Going to MaRS. *rocket emoji*
Fun fact: The rocket emoji is consistently one of my most frequently used emojis.
So as soon as I saw the description for the module to discuss an “innovation hub”, I thought my friend and colleague, Rachel. She currently works at the MaRS Discovery District. All summer she spoke about how incredible the vibe was at MaRS, and so I decided to dive a little deeper and discover all of the amazing things they have to offer.
MaRS focuses on three main sectors: Cleantech, health, and information and communications tech. They also have an overarching focus on social innovation that remains a part of everything that they do over at MaRS. (I’m always conflicted about whether to say “at MaRS” because it’s proper English, or “on MaRS” because the space reference is cute and funny). For those who fall under these sectors and meet a few other specifications, there are many things MaRS has to offer but for the purposes of this post, I’ve decided to highlight three:
First is Venture Services. Through it’s venture services, MaRS allows startups access to a network of potential investors, help with talent acquisition, targeted marketing and media exposure, expert mentorship, and more! If you or someone you know is interested in gaining access to this incredible support system, simply head over to the online application and apply for venture services. It’s a 3 step process (1. online application, 2. a discovery meeting, and 3. an engagement and growth phase) and the return is incredible, even if you’re not approved the first time — the engagement and growth phase of the application process is especially beneficial to all.
Next is Funding. Back when I used to be a part of Enactus Ryerson, we always followed a three pillar rule that we used to determine if a project had everything it needed to launch. The three pillars were education (or domain knowledge), resources, and funding. Domain knowledge and resources are easily accessible through various networks — but funding always seems to be the trickiest part when you’re a startup. MaRS has tons a funding programs and initiatives to help startups in their core sectors get off the ground and raise capital. Check them out here!
And finally, when you’re a new startup it can be difficult to find a space to operate out of. With raising rental fees in Toronto, many startups end up operating out of someone’s basement. As a MaRS approved startup, you gain access to the beautiful and spacious Facilities where there are offices and labs for use, as well as meeting and event space!
All in all, MaRS is an urban innovation hub which connects entrepreneurs to a multitude of resources — being the catalyst for success and commercialization for tons of startups. In addition, they also offer up their awesome building as a venue to external organizations. Recently, I found out the Ryerson University’s Connect I.T. Conference will be hosted at the MaRS Discovery District! Connect I.T. is Canada’s largest student run IT conference and I was privileged to actually be a part of the team last year. This year the theme is FinTech: The Future of Transactions, where the conference will explore how technology is disrupting the financial sector through keynote speakers, breakout sessions, a tech fair, panels, and even a case competition! So if you’re into technology and are also motivated to check out the MaRS Discovery District, kill two birds with one stone this January by attending Connect I.T.!
That’s it for this post… JAS OUT! *peace emoji*