MaRS Discovery District
|Founded||May 31, 2000|
|Focus||Technology transfer, commercialization|
|Method||Consultancy, market research, venture capital|
|Key people||Ilse Treurnicht, CEO|
MaRS Discovery District is a not-for-profit corporation founded in Toronto in 2000. Its stated goal is to commercialize publicly funded medical research and other technologies with the help of local private enterprises and as such is a public-private partnership. As part of its mission MaRS says, "MaRS helps create successful global businesses from Canada’s science, technology and social innovation."
The name MaRS was originally drawn from a file name, and later attributed with the title “Medical and Related Sciences.” It has since abandoned this association as it also works in other fields such as Information and Communications Technology, Engineering, and Social Innovation,
It is located on the corner of College Street and University Avenue in the city of Toronto’s Discovery District, adjacent to the University of Toronto and its affiliated research hospitals at the University Health Network.
The MaRS development consists of two phases.
MaRS Discovery District Phase I was designed by Adamson Associates Architects and includes:
- The Heritage Building (formerly a wing of the Toronto General Hospital),
- The Atrium
- The South Tower
- The Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
The Heritage Building
Inside the Heritage Building's four-storey brick façade (preserved) are tenant spaces occupied by professional services, industry associations, pharmaceutical companies and offices of Canadian universities and the Province of Ontario. In 2006, the MaRS Centre received the Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence for Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship.
The MaRS atrium is a glass-roofed public thoroughfare that provides walkway access to Heritage Building tenants and retail vendors, as well as access to the South and Medical Discovery Towers. Its bottom level features a sub-dividable conference area that hosts public and private events. MaRS encourages events from across Toronto's arts, culture and broader urban community. The Atrium's lower level also features media centre, videoconferening rooms and a public food court.
The South Tower
This 8-storey structure houses incubator programs and shared laboratory and research facilities. The 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2), wet-lab-capable building spans eight floors in the MaRS Centre. The tower boasts advanced mechanical and electrical systems, floors with enhanced load bearing capabilities and 15-foot (4.6 m) slab-to-slab clearances.
Occupying the second and third floors of the South Tower—directly above the MaRS corporate offices, is the MaRS Incubator – a dedicated space that houses offices and laboratories for approximately two dozen life science and technology firms.
Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
With 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) of state-of-the-art wet labs, the 15-storey Toronto Medical Discovery Tower accommodates leading-edge scientific equipment and houses the basic research activities of two of Canada's premier research hospitals: the University Health Network and the Hospital for Sick Children.
Situated on the corner of College and Elizabeth Street, the building was designed with typical research and development lab floors configured with a side core arrangement and sheathed in metal and glass. The tower portions rest on a three-storey limestone podium that aligns with the heights of the adjoining College Wing and the formal landscape forecourt that extends the full block.
The shell and core of the TMDT is designed to accommodate a full lab program based on 80% wet lab and 20% dry lab. The lab floors have been configured to maximize future flexibility. The mechanical and electrical rooms, power and communication distribution systems, general and special exhaust risers, floor drains and service zones, have been established to allow for fit-out by future tenants.
Phase I began operations in 2005.
Phase II, designed by Bregman + Hamann Architects, will constitute a 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) addition to the MaRS centre in the form of a 20-story tower on the complex’s west wing. Construction began in late 2007, and was scheduled to be completed in spring 2010. In November 2008, Phase II construction was put on hold due to the economic downturn. Construction resumed in July 2011, with a target completion date of Fall 2013.
In 2011, construction of Phase II restarted. Phase II construction is expected to complete in September 2013. Phase 2 of the project is facing criticism because the Government of Ontario provided a bailout for the organization which is facing difficulty leasing the floors. The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is calling for a full accounting of Mars Phase 2.
MaRS is supported, in part, by professional service organizations which offer their expertise as no cost through education and training, and advisory hours. These organizations also contribute monetarily to MaRS.
The current list of organizations include:
In April 2010, criticism of the $471,874 salary collected by MaRS CEO Ilse Treurnicht in 2008 was raised It also criticized Liberal government-led funding, lack of accountability and rigor in measuring results, claims of public-private partnerships and the absence of visible-minorities among MaRS's team of advisors.
Renewed criticism was published in 2011, pointing in particular to the $100,000 increase in salary of MaRS CEO, her $534,000 salary in 2010, and questioning the public and private funding of the phase 2 expansion. The Toronto Sun published articles on the topic as well, questioning the high compensation levels at the charitable trust institution.
Initiatives and affiliations
- The Toronto Discovery District
- California-Canada Strategic Innovation Partnership
- Social Innovation Generation (SiG)
- Creative Convergence Centres Project
- Premier’s Summit Awards
- Canadian Stem Cell Network
- Stockholm Science City
- Net Change Week
- "How did MaRS get started". Retrieved 29 December 2013.
- "Our mission, our vision | MaRS". Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- MaRS Selects Alexandria Real Estate Equities to Expand the MaRS Centre in the Discovery District of Toronto.. Accessed on: June 26, 2007.
- Toronto's MaRS project a step too far. By Garry Marr, Financial Post Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
- MaRS Centre Phase 2 Set for Completion in Fall 2013
- Bouitilier, Alex. "Ontario Tories call for clarity on MaRS costs". Toronto Star. TorStar Media. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
- Meet our supporters | MaRS Discovery District
- Boutin, Greg. “Troubling Facts about MaRS Discovery District.” URL: http://www.growthtimes.com/2010/04/troubling-facts-about-mars-discovery-district-part-1-of-4/. Accessed on: September 27, 2010.
- McDowell, Adam. “Discovering life at MaRS: Toronto’s premier innovation district" in "National Post" August 27, 2010. URL: http://www.nationalpost.com/Discovering+life+MaRS+Toronto+premier+innovation+district/3452631/story.html. Accessed on: September 27, 2010.
- Boutin, Greg. “CEO of MaRS got 22% raise (one month before Ontario wage freeze?), made $533K in 2010" in "Growth Times" August 3, 2011. URL: http://www.growthtimes.com/2011/08/ceo-of-mars-got-22-raise-one-month-before-ontario-wage-freeze-made-533k-in-2010/. Accessed on: August 5, 2011.
- Jenkins, Jonathan. “Salaries increase at MaRS Discovery District" in "The Toronto Sun" August 2, 2011. URL: http://www.torontosun.com/2011/08/02/salaries-increase-at-mars-discovery-district. Accessed on: August 5, 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to MaRS Discovery District.|
- Official website
- MaRS Entrepreneurs Toolkit
- Press Release for resumption of MaRS 'Phase 2' Expansion