Toronto's Biggest Tech Hub

The Pros and Cons of Toronto’s Tech Giant MaRS Discovery District

Toronto: Canada’s Tech Capital – MaRS Discovery District

The technological sector is a hub of invention and innovation. Companies in this sector have significant potential to tackle problems in revolutionary ways but are hurdled by a lack of resources. Many promising startups meet their untimely end in their infancy due to the same reason.

Modern research and development require exponential technologies and a fair amount of funding. The right pitch coupled with sufficient funding could dynamically change the standards of living in all sectors. However, you take one of these factors out of play and suddenly you’re out of the game. 

The solution to this is a multifunctional, technologically equipped infrastructure, a centralized focal point of innovation and advancement. Meet MaRS.

What Is MaRS?

Located in Toronto, Ontario, MaRS Discovery District is a mission-driven tech investment giant. It has been a launchpad for startups all over Canada since the year 2000. The organization mainly focuses on technology transfer and commercialization. 

MaRS helps innovators change the world. It supports over 1000 startups in the Canadian ecosystem in health, cleantech, fintech, as well as enterprise software. If you have an idea that could improve lives, MaRS will help you turn it into a reality. The unique tech-savvy environment creates a streamlined approach to research and development.

Where Does The Magic Happen?

The hub of ideas and evolution is located in the Discovery District of downtown Toronto. The building is an elegant hybrid of heritage brick and upright towers of steel and glass.

It encompasses 1.5 million sq ft. of corporate offices, research facilities, startup spaces, and science labs. MaRS Innovation is where the corporate world meets the world of ideas and research. It connects global markets, talented workers, and growth capital. What makes the franchise distinct and highly powered is its state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Its highly efficient laboratories, including Biosafety level 3 labs and advanced artificial intelligence, are unmatched. The technologically advanced medical facilities enable high-end translational research on cancer. This includes the provision of storage for frozen tissue samples alongside other avant-garde resources.

The MaRS infrastructure comprises three buildings (Phase 1) to hold its versatile variety of tenants. These include:

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  • The Toronto Medical Discovery Tower
  • The Convergence Centre in the south tower
  • The Heritage Building

Phase 2, completed in 2013, is a 20-story infrastructure. It is connected to the heritage building via the atrium.

MaRS Partners

When they say it takes a village to raise a child, they mean it. MaRS collaborates with a number of industry giants to nurture your brainchild and make it a productive member of society. These enablers include, but are not limited to, AutoCAD, Borealis AI, CIFAR, Johnson & Johnson, OICR, and PayPal. Together, they aspire to create a research-based community that sustains the startup ecosystem. 

MaRS Sectors

MaRS innovation provides resources for research and development in the following sectors

  • Health
  • Cleantech
  • Fintech
  • Enterprise

Health

MaRS innovation supports institutions that produce health solutions with broad social impact. It aids in improving patient outcomes and decreasing medical bills. It also provides proactive solutions to streamline the healthcare system, giving it proper direction and setting attainable research goals.

Even though it begins with an idea, that’s not all there is to entrepreneurship. Irrespective of the sector, simply stating an idea is not enough to build an empire. Among other services, MaRS Health helps entrepreneurs build sustainable, prosperous enterprises and navigate the complicated regulatory path to the market. 

It establishes transparent collaborations with key stakeholders. These include hospitals and government organizations. These collaborations influence the bargaining power of suppliers. 

The MaRS plan benefits both the corporate as well as the medical world. It promises better living standards and healthier lifestyles. For example, the research on cancer in OITC has produced significant developments in the health sector as well as drug marketing.

MaRS’ resources in the sector include Artificial Intelligence Utilizing AI, machine learning, and machine vision to design safer and more effective treatments. They have made leaps in multiple medical fields to promote health and wellness through research and science. 

Diagnostics: Contemporary technologies have increased accuracy in medical diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment.

Therapeutics: Research techniques have been used to accelerate the discovery and development of safe and effective medication.

Mental health: Treatments and therapeutics that cater to well-being are being explored, as well as acknowledgment of substance abuse.

Precision medicine: Customized and individualized therapies are being developed.

Regenerative medicine: Research to replace, engineer, or regenerate human cells, tissues, and organs is being conducted. 

CleanTech

MaRS enables the innovation and development of clean technology. Environmental analysis and pollution data research are conducted under this sector. Significant progress has been made in reducing emissions and cleaning up the environment. 

The trillion-dollar industry encompasses every part of society. These include the development of cutting-edge materials and transportation solutions.

MaRS speeds up the entrepreneur’s product marketing and sales. It provides stability and sustainability to infant enterprises. MaRS also ensures cost management and financial stability. 

Its exemplary networking and connections to the global market are what make up the backbone of the organization. On top of that, it provides actionable advice and counseling on how to get your business up and running. MaRS provides the emerging tech talent with a chance to change the dimensions of modern science.

Significant areas of research include:

Agri-tech

The focus is on enabling sustainable farming and increased production. This will help tackle food shortages on an international level. MaRS’ involvement with Agritech is centered around their inclusive ground-up research that promises visible results. The offshoots they invest in include:

Advanced manufacturing: To build modern and revolutionary products to make our lives easier.

Advanced materials: To engineer products that improve existing ones.

Energy: To provide efficient solutions for energy management.

Transportation: To discover eco-friendly alternative fuels and vehicles that make both the consumer and the environment happy.

Waste management: To develop technologies that effectively treat and recycle industrial and household waste.

Water: To support water purification and wastewater management innovation. We only have one planet and MaRS aims to make water resources accessible to all.

Fintech

MaRS also happens to be one of the leading organizations that best supports companies in modernizing banking business insurance. It comprises a structured system of wealth management. The MaRS leadership team provides financial literacy for account management. Its comprehensive services facilitate a better approach towards the conduction of commerce.

MaRS Fintech furnishes a wide array of subject matter expertise. Being a tech hub, it brings together more than one functioning sector of development. This leads to an interconnected web of talent, resources, and clients. Down the line, this swift marketing strategy translates to a healthier economy.

An essential goal of MaRS innovation is the development of traditional institutions. It helps them grow their market exponentially. Significant areas of focus are understanding customer demands and aligning them with the changing financial trends.

AI, data and analytics MaRS product strategy has shifted to utilizing machine learning for better customer engagement. Alternative finance utilizes non-banking tools for business. Meanwhile, MaRS has leveled up its security by utilizing safe transaction tools by developing robust cybersecurity and digital identity. 

Enterprise

One of MaRS’ claims to fame is its extensive support of small businesses. It provides a simplified path for enterprises to grow and build in a fast-track economy. Its support of new talent and extraordinary ideas is well known. MaRS assists young minds in reimagining business models. It has also brought forth an extensive array of tools to increase sales. The MaRS innovation culture has introduced a system that prioritizes minimizing employee workload while optimizing sales and output.

MaRS enterprises provide a connection between stakeholders and international markets. This contemporary business model has empowered the driving forces of our economy.

Why Choose MaRS?

MaRS is distinguished as the ultimate hub for discoveries. It has made this possible by bringing together a staggering 6,000 researchers, innovative minds, and entrepreneurs under one roof daily.

The diverse multi-structured environment provides countless opportunities for growth and technological advancement.

The personal and professional exposure is enhanced due to the versatility of the fields it comprises. Its Flat Management structure, in addition to the lean organization, is apt for blooming new talent.

The policies of the organization allow room for creativity and innovative thinking.

The MaRS Innovation mission is to support startups and help them grow. The array of numerous success stories are a testament to their success. Its dedication to further evolving small enterprises is seen in its provision of independent conduction.

Authenticity is preserved as teams are encouraged to brainstorm creative solutions to modern problems. There is also a provision of a systemic structure to maintain the organization. All the steps involved in the development of a project are dealt with by the specified unit. These include brainstorming to research, documentation, strategy development, experimentation, and final results production.

Some extra perks that employees enjoy are:

  • Exclusive access to MaRS events (such as community events) taking place at the MaRS center. These events provide opportunities for networking as well as growth in the tech sector.
  • A chance to learn and be a part of an active social committee. They aid in the development of managerial skills by active participation in organizing regular events. One such event is known as “serendipity coffees”. These are arranged to meet and network with members of other teams. Leisure events are not overlooked, and they include summer games tournaments, team-building outings, and summer golf days. These are part of the employee care policy that fosters a healthy relationship between the employee and the company.
  • To keep the employees active and vigorous, MaRS has its own softball team and offers free yoga classes. Furthermore, discounted gym memberships are given. This strategy keeps employees functional and energetic in the workplace and distinguishes the MaRS work experience from an ordinary desk job.
  • Facilities dedicated to providing employees ease include indoor bike parking and showers.
  • The unique opportunity to work alongside founders of tech startups.
  • Appropriate accommodations during COVID-19 and bonus off-days.
  • A lack of guiding staff and historic processes to follow provide quick upskilling.
  • Significant recognition and appreciation of junior employees help promote a cooperative and superior working environment.

The Downside Of MaRS

Despite its unique approach to productivity and providing solution-oriented spaces for growth, no environment can be perfect. Factors like stress, pressure, and competition tend to bring out the worst in people. A few drawbacks of working at MaRS include:

  • The pay scale might not cater to your needs if you’re on the lower levels of the employee hierarchy pyramid. Employees have often complained of significant pay differences between managerial and on-the-ground staff
  • The downside of giving independence to a team for conducting all parts of a project is the lack of accountability. As no third party keeps a check on a project’s progress, some employees may be overworked. This may be observed in higher position holders in a staff.
  • The company’s unique approach that fosters individual thinking may lead to a lack of clarity or direction amongst the workers.
  • The lack of evaluation and feedback of inter-departmental work.
  • Non-profit organizations might not be every budding entrepreneur’s cup of tea. Fundings from NGOs may vary from time to time. This can affect the progress and quality of the work and working conditions as well.
  • Extensive reorganization of patchwork teams may often cause confusion around the workplace. This may lead to decreased productivity.
  • For most business people, making their own schedule and having control over their work hours is a massive perk. However, this may not be a generalizable preference. When you are someone who struggles to meet deadlines or procrastinates frequently, the flexible job hours MaRs offers may not be the best fit. It is to be noted though, that many employees commend the flexibility.
  • The overall MaRS experience is a priceless learning experience unless you are looking to make a tremendous amount of money. The pay raise is not as appealing as one might expect from such an enterprise.
  • The nature of the company’s methods and lessons may often lead to inconsistent expectations from the employees. This may, in turn, affect the personal work ethic of an employee.

In the end, MaRS innovation is a breath of fresh air to the corporate world as well. The idea of centralizing so many influential sectors under one roof opens a door to diverse possibilities. The work environment is unique and promotes critical thinking on an individual level. Even recognizing the potential drawbacks, you cannot overlook the commendable benefits it offers. By supporting underrated, up-and-coming tech talent, it is enabling their growth. This ultimately promotes the development of science and technology to pave a path to overall better living standards. 

The recent growth the MaRS enterprise has seen is proof of its ever-growing potential. It is scouting for space in the East end of Toronto due to the bustling numbers of tenants it has seen recently. It might even be a competitor to other tech giants such as Spotify and Microsoft. With the increasing tech sector booms, MaRS innovation might end up becoming the panacea for all startups’ problems in the following years.