TORONTO (May 11, 2016) – Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC, today announced the opening of JLABS @ Toronto, a new 40,000-square-foot life sciences incubator, providing entrepreneurs shared lab space and…
Baycrest Heath Sciences’ “My Virtual Dream,” an innovative and interactive live performance experience at the intersection of science, art and music, is currently touring the installation with appearances in Amsterdam in May and more scheduled for Irvine, CA in October.
MaRS Innovation is working with the Baycrest team to commercialize the technology behind the demonstration, known as the virtual brain.
“The Virtual Dream tour is a ‘living lab’ that engages the public, fuels science, creates art and educates while it entertains,” says Richard Tavener, executive producer of the Virtual Dream tour.
The exhibition and research project was originally mounted in partnership with the University of Toronto, Nuit Blanche 2013, and InteraXon and also made a January 2015 appearance at the Ontario Science Centre.
Participants wear the Muse, a brain-computer interface headset provided by InteraXon, and use focus and mental relaxation states to complete a science game and create a stunning array of visuals and music.
The brain data collected at Nuit Blanche has yielded insights about how the brain learns and a science paper about this massive, one-night neuroscience experiment. The paper, which appeared in the July issue of PLOS One, found that:
MaRS Innovation and its member institutions are is profiled in International Innovation‘s July issue (#191) in a feature interview with Dr. Rafi Hofstein, MI’s president and CEO, written by Rosemary Peters.
The article is posted on the publication’s website and viewable through a digital interface (pages 80 and 81).
Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Hofstein’s comments:
“Canada’s academic research community is internationally highly competitive, but it has been argued that its scientific commercial success tags behind other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. While this remains a matter of debate, I do agree that we need to continually encourage additional sources of seed capital to join is so as to allow for accelerated advancement of early-stage technologies. Industry needs to become much more engaged in advancing early-stage (and promising!) technologies emerging from the academic sector, which are usually young and in significant attention, navigation, management expertise and seed capital provisions. These are areas of rising importance in Canada, as many innovations fall into the ‘valley of death’ due to a lack of proper funding, or they leave the country and flourish in the U.S. where funding is more abundant.
Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published a guest column by Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation’s president & CEO, and Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.
The article explores the way research focused on discovery and commercialization are often viewed or positioned as competitors within the funding ecosystem and the need to align their goals:
The time of Canada’s French and English solitudes may be past, as Governor General Michaëlle Jean notably stated when she took office in 2005, but the solitudes of thought concerning how Canada supports basic and commercial research persist.
This thinking is most easily spotted after the government announces a federal budget, triggering a flurry of opinion pieces debating the breakdown for the $2.7 billion Canada spends on research.
Most recently, Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry Ltd.), wrote for the Globe & Mail about the Canadian need to understand that “geopolitics is at the heart of commercializing ideas,” and create better policies to protect Canadian ideas, including “better
incentives for researchers to spur commercialization,” such as during an academic’s consideration for tenure. Yet, like any business endeavor whose success depends on people, there’s more involved in changing Canada’s approach to commercialization than just policy.
The people must want to change, too.
TORONTO, ON (April 23, 2014) — MaRS Innovation congratulates the Federal Government’s deepened commitment to support Canadian research and innovation, particularly in the healthcare sector. In particular, the $42 million over five years dedicated to support the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest Health Sciences, which includes $32 million in support from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev).
Baycrest is a founding member institution of MaRS Innovation.
“As a Baycrest partner and long-time champions of the commercialization potential of its world-class science in brain and geriatric health care, MaRS Innovation welcomes this news,” says Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein, president and CEO. “We look forward to advancing existing neuroscience projects in partnership with Baycrest, such as The Virtual Brain, and to collaborating on new start-up companies and licenses related to dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.”
Other promising budget allocations for the innovation sector include:
TORONTO, ON (April 23, 2015) — Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) applauds the government’s continued commitment to supporting life sciences through the Ontario Health Innovation Council and its accompanying $20 million innovation fund, programs to support job creation for Ontario’s highly educated young workforce and a new approach to providing the venture capital needed to support the commercialization of technologies and growth of companies in the life sciences sector.
Specifically, LSO notes the following commitments from the 2015 budget that will help drive innovation in Ontario:
- Endorsing the Ontario Health Innovation Council report, which will establish a $20 million Health Technology Innovation Fund and appoint a chief innovation strategist to act on the report’s recommendations.
- Funding the TalentEdge Program, which provides internships for graduate and postgraduate students and is integral to boosting campus-linked industrial research while developing and commercializing the innovative ideas of young researchers.
- Committing $23.5 million over five years to help establish the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation Centre at Baycrest Health Sciences, a world leader in cognitive neuroscience, and $25 million over five years to support the recently established Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM).
MaRS Innovation is a My Virtual Dream event sponsor and commercialization partner
Toronto, ON (January 12, 2015) – Baycrest Health Sciences’ dazzling brain science exhibit from 2013 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche will be on show at the Ontario Science Centre’s BRAINFest, Jan. 17-18.
My Virtual Dream is an innovative and interactive live performance experience at the intersection of science, art and music. The installation will enable participants to use their brain waves to communicate with each other through an immersive audio and visual expression that will be projected onto video screens.
“Participating at BRAINFest is a great way to share Baycrest’s renowned strengths in cognitive neuroscience in a highly artistic and interactive way with the public,” says Dr. Randy McIntosh, vice-president of Research and Director of Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. “Baycrest wishes to thank the Ontario Brain Institute for bringing My Virtual Dream into the Ontario Science Centre and to MaRS Innovation as our key collaborative partner.”
The concept for My Virtual Dream is inspired by an ongoing international project led by Dr. McIntosh and the Rotman to build a virtual, functional brain – a research and diagnostic tool that could one day revolutionize brain healthcare.
The installation, created by Baycrest and the University of Toronto for Nuit Blanche 2013, was a huge hit with fans of the festival. It also represented an extraordinary neuroscience experiment that explored how people can collectively synchronize their brain waves to co-create a multi-sensory environment that merges art, science and technology. In a single night, Rotman researchers collected brain data from over 500 people who signed on to be research subjects.
This op-ed on Canadian biotechnology and the knowledge economy appeared in The Hill-Times (subscription required), Canada’s politics and government newsweekly, September 9:
Obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or the more general stresses of an aging population: no matter which area of concern holds our collective gaze from moment to moment, improving health outcomes and healthcare is the No. 1 challenge for the world’s economy.
Canada has the holistic approach and translational research necessary to address health care’s pervasive challenges, with particular strengths in biotechnology.
In 2007, the Government of Canada made advancing translational research a top priority through the Science and Technology Strategy, with emphasis on cancer, metabolic disorders and, most recently, neurology, as part of the government’s response to the burdensome realities of neurodegenerative disorders.
Scientific research has made significant progress in unraveling the underlying causes of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but translating these findings into useful clinical treatments is the key to attaining meaningful accomplishments. Only clinical treatment successes will alleviate pressure on the economy.
Transformational research is the essential first step in this process, but even more importantly, it needs to be put in the hands of those who can translate it into realistic and useful outcomes for patients in particular and society in general.
Thanks to research analytics that capture publications, citations, and other significant metrics, we know Canadian researchers punch above their weight, particularly in medical research. Canada’s challenge is not the quality or quantity of our research ideas but our ability to commercialize those ideas and translate them into market-ready products.
Aware of and concerned by this gap between fundamental basic research and useful patient, social, and economic outcomes, the Canadian government established the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program in 2007. Part of the internationally-recognized Networks of Centres of Excellence suite of programs, the CECR program is a unique collaboration between the three federal granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), along with Industry Canada, and Health Canada.
Designed to bridge the challenging gap between innovation and commercialization, the CECR program matches clusters of research expertise with the business community to share the knowledge and resources that bring innovations to market faster.
MaRS Innovation was among the first CECRs to be created in 2008, largely based on the founding belief of its members that Toronto is a fertile research land for precisely this kind of translational activity.
Every six weeks, MaRS Innovation’s marketing and communications manager writes a guest post for the MaRS Discovery District blog profiling MI’s activities or one of our start-up companies. You can read the original post on the MaRS blog.
By offering early-stage funding in tandem with hands-on management, business development, mentorship and intellectual property protection strategy, MI acts as a commercialization agent for its members and researchers.
Earlier this year, the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada awarded MI $14.95 million to continue its mandate as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR), matched by $25 million from membership fees and private sector investments.
So what does that success mean for MI’s ability to serve the needs of academic entrepreneurs based in Toronto?
Networks of Centres of Excellence recognizes strength of partnership between MI and its 16 member institutions
MaRS Innovation (MI), created in 2008, bridges the chasm between these early-stage technologies and successful start-up companies and licensable technologies. By offering early-stage funding in tandem with hands-on management, mentorship and IP strategy protection, MI acts as a commercialization agent for its 16 member institutions.
The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) has recognized the increasing strength of this novel partnership by awarding MI $14.95 million in funding through the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program.