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TORONTO, ON (May 2, 2014) – MaRS Innovation congratulates the government’s deepened commitment to support the life sciences through research and innovation funding. In particular, the new $30 million Life Sciences Seed Venture Capital Fund will create a partnership between the Province of Ontario, the private sector and hospital foundations to finance Ontario-based life sciences companies.

Dr. Raphael Hofstein
Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president & CEO, MaRS Innovation.

“As co-designers of this venture capital fund and one of its many champions, MaRS Innovation welcomes this news,” says Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein, president and CEO. “We look forward to the strong collaborations it will foster with our colleagues in the Government of Ontario, private industry and the hospital community.”

“By their nature and the need for regulation, life sciences companies take considerable time to mature products and their underlying technologies. Expanding the funding available during this critical stage through this unique public-private partnership will give more Ontario start-ups emerging with disruptive technologies from the province’s academic institutions the financing they need to succeed and thrive,” says Hofstein.

The venture capital fund is part of the province’s 10-year economic plan, which is described in the 2014 Ontario Budget as “focused on investing in people, building modern infrastructure, and supporting a dynamic and innovative business climate.”

The commercialization process: Moving transformational ideas from the lab bench to the street
MaRS Innovation’s high-touch commercialization model brings technologies from its 16 member institutions to market through embedded management, product development, very early-stage investing and industry partnerships.

Other promising commitments include $250 million over three years to invest in research infrastructure through the Ontario Research Fund (ORF), which will help strengthen the capacity for health research in Ontario. Research funding at all stages is essential to maintaining the creation and growth of technologies that add to Ontario’s economic development while delivering improved social benefits for people in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.

“This early-stage venture capital fund will act as a critical financial bridge between the discovery-stage academic research the ORF supports and the venture capital required to propel a technology through advanced product development in healthcare,” says Hofstein. “Through its existence, we also anticipate a catalytic impact for job creation in the life sciences sector. Having access to this funding will help more Canadian scientists to grow their technology in their own country while creating highly qualified jobs for the next generation of biotechnology professionals.”

About MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation is the commercialization agent for Ontario’s exceptional discovery pipeline from 16 leading academic institutions. As a single-entry point to member-based activity of $1 billion in annual research and development, MI is a gateway for investors and licensees to access technology assets. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence, by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and by its 16 member institutions, MI is a transformational partnership that turns research strengths into commercial opportunities. MI’s portfolio includes the most promising assets from its members’ pipeline, which it advances into global markets through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation.

By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.

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