, Lakehead University
Dr. Michael Tymianski, Toronto Western Research Institute
Watch some short videos at www.marsdd.com/nitric-oxide-symposium
Entrepreneur’s Toolkit If you’re building a start-up, chances are you’re too busy to scour the web for resources. Well, we’ve created a valuable toolkit for you: www.marsdd.com is home to a host of resources for innovative Ontario entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit (marsdd. com/entrepreneurs-toolkit) contains hundreds of insightful articles on topics ranging from advisory boards to angel term sheets. The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit also offers short videos highlighting expert commentary on strategic and tactical issues relevant to entrepreneurs. In addition, workbooks are available to help entrepreneurs craft outstanding business plans and high-impact marketing strategies.
From accounting to financing options, MaRS has assembled a comprehensive suite of articles for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Workbooks Whether you’re writing your first business plan or working out your go-to-market strategy, our Entrepreneur Workbooks can help—they contain practical insight, tips and examples to help you make the most of your business planning activities. Add your company name and logo to our planning document templates to personalize your answers and your documents will be ready to share with your partners, employees and investors.
8 | SUMMER 2010
Elements of a pitch deck Decoding the investor pitch deck. Tips on how to make yours pop.
Business plan template A step-by-step guide for building an investor-ready business plan.
Funding programs Current funding programs, awards and prizes available for Ontario entrepreneurs.
Regulatory guides Regulatory guides for the life-sciences sector designed for the non-regulatory affairs professional.
What is the valuation? A look behind the scenes at how real VCs value start-up companies.
Analytical foundation A workbook to lead you through your initial market analysis and lay the groundwork for a great marketing plan.
A workbook to guide you toward the most strategic classes of capital for your business.
Intellectual property strategy Tips for developing a plan to acquire IP assets and leverage the most value from existing IP assets.
Developing and delivering a winning investor presentation A workbook to help you perfect each element of your investor pitch.
Buzz & Brain Food Innovators need to stay on top of emerging issues and trends. We keep our ear to the ground and deliver engaging daily blogs, videos and in-depth market reports to feed your brain and build your business. Learn more at www.marsdd.com/buzz.
Life Sciences Social Innovation Cleantech IT, Communications & Entertainment Entrepreneur
Featured content includes: Blogs With more than a dozen contributors from a range of sectors, the awardwinning MaRS blog is the place for news and analysis of events and trends impacting the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. MaRS Reports MaRS analysts regularly prepare reports examining issues in the innovation economy. The reports provide sector overviews and analyses you won’t find anywhere else. Find them at www.marsdd.com/buzz/reports. Meet the Entrepreneurs Success breeds success, right? Learn how other savvy start-ups are dealing with challenges and what strategies they are using to grow their companies and secure investment. Videos MaRS hosts several educational sessions each month. Whether you’re looking for information on branding or biotech, MaRS staff, expert volunteers and guest speakers share their expertise and advice with an audience of keen entrepreneurs. Missed a Best Practices session or curious about a conference that happened at MaRS? You’ll find videos of full sessions, highlight reels and in-depth interviews at www.marsdd.com/buzz.
A Bright Future for Diagnostic Imaging in Ontario An in-depth report on the latest technologies, trends and opportunities in diagnostic imaging and an introduction to Ontario’s worldclass diagnostic imaging cluster.
Social Entrepreneurship: Legislative Innovations A study of legislative innovations paving the way for the next generation of highimpact social enterprises.
Public Relations 101— four hot tips for start-ups How to harness the power of great PR.
Managing your career: The art of selling yourself Entrepreneurs have careers, too. Tips on how to manage yours.
Featured companies include: Arctic DX: A genetic test for macular degeneration Bitstrips: The online comic engine that could CognoVision: Changing the retail landscape Morgan Solar: Making solar energy accessible to all Sysomos: Social media chatter simplified
BORDERS We must play to win. By Dr. Ilse Treurnicht
e live in remarkable times. The world economy is staggering toward recovery from the historic downturn of 2008/2009, with added environmental and social pressures on governments and businesses everywhere. The knowledge economy is now a global enterprise—ideas, talent and capital are its highly mobile resources. Compared to many countries, Canada has weathered the storm remarkably well, despite gut-wrenching job losses in many communities and in our traditional industries. The critical question is: Can we take advantage of our relatively stable economy and use innovation to accelerate our recovery and build jobs for the future? We have the strong foundation of an innovation economy in place, with our highly skilled, globally-connected workforce as a primary asset. Over the past 10 to 15 years, we have strengthened the capacity of our universities across Canada with significant investments in research infrastructure and talent. We are also seeing a growing emphasis on commercialization, with programs such as the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) focused on developing a structured support system to convert ideas from academic labs and the garages of inventors into jobs and new companies, or to get those ideas and associated talent into the competitive arsenal of existing Canadian companies. We are generally good at idea generation and strong in science, no question. We have a long history of generating breakthrough innovations—from the discoveries of insulin and stem cells, to advances in material science, energy and advanced communications—that make a difference in the world. We now need to get much better at turning our important ideas into high value products and services, which will fuel the growth of Canadian companies and our economy, and, in turn, create prosperous communities across the country. This is how we can ensure that our children and grandchildren will have interesting and rewarding jobs right here in Canada in years to come.
10 | SUMMER 2010
BUILDING GROWTH COMPANIES While running a scientific experiment is a meticulous process— requiring thorough planning, properly designed protocols, careful observation and rigorous analysis of results—building a technology business is much less linear. Both technology and markets often represent uncharted terrain. While a start-up needs the foundation of a well-researched business plan and solid market research, entrepreneurs need to remain light on their feet. If a potential investor or key customer falls through, an entrepreneur needs to be able to pull the trigger on a back-up plan. And quickly. Capital and customers wait for no one. Entrepreneurs in Canada face the additional challenges of a small, often fragmented domestic market and scarce venture capital. With only 33 million people spread out over a vast geographical distance, our population density is 1/10th that of the US and 1/100th that of the UK. It is a challenge to find that first early adopter customer in your own back yard. Culturally, we are often reluctant to test and adopt our own innovations without validation from others. On the financing side, Canadian-based firms continue to secure less than 40 per cent of funding compared to their US counterparts, according to recent figures from the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. To reach critical mass, innovative Canadian enterprises simply have to reach beyond our borders. Canadian companies need international partners, customers and investors to succeed in global markets and they have to get to those markets while they are still very young companies. The challenge for Canadian entrepreneurs is to build a robust entity from the beginning, with a very clear understanding of the market, and then leverage investment, talent and networks to efficiently reach the most fertile international ground. In the past, the proximity of the large US market offered a convenient option for market testing and early traction with customers. However, the slow economic recovery in the US is forcing Canadian entrepreneurs to look elsewhere— toward Asia, Europe and South America.
MaRS is actively engaging international relationships that can help Ontario ventures grow their businesses. Among recent partnerships are: •
Suzhou New District, China
Karolinska Institute, Sweden
Novo Nordisk, Denmark
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia
In addition, MaRS has established working relationships with Canadian trade commissioners and consulates in the US and Europe.
Awards MaRS clients continue to impress judges at local and international awards. Some of their high-profile wins of 2010 (so far) include:
That’s where MaRS is concentrating its efforts to help. MaRS has built a comprehensive suite of educational, advisory and capital services that focuses on bridging the gaps that Canadian companies need to overcome if they are to succeed. We approach this challenge with confidence: There are many good reasons to start and grow a global business in and from Canada—quality of life, diversity and quality of the talent pool, cost, stability, global networks. Collectively, we need to embrace the opportunity this represents for our economic future.
Attodyne Second Place, TiEQuest www.attodynelasers.com
Jigsee Ten Canadian mobile and wireless companies to watch, IDC Canada www.jigsee.com
MMB Research Ten Canadian mobile and wireless companies to watch, IDC Canada www.mmbresearch.com
NimTech Gowlings outstanding product achievement in clean technology award, CATAAlliance Innovation Awards www.nim-tech.com
Polar Mobile Ten Canadian mobile and wireless companies to watch, IDC Canada www.polarmobile.com
Profound Medical Start-up company with the best innovation, 2010 Ontario Premier’s Catalyst Award www.profoundmedical.com
Shape Collage Winner, Upstart Competition National champion, student entrepreneur category, Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship Exposition www.shapecollage.com
Skymeter Best traffic management innovation, best overall innovation, European Intertraffic Transportation Show www.skymetercorp.com
TOOLS AND TALENT Turning innovative ideas into reality requires a foundational skill set that marries deep technical expertise with core business principles and a solid understanding of markets and regulatory frameworks. Central to MaRS’ services is the development and delivery of a suite of practical educational programming (see Entrepreneurship 101 Turns Five! p. 5 as an example of an introductory program) and valuable online resources that can bolster this foundation for aspiring and established entrepreneurs (see Entrepreneur’s Toolkit p. 8). In 2009, MaRS hosted 73 entrepreneurship educational events, with a cumulative attendance of 7,800 people. Enhanced online educational resources were launched at the end of 2009 and are already attracting thousands of viewers. We continue to expand this multimedia content based on feedback from entrepreneurs. MaRS has also built an extensive network of mentorship talent: a mix of full-time, parttime and volunteer advisors, comprising seasoned entrepreneurs and executives who can not only strategize with and advise entrepreneurs but also broker introductions that are invaluable in gaining access to critical international contacts. “The volunteer advisors at MaRS come with Rolodexes a mile long,” says Don Duval, MaRS Vice President Business Services, who has led the three-fold expansion of MaRS’ volunteer advisory network in the past year. “We know that these connections are one of the most valuable services we offer to our clients.” Building this mentorship capacity has allowed MaRS to scale its advisory activities to serve more companies and entrepreneurs, and to provide more specialized advice to meet the unique needs of certain sectors and clients. As of June 2010, MaRS’ network of advisors was working with more than 600 active clients across the following sectors: information technology, communications and entertainment; life sciences; cleantech; materials and advanced manufacturing; and social enterprise. And market analysts, funded by the Province of Ontario and based at MaRS, delivered business-building market intelligence to nearly 800 companies across Ontario in 2009/2010. Our advisory services provide a unique window on grassroots innovation in Ontario , and increasingly, across Canada. We see the emergence of micro-sectors with leading technology platforms that align with hot market segments. Clear patterns can be observed in the challenges and bottlenecks faced by entrepreneurs, allowing us to focus our resources on addressing those effectively. We continuously measure the satisfaction of our clients with the value of our services, so that we can make improvements and adjust offerings in real time. For outcomes, we measure third-party validation through metrics such as investment attracted, products launched, partnerships secured, revenues generated and new jobs created. Tracking job and wealth creation is important as we gauge the success of our work with entrepreneurs, and we report on these and other measures in our performance management program to our Board of Directors and funding partners.
Top 50 health innovators in North America for health science and medical devices, www.somnaform.com
Verold First place, TiEQuest Elevator pitch prize, OCE Discovery 2010 www.verold.com
Vive Nano 2010 North American technology innovation of the year, Frost & Sullivan www.vivenano.com
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CAPITAL AND CUSTOMERS One of the key functions for MaRS is to connect client companies to critical reference customers, partners and investors. In addition to directly brokering introductions to relevant partners, MaRS convenes monthly venture capital forums and angel investment breakfasts to help inform investors and engage them in the opportunities that MaRS clients have to offer. These networks are growing and yielding results: MaRS client companies raised over $40 million in private investment during 2009, when venture capital investment levels in Canada reached a 14-year low. We are aiming to see that investment figure rise by at least 25 per cent in the year ahead. As of June 2010, MaRS is also administering the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), which provides seed funding to Ontario entrepreneurs across a variety of technology sectors. IAF is only one component in the bigger picture as there is much more work to
be done in building a healthy risk capital community that can support the scaling of Canadian growth companies in international markets. To that end, our advisors also identify key sector-focused trade shows and venture capital forums, and work with high-potential clients to optimize their chances for investment and partnering success at these highly competitive global forums. “Beyond the obvious development opportunities for our aspiring CEOs, these types of programs deliver measurable value to our clients in the areas of business development, market visibility and capital introductions,” says veteran information technology, communications and entertainment advisor Peter Evans. “And as recognition for MaRS grows at these events, so does investors’ confidence in the quality of Ontario’s companies.” When it comes to accessing customer networks, many MaRS clients are connecting beyond our borders and finding success. Toronto-based start-up Cognit, which provides web-based tools that support and enhance all stages of treatment for and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, found its first customer at Brentwood Meadows, an addiction treatment facility in Indiana. Echologics Engineering Inc. is a world leader in water-leak detection and pipecondition assessment. After successful projects in major Canadian cities, Echologics targeted cities all over the world: Echologics’ LeakfinderRT is currently used to identify large-scale leaks in municipal water systems in Australia, China, France, the US, and UK. Another client (and tenant at MaRS), Skymeter Corp., offers a financial grade GPS system that can be used for road-user charging, pay-as-you-drive insurance, parking and more. With pilots in cities like London (UK), Singapore and Seoul, and Tier One partners in those trials, Skymeter is earning the gold-standard international validation it needs to drive sales to the next level. ENGAGING ECOSYSTEMS The need for MaRS to connect globally also works in reverse: MaRS attracts international attention from groups across Canada and around the world, including India, China, Europe and the US. Leading jurisdictions worldwide are investing heavily in hubs and other models designed to harness the potential of their innovation assets—from university-based mentorship programs to mega-scale developments like Singapore’s Biopolis —to drive economic results. The MaRS model brings together key players across the innovation spectrum, with a focused program to accelerate ideas to the market and support the growth of companies; combined with MaRS’ distinctive history, philanthropic roots and public-private partnership, this unique platform is of interest to a wide spectrum of organizations and regions. “Given MaRS’ growing international profile, there is strong interest from a range of international players to work with us and with our companies,” says Duval, who fields global inquiries from companies and investors to trade consuls and ex-pat professionals looking to reconnect back home. “The engagement of national and international players with a similar focus often seeds partnerships that can help connect our clients to future research and development relationships as well as provide a soft landing in emerging global markets.” Another critical aspect of MaRS’ strategy is greater engagement of corporate Canada in driving the innovation economy. Countless reports have expressed concern about the lagging productivity and innovation performance of Canada’s corporate sector; MaRS is actively working to address this by bringing corporate leadership and professional service firms into productive contact with innovative entrepreneurs. The result? Relationships with telecommunications and wireless corporations, for example, are spawning new
partnerships that can not only bring fresh solutions and insights into corporations, but also propel home-grown innovation with key test markets and corporate development resources here at home. There are no simple solutions or quick fixes for building Canada’s innovation economy. It requires patience and collaboration between academic institutions, inventors, entrepreneurs, business and corporate leaders, investors and the public sector to harness local opportunities—and it requires a relentless focus on excellence and global markets to ensure that these opportunities are positioned for the highest possible impact. MaRS is tackling this challenge through the disciplined, yet flexible, implementation of its multi-pronged strategy of educational, advisory and capital services to support entrepreneurs as they grow globally competitive enterprises. MaRS is committed to making a meaningful contribution to the creation of high-value jobs for future generations of Canadians and to bringing quality of life solutions to societal challenges. We have tremendous creative strengths and talent in this country. But the innovation race is global and fiercely competitive. We must play to win. Dr. Ilse Treurnicht is CEO of MaRS Discovery District. She joined MaRS in 2005 from her role as President & CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures, a start-up stage venture capital fund focused on the advanced technologies sector.
Canadian social innovation: front and centre in the UK On April 14-16, 2010, more than 800 leaders gathered in London (UK) at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship to accelerate the impact of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs by uniting them with essential partners in a collaborative pursuit of learning, leverage and large-scale social change. Demonstrating the international profile of MaRS in the area of social entrepreneurship, CEO Dr. Ilse Treurnicht was invited to Skoll this year to participate in a session on the role of governments and social entrepreneurship. The panel invited leaders to share how they and their governments are working together to cultivate social change in their countries. Moderated by Dr.Stephen Goldsmith of the Harvard Kennedy School and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the lead organization responsible for the US $50 million Social Innovation Fund, the other panelists to join Dr. Treurnicht included Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports in Singapore; and Alastair Wilson, Chief Executive, UKbased School for Social Entrepreneurs. MaRS presented its model of working with the Province of Ontario to integrate social innovation into a broader science and technology innovation agenda. Given the overwhelming social and environmental challenges facing our globe, we clearly need our best minds working together to accelerate change. For highlights from the Skoll World Forum 2010 see www. skollworldforum.com. For a video of all the panel presentations at the Skoll World Forum, please see www.skollworldforum.com/forum-2010/2010-video
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men: every year, more than 25,000 men are diagnosed with the disease. Current treatment options for prostate cancer are effective at treating the disease, but can leave patients with serious side effects: think impotence, urinary incontinence or rectal bleeding. Paul Chipperton, CEO of Profound Medical Inc., warns, “Existing prostate cancer treatments clearly show, through long-term clinical data, a marked and serious impact on quality of life for patients.”
Two Toronto entrepreneurs are trying to change the way the world makes electricity: brothers Nicolas and John Paul Morgan, co-founders of Morgan Solar, have developed a new way to concentrate sunlight. Their technology, the Light-guide Solar Optic, has enabled Morgan Solar to build a solar panel that converts sunlight to electricity more efficiently and at less than half the cost of existing solar panels. The Sun Simba High Concentrated Photovoltaic (HCPV), Morgan Solar’s first solar panel, will also be simpler, more robust and easier to manufacture, install and maintain than the incumbents.
Quality of life for prostate cancer patients
Profound Medical is commercializing a new non-invasive prostate cancer treatment that could reduce the side-effects associated with prostate cancer treatments. Its prototype device combines the imaging capabilities of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a thermal ultrasound treatment modality that has shown, through simulations, phantom gels and pre-clinical testing, to have an impressive level of speed and effectiveness. “With Profound’s technology, doctors can use the trans-urethral ultrasound energy wand to treat the prostate, avoiding damage to the surrounding structures, and targeting just the disease,” says Chipperton. “With this technique we anticipate we can radically reduce treatment times compared with existing approved procedures.” A radical prostatectomy, the current standard treatment for prostate cancer, takes three hours and usually requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay of two to four days. In contrast, Profound’s procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Profound has worked with MaRS on several initiatives since the company’s founding in 2008. “The most important initiative for Profound was the Embedded Executive (EE) program, through a program funded by NRC-IRAP and jointly administrated by MaRS and BMEP. It afforded six-month access to regulatory professionals that advised and advanced the company’s strategy and engagement with US FDA, as well as strategies for both Health Canada and the EU,” says Chipperton. “With our small team and tight budget, I confess I was struggling to find the right people to help with this critical part of the company’s advancement.” Recently, Profound secured one of the US’s top hospitals as its FDA safety/feasibility trial lead site. In the last two years, Profound has caught the attention of media around the world and won a number of prestigious awards: one of Canada’s Top 10 Companies 2008, Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation; Best Intellectual Property and Best-in-Class in Healthcare and Life Sciences, TiEQuest 2010; and Start-Up Company with Best Innovation, 2010 Premier’s Catalyst Awards. In 2009, Profound was featured on DOTMed.com, in the Globe and Mail, and in a Boston Globe article about the 11th Annual MedTech Investors Conference. Profound’s technology may be three to five years away from market, but it represents a new kind of hope for prostate cancer patients and their families—hope for a safer, easier and more comfortable treatment plan, hope for a faster recovery and hope for a better quality of life after treatment. Read more about Profound at www.profoundmedical.com.
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Developing affordable energy for all
“It hasn’t been an easy road. Our first prototype didn’t work and neither did our second or third,” says John Paul, Morgan Solar’s President and Chief Technology Officer. “In fact, we sent one of our very early prototypes to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and the thing caught fire. That was a learning experience!” But even before testing prototypes, John Paul, Nicolas and their team spent a great deal of time learning about the inherent design challenges of existing solar panels in order to make solar energy cheaper to produce.
“ Early endorsement from MaRS helped us create a snowball effect. “ The key to the Sun Simba is its innovative use of materials. “We needed to find a way to develop a solar technology that used only commodity materials—we wanted to be sure that our use of materials didn’t start to push the price up,” says John Paul. By using highly efficient PV cells—the same kind that are used on the International Space Station—Morgan Solar uses about 1/1000th of the area and spends four times less for the semi-conductor than standard silicon solar panels. The issue of cost is an important one for Morgan Solar—and not just for reasons of manufacturing. One of the major problems with the large-scale adoption of solar energy is that it is more expensive than conventional electricity-producing options in many locales. “Solar simply can’t overtake traditional energy until the cost is lowered enough to compete,” says John Paul. With MaRS’ help, Morgan Solar was able to move forward faster than it would have alone. Morgan Solar worked with MaRS to prepare for investor presentations and develop its pitch. “Early endorsement from MaRS helped us create a snowball effect—one thing led to another. We found ourselves presenting to people who would later become important partners,” says John Paul. Morgan Solar’s forward-thinking technologies and manufacturing processes have turned the company into one to watch in the solar power sector. It’s planning its first commercial deliveries for early 2011, with global sales, manufacturing and delivery capabilities ramping up soon after. It seems that the world is ready for inexpensive solar power—and Morgan Solar aims to be the company that provides it.
Visit Morgan Solar at www.morgansolar.com.
Fantasy gaming meets live-action sports
Attention sports fans: the way you watch your favourite games is changing. For the first time ever, football, hockey and basketball fans can participate in fantasy gaming during a live game. Whether on the couch or in the stands, fans can use up-to-the-second statistics to play online or on a mobile device—all thanks to Toronto-based company and MaRS client InGamer Sports.
The beauty of InGamer is that it can be played almost anywhere, from stadiums to bars, and can be played around one game or an entire season, capturing casual fans in addition to serious ones. “Broadcasters across North American are losing eyeballs to other digital distractions,” says Sulsky. “InGamer allows them to keep those viewers while the viewers stay engaged in a different way.”
InGamer is the only fantasy sports game that allows users to make changes to their teams based on how a game is actually being played. Don’t like how a player played in the first quarter? No problem—swap him out before the next quarter starts. Best player on your team injured? Find a replacement, fast, and slide him into the line-up.
With the help of experienced advisors like Cam Bradley (see page 16), Krista Jones and Sue McGill, InGamer was able to move forward at a terrific pace—but only after some serious hard work. “It took MaRS a long time to get us ready to pitch to angels and VCs. When we first came to MaRS we were totally unprepared—we just didn’t know how to express ourselves in a way investors could understand,” says Sulsky. “If it weren’t for MaRS’ help, people wouldn’t take InGamer seriously.”
“Basically, I wanted to find a way to marry my passions—live sports and fantasy sports,” explains Nic Sulsky, InGamer’s Co-founder and CEO. “With regular fantasy sports, you play on a game-by-game or week-by-week basis. But once the actual game starts, there’s nothing to do.” In the midst of pitching a fantasy gaming show to TSN in 2007, Sulsky realized that there had to be a better way. He enlisted the help of Simon de Boer, InGamer’s Co-founder and President, and started experimenting with new ways of playing. In less than three years, InGamer has gone from the brainchild of a veteran film/television producer and sports media personality (Sulsky) and a technology developer (de Boer) to a full-blown fantasy sports system that made its soft launch just in time for Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010. The robust, detailed and real-time information feeds that power InGamer only became available within the last two years.
The future is wide open for InGamer. For now, it’s a fantasy sports system; but it’s really an event-centric social gaming system that could be used for anything from the Oscars to the Olympics. Building InGamer hasn’t always been easy, but Sulsky says that being driven by his love of the game helped him along more than anything. “You have to be motivated by love to build a successful business,” he says. “You’ve got to believe, more than anyone else. If you can do that, all the hard work will pay off.” Learn more about InGamer experiences at www.ingamerfantasy.com.
MaRS Volunteer Advisors
Debbie Baxter Know the industry— and who your customer is
Cam Bradley Do good work and make a difference
MaRS volunteer advisor Debbie Baxter knows what it’s like to be looking for answers—and that’s why she tries to make it as easy as possible for entrepreneurs to access the information and advice they need. “I’ve been in that place: the entrepreneurial chair,” she says. “I try to provide advice that’s helpful to entrepreneurs at the stage that they’re at.” With experience in technology start-ups, retail, finance, big companies, small companies and now as the Chief Sustainability Officer at LoyaltyOne, Baxter can provide advice on sales practices, business development, pitching and more. In fact, she’s usually one of the first faces that MaRS clients meet. “I don’t have the depth of experience in one particular area that many other advisors may have,” she says. “But I do know about a lot of different areas. I think the breadth of my experience helps me help entrepreneurs think about their businesses in new ways.” Once a client has developed a firm footing and thought about how they’d like to build their business, Baxter helps connect them with other MaRS advisors who can help them in specific areas. But before Baxter sends them off, she often finds herself sharing two important pieces of advice: research the state of your industry and know who your customer is. “You can have the best product in the world, but you have to know who is going to pay for it,” she says. In March 2010, Baxter shared more sales advice at a MaRS Best Practices session called “Effective Sales and Business Development.” Prior to joining LoyaltyOne, Baxter was Chief Operating Officer at Green Rewards, an eco-conscious loyalty business. In the past, she led a consulting team at Oracle and was president of an emerging technology firm in the trade show market—her career has been built on creating relationships and watching for new opportunities. And now, she’s taking the opportunity to help entrepreneurs at MaRS. “Advising at MaRS is extremely satisfying,” says Baxter. “It’s so rewarding to share my knowledge and experience with entrepreneurs. Sometimes, they just need to hear a different perspective…or approach an issue from a different place.” By providing that different perspective, Baxter can be one of the people who helps get a new business off to a great start—and that’s what MaRS is all about.
For MaRS volunteer advisor Cam Bradley, hearing the enthusiasm in clients’ voices is one of the things that drives his desire to help them. “New ventures rarely suffer from a lack of ideas,” he says. “It’s great to see that the people behind the ventures are so passionate and so excited.” Bradley’s role in helping companies usually starts with a directive to focus. “When entrepreneurs are starting new ventures, they often take a shotgun approach: ‘We can make a website! We can do emails! We can call people! We can build things! I tend to help companies understand what choices they have to make to help push their ideas into reality.” With a career that’s spanned marketing, digital strategy and business development, Bradley is well placed to help clients in MaRS’ information technology, communications and entertainment practice get off the ground. As Group Account Director at interactive digital marketing agency Digital Cement, Bradley owns account relationships— which means that he’s used to collaborating with clients, companies and his own co-workers, an attitude he brings to his work at MaRS. “Advising is a collaborative exercise. It’s important that the companies I work with see me as part of the team and not just someone who is mandating what they must do,” he says. Bradley’s advising philosophy is influenced by two pieces of advice he received early in his own career: do good work and make sure you’re making a difference. Bradley knows that this sounds like kindergarten-level advice—but it’s really just a back-to-basics approach to business. Making a difference is one of the most important aspects of the volunteer advisor program at MaRS; it’s important that clients see the benefits of working with advisors in order to get the most out of the relationship. Working with advisors isn’t always easy for clients. “I take a toughlove approach sometimes, but I think it’s important that entrepreneurs realize there could be a lot of hard work ahead. I think they appreciate the honesty,” says Bradley. “I also think entrepreneurs are incredibly lucky to have access to the breadth and depth of advisors at MaRS, plus industry contacts, access to networks and, put simply, different perspectives.” By working together—another key piece of kindergarten advice—MaRS advisors like Bradley help companies identify their strengths, capitalize on them and build better businesses.
See a list of full-time advisors at www.marsdd.com/working-with-mars.html
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MaRS Social Impact
Communications 101 Savvy storytelling trumps technological wizardry By Lisa Torjman
When it comes to new media it’s important to get beyond the buzz. The Internet has brought us a new communications paradigm for the 21st century. To early adopters, the domain of “www” is a cinch; but to others, it can be decidedly perplexing. Some would say we suffer from perpetual information overload, an overwhelming stasis. However, paralysis—a common response to feeling overwhelmed—should not be the answer. Nor should sticking your head in the sand. The web has transformed communications. For the first time, there exists a mass channel that is decentralized, fragmented, selfdistributed and highly specialized; it is “the people’s channel.” Never before has a technological communications medium done more than just broadcast. More than a means to relay a message, the web is a platform upon which to network, collaborate and co-create. But the biggest mistake is to get caught up in the medium. The trick to being an effective communicator has more to do with being a savvy storyteller than it does with possessing technological wizardry. The stronger the narrative, the more likely the message—and, moreover, the brand—will surface among the din. The new paradigm has dramatically altered our expectations of those creating the messages—corporate brands and public services alike. By opening up the channels to more voices, information has become democratized. Coupled with the ability to call up information in an instant, we expect a greater transparency on behalf of those communicating to us. Strategic communications in the 21st century is just as much about age-old tricks as it is about new technologies. It is certainly exciting that entire communication campaigns can be administered at little to no cost and still yield tremendous results. In an increasingly accelerated environment, the challenge will be striking the balance between effectiveness and haste. Effective communication was one of many topics addressed at Net Change Week 2010, along with integrating new strategies and new platforms, such as mobile and emerging tech. Check it all out–and get connected–at www.netchangeweek.ca
Whitepaper series defines social innovation landscape Social entrepreneurs face many challenges when launching their ventures. Those incorporated as for-profits struggle to secure capital from investors that don’t fully understand “blended value” motivations. Non-profit social ventures face restrictions on the type of funding they can secure, the use of those funds and the types of enterprising activities they can undertake to generate revenue. Helping social entrepreneurs, decision makers and other stakeholders understand the ecosystem they operate in is an important first step to supporting social innovation in Canada. At the same time, thought leaders and social innovation champions are required to lead the transformation of this ecosystem from one that restricts social innovation to one that encourages it. Our series of social entrepreneurship whitepapers is a tool that can support both of these aims. Each whitepaper documents the current state of one aspect of the social innovation ecosystem (social venture financing, organizational legal structures and measuring social impact) and, when appropriate, offers suggestions for possible enhancements to create a more enabling environment. The goal is to provide social innovators a resource to better understand the social innovation landscape and how their initiative fits within it. These papers can also be a catalyst for new and deeper debates on the most pressing issues facing social entrepreneurs. The SiG@MaRS report series can be found at www.marsdd.com/ buzz/reports.
Impact investing: Rockefeller Foundation connects with MaRS The Rockefeller Foundation is spearheading an initiative to catalyze a new form of finance: impact investing, the proactive placement of capital for social and financial benefit. It’s also promoting new tools on social impact metrics that will allow investors to track their social and environmental returns in addition to their financial returns. Both approaches are of great interest to Social Innovation Generation at MaRS (SiG@MaRS). At the helm of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Impact Investing and Innovation Initiatives is Antony Bugg-Levine, a man fundamentally driven by a need to solve social challenges and eradicate poverty. Bugg-Levine spoke at MaRS in April 2010 on “Impact Investing: A global perspective on an emerging market.” He explained how for-profit investment can be used to solve environmental and social problems. A major stumbling block in the impact investing world, however, is a lack of intermediaries—organizations that bridge the gap between the demand for and supply of capital. One of the most promising intermediary bodies developing right now in Canada is the Social Venture Exchange (SVX). Its goal is to expand the capital available to enterprising non-profits and social purpose businesses. To learn more about impact investing and the SVX, visit www.socialfinance.ca and www.socialventureexchange.org.
Lisa Torjman is a SiG@MaRS Associate. She led the programming and planning team for Net Change Week.
Expanding Canada’s capacity for innovation By The Honourable John Manley, P.C., O.C.
If innovation means doing new things, or doing things in new ways, why does the current debate about the need to improve Canada’s capacity for innovation feel and sound like déjà vu? In truth, we have been talking about this problem for an awfully long time, with not much to show for it. As federal Industry Minister in the 1990s, I often expressed concern about Canada’s lagging competitiveness and tendency to hide behind a low dollar, rather than investing in research and productivity-enhancing technology. For my sins, I was once depicted in an editorial cartoon as a petulant Bart Simpson, forced to write 200 times on the blackboard, “I will not trash-talk corporate Canada!” For a few short years in the late 1990s, Canada’s productivity performance did pick up. Since then, however, the trend has been heading in the wrong direction. Between 2000 and 2010, Canada’s labour productivity growth averaged just 0.7 per cent a year. That’s well short of the US pace and half the rate recorded in Canada over the previous two decades–an “abysmal” performance, as Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney put it recently. What’s going on and what can be done to improve the situation? How can we close the innovation gap between Canada and other leading industrialized countries, the United States in particular? Last October, as I was preparing to assume my new duties as President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), I took part in a national multi-sector roundtable on innovation hosted by Rx&D, representing Canada’s research-based pharmaceutical companies. We took as our starting point the 2009 report of the Council of Canadian Academies’ Expert Panel on Business Innovation, which concluded that the persistent weakness of productivity growth in Canada is actually a business innovation problem. In other words, too many companies and entrepreneurs adopt business strategies that place little emphasis on innovation.
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Granted, at the level of the individual firm, those business strategy choices might make sense. Business owners and managers tend to respond to market signals and incentives. Perhaps the firm operates in a sector that engages in little in-house innovation, or one in which the level of competition is low. Perhaps the climate for innovation—which takes into account factors such as the availability of financing, the supply of qualified employees and government policies in the areas of taxation, regulation, foreign investment and procurement—is less than favourable. But regardless of whether individual companies are (or believe they are) acting rationally, the fact remains that Canada’s weak overall innovation performance undermines our country’s international competitiveness and therefore threatens our standard of living. Particularly given the demographic pressures of an aging population and the rapid restructuring of the global economy, it is essential that we find ways to improve our productivity. In the words of Governor Carney: “Our ambitions for the Canadian economy should be bold.” Fortunately, last fall’s Rx&D roundtable demonstrated that there is strong support within the private sector and the academic community for the shared objective of making Canada a global leader in innovation. Seeking to turn that vision into reality, those of us who participated in the roundtable are now forging a “Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada,” co-chaired by myself and Paul Lucas, President and Chief Executive Officer of GlaxoSmithKline Inc. The purpose of the coalition is to build consensus across a broad range of stakeholders nationwide, bringing together as many influential voices as possible behind a focused and achievable agenda for action. We will not be creating a formal structure, but we are assembling multi-sector teams of business and academic leaders with relevant interest and expertise to work on the main elements of our
Once depicted in an editorial cartoon as a “petulant Bart Simpson,” the Hon. John Manley now leads the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and is Vice Chair of the Board at MaRS. innovation agenda. Each team will then develop an action plan with goals, assigned leadership and a timeline. At this point, we have identified seven key components of a strategic plan to strengthen Canada’s innovation capacity and performance: • Aligning tax incentives to support R&D and innovation; • Facilitating and nurturing the commercial success of start-up companies; • Enhancing relationships and linkages between the business community and academia; • Building the innovation talent pool;
In many respects, Canada is well positioned to prosper in the global economy. We performed comparatively well during the recent downturn, our financial system is among the world’s healthiest, our standards of governance are high and our tax rates look increasingly attractive compared to those of our major trading partners. Strategically, we have the good fortune of being a major exporter of energy and other commodities in an era of rapid demand growth from major emerging economies. But in today’s world, that is not enough. To achieve our full potential—to create jobs and opportunity in an increasingly competitive economic environment—we must significantly expand our capacity to innovate. It’s time for us to turn ideas into action.
• Re-shaping government policy to support innovation; • Creating, nurturing and promoting innovation clusters; and • Establishing effective advocacy organizations for innovation. In each of these seven categories, we plan to draw up a list of priority recommendations. Our advice will be directed at both the public and private sectors, but we recognize that the capacity of governments to do more is severely limited by the large fiscal overhang left by the recent recession. As a result, we intend to focus particular attention on what needs to change in the private sector and on how to maximize the contributions of Canada’s academic institutions to our national economic success.
The Honourable John Manley, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He has been on the Board of Directors at MaRS since 2005 and is currently Vice Chair. Readers who wish to participate in or contribute to the work of the Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada are asked to contact Bruce Good, Vice President, Stakeholders and Partnerships, at Rx&D (email@example.com).
Biotech shopping in Canada Toronto and Vancouver join forces By Dr. Raphael Hofstein, President and CEO, MaRS Innovation
What happens when you compound Canada’s primary mind-to-market health innovation pipeline with Canada’s top drug development centre—when their common mandate is to bridge Canada’s well-documented gap between early science and mature project development? You get a powerful chemical reaction, attractive offerings for industry and investors and, ultimately, a pan-Canadian advantage in global health biotechnology. Through a first-in-class collaborative agreement, MaRS Innovation in Toronto, Ontario, and the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) in Vancouver, British Columbia, are ratcheting up their service offerings in the global race to translate drug discovery into robust business. Our two regions are already Canada’s two largest biotechnology business and research sectors, and in the top ten in North America. MaRS Innovation and CDRD know that our deep baseline world-class research assets— our universities and health centres—have been challenged to create value for our industry partners, for our investors, and for our citizens and economy both nationally and globally. Better business-universitygovernment partnerships and policies, on an industry-responsive timeline, are critical—and that is where MaRS Innovation and CDRD enter the pipeline. MaRS Innovation and CDRD capture a total of $1.4 billion (more than 50 per cent of research grants awarded nationally) in direct public investment in health-related research across the Greater Toronto Area and western Canada. This situation gives our two organizations a starting point for mature product development. Strategic partners of our two world-class regions
are also leveraging this government endorsement at the initial discovery stage.
and services together with their value propositions, powered by:
In order to bind discovery to productivity, however, MaRS Innovation and CDRD have determined that each organization can fill a structural gap for the other on select projects. We are squarely focused on completing costly pre-clinical drug development, which industry needs to see before it invests in further development.
• Our combined deal flow, which gives us both the crown of biotech possibilities and the probability of isolating the jewels.
MaRS Innovation has phenomenal deal flow, with close to 200 unencumbered technologies from our 14 university and hospital academic partners in 2009–2010 alone. We are now shunting the highestpotential projects through the early stages of our commercialization pipeline. CDRD, whose mandate is to advance projects with commercial potential, already works with major health science institutions, successfully leverages innovation and grant funding, and has extensive drug development facilities that are unparalleled across the country. Our first collaboration is demonstrating the point. Neuroscientist Dr. Paul Fraser (University of Toronto/MaRS Innovation) and diabetes specialist Dr. Bruce Verchere (University of British Columbia/CDRD) are investigating whether Fraser’s novel drug therapy, which targets the aggregation of amyloid—a protein implicated in disease progression—can be applied to treat diabetes, which affects 300 million people worldwide. With this project collaboration well underway, it represents a commercialization opportunity for MaRS Innovation and CDRD. Our points of convergence are our points of distinction. MaRS Innovation and CDRD will centralize and package novel products
MaRS Innovation is a member-driven partnership involving:
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• Our capacity to aggregate single innovations into business bundles, while also identifying additional, thirdparty federal and provincial funding for our cross-disciplinary investigators across the MaRS Innovation and CDRD discovery channels. • Our combined $30 million in support over five years from the federal Centres of Excellence for Commercialization of Research (CECRs) program. In total, MaRS Innovation has raised $25 million from federal sources and partner institution support, while CDRD has successfully leveraged investments from federal, provincial and industry sources to raise approximately $74 million. From centres of excellence that nurture established biotechnology scientists and train the next generations of qualified personnel in high-value jobs, to a vision of productivity growth that we share with industry, MaRS Innovation and CDRD are overcoming a major hurdle in businessuniversity-government partnerships, and thereby proving our ventures’ value to capital investors and industry globally. Dr. Rafi Hofstein joined MaRS Innovation as its President and CEO in June 2009. He was previously the President and CEO of Hadasit Ltd., the technology transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, and has served as Chair of Hadasit Bio-Holdings Ltd. since 2005.
Dr. Jeff Wrana, Senior Investigator, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital
2010 Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research Pushing the frontiers of personalized medicine
Dr. Janet Rossant, Senior Scientist & Chief of Research, The Hospital for Sick Children
The Premier’s Summit Award for Medical Research recognizes Ontario’s best medical researchers. Each year, a small group of outstanding scientists compete for one of Canada’s richest scientific prizes: with a value of $5 million per recipient, the Premier’s Summit Award aims to help attract and retain top researchers while providing the winners with opportunities to significantly expand their research programs. Each winning researcher has made a substantial and distinguished contribution to medical science—and shows promise to do even more. In May, the 2010 Premier’s Summit Award was presented to two outstanding Toronto scientists: Dr. Janet Rossant at The Hospital for Sick Children and Dr. Jeffrey Wrana at Mount Sinai Hospital. Pushing the frontiers of personalized medicine, these researchers are unravelling the molecular mysteries of cancer and stem cell biology in order to improve diagnosis, treatment and, ultimately, prevention of disease. Dr. Janet Rossant is a Senior Scientist and Chief of Research at the The Hospital for Sick Children. She is also Professor in the Departments of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Obstetrics/Gynaecology and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Her research interests centre on understanding the genetic control of normal and abnormal development in the early mouse embryo, using both cellular and genetic manipulation techniques. Her interests in the early embryo have led to the discovery of a novel placental stem cell type, the trophoblast stem cell. She is Deputy Scientific Director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network and she directs the Centre for Modeling Human Disease in Toronto. Dr. Rossant trained at the Universities
of Oxford and Cambridge, United Kingdom and has been in Canada since 1977, first at Brock University and then at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, from 1985 to 2005. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada and a Distinguished Investigator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In 2007, Dr. Rossant was awarded the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology and the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology. In 2008, Dr. Rossant was elected as a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Science. Dr. Jeffrey Wrana is a Senior Investigator and the Mary Janigan Research Chair in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. An International Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, Dr. Wrana holds a Canada Research Chair in Systems Biology and was elected a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Wrana has played an instrumental role in advancing scientists’ understanding of tumour growth suppression through his research on a family of proteins known as TGFbeta and its role in the cancerous process. Through his exploration of the molecular basis of metastases and the interactions of human proteins, he has made significant discoveries related to colorectal, breast and other cancers. Dr. Wrana also pioneered the development of a leading-edge robotics facility at the Lunenfeld, which allows researchers to analyze the function of thousands of genes at a time and rapidly identify the 21 properties and processes important in human diseases. Dr. Wrana aims to apply these tools to identify new therapeutic targets and strategies to combat cancer and other complex diseases.
Geoff Matus: People drive Canada’s knowledge economy Growing up in South Africa, Geoffrey Matus never imagined that he’d find himself on the board of one of the world’s leading innovation centres. But in August 2007, that’s exactly what happened: Matus joined MaRS’ Board of Directors and became involved in building Ontario’s knowledge-based economy. “When I sit around that board table, I just pinch myself,” says Matus. “And wonder: What is a kid from a tiny mining town in South Africa doing here at the table with these amazing people?’ ” Matus’ roots may lie in small town South Africa, but he’s no stranger to big city entrepreneurship. After attending law school at Columbia University and working with Citibank in New York, he went on to spend the next 25 years building businesses and working with entrepreneurs in Canada to improve their performance. According to Matus, entrepreneurship is the key to building Canada’s knowledge-based economy—a view that he and MaRS have in common. “Toronto, Ontario and Canada need to develop a knowledge-based
Building a technology ecosystem where there was none before One of the largest hurdles that first-time entrepreneurs face is finding out where they can get advice about building their businesses—so says John Ruffolo, Global Managing Partner for Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry at Deloitte. He’s seen too many start-ups fail because they simply don’t know what kind of help is out there: “Without the support of organizations like MaRS, too many young companies are going at it alone—and that, unfortunately, often leads to their demise. Deloitte supports MaRS because, with its help, entrepreneurs have a better chance of surviving and flourishing.” Deloitte’s support of MaRS’ educational programming relates to its goals in identifying the early-stage companies that will be the leaders of tomorrow. “In our technology, media and telecommunications practice at Deloitte, we look at the ecosystem of technology companies—from two-person operations to multinational companies. One of our challenges has always been in finding these early-stage companies,” says Ruffolo. “MaRS is aggregating a lot of start-up companies in one place and we’re able to tap into that.”
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economy to improve, or at the very least, maintain our standard of living,” he says. “MaRS is doing so much to develop innovative companies. In these very tough times, if we can do something to foster a new dynamic and large knowledge-based industry, we should do it. It’s absolutely crucial to the future of our country. If we succeed, we will leave a great legacy for our children.” After a quarter century of building businesses, Matus knows that a knowledge-based economy can’t grow overnight. It will take time to build, but Matus believes that Ontario is on the right track: MaRS is helping to bring good people together to create sustainable, scalable businesses that draw on Canadian science, technology and social innovation. Good people are crucial to good companies, says Matus. “If you have a great balance sheet and good people, your company should succeed. If you have a terrible balance sheet and good people, you’ll probably succeed. But if you have a great balance sheet and bad people, the company will fail,” he says. Matus is a member of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto and a board member of the Canadian Opera Company. In 2007, he was appointed an honorary director of Baycrest where he was a past chair of the board. He is also a past board member of Mount Sinai Hospital. In 2005, Matus was a recipient of the Jewish Federation Award for outstanding service to the community. By supporting MaRS, Matus believes he is supporting a new and different way of doing business—one that will change Ontario’s economy for the better. Fittingly, MaRS’ vision of doing business dovetails with his. Matus’ advice to his business colleagues: “Be bold. Don’t just follow. People talk about following what’s in textbooks, but I tell them: If you do that, you’ll be just like everyone else. Ask yourself: How can I be better than the best? You can’t do things the way they’ve always been done and hope to succeed.”
According to Ruffolo, MaRS has helped to create this ecosystem where there wasn’t one before. “Our support of MaRS has been like a one plus one equals three situation: we help MaRS, MaRS helps companies and the entire technology ecosystem is better off for it. MaRS is unique in Toronto—until it opened, there hadn’t been a focal point for start-ups in Toronto. Now MaRS is known throughout the GTA, Ontario and around the world as a global address for entrepreneurship.” Deloitte has supported two important components of MaRS’ educational programming: the Cleantech in Canada seminar series, co-produced with Ogilvy Renault, and, Harry Rosen’s “Lived It” lecture at Entrepreneurship 101 (see page 5). Cleantech in Canada, now in its third year, brings investors, innovators and entrepreneurs together to explore topics in clean technologies. It’s a successful formula, says Ruffolo. “The audience hears from industry experts. The experts have an open forum to share their knowledge and we, as sponsors, build business relationships with every event. It really is an all-around winning situation.” By bringing companies, advisors, experts, infrastructure and research together, MaRS is an important player in building the Canadian knowledge-based economy. For Deloitte, supporting MaRS means supporting the development of Canadian companies right from the start.
CONVERGENCE CLUB 2009/2010 MaRS gratefully acknowledges the support of our donors.
• • • •
• • • • • • • • •
CIBC The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation The Henry White Kinnear Foundation Wilf and Anne Lewitt
$50,000 + • Richard and Donna Ivey Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation • Ogilvy Renault LLP
$25,000-$49,999 • • • • • • • •
Avie Bennett Canaccord Genuity Deloitte. John and Gay Evans Hill & Knowlton Canada Geoff and Jill Matus Gordon and Janet Nixon St. Joseph Communications
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association Richard M. Ivey The Mastercard Foundation Nucro-Technics Incorporated Joseph and Sandra Rotman SAP Canada Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation TAL Group Anonymous (1)
$2,500-$4,999 • • • • • • •
Corealis Pharma Peter and Carolyn Evans Hon. John P. Manley Wendy and Chris McDowall NoAb BioDiscoveries PepsiCo Canada Sheila O’Brien
$500-$2,499 $10,000-$24,999 • • • • • • • •
AstraZeneca Canada Inc. cm3 Alison Fisher Gowlings Gerald Heffernan, O.C., BaSc. The Hurley Group Miller Thomson LLP Ilse Treurnicht
• CanCog Technologies Inc. • Jack Rabinovitch • Stikeman Elliott LLP
Additional funding generously provided by
M Bu aRS
Ne ild Gr xt ing ow Ge O th ne nta Co ra rio m tio ’s pa n ni of es
Charitable Registration Number: 876682717—RR0001 MaRS Discovery District / MaRS Centre, South Tower / 101 College Street, Suite 100 / Toronto ON / M5G 1L7
Published on Jun 1, 2010
MaRS news, projects and priorities. Published twice a year. This issue includes: MaRS client light up Vancouver Olympics, Green energy engag...