Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
October 21, 2002
University receives $2.96 million for 'MaRS Landing'
The provincial government today announced a $2.96-million investment in MaRS Landing, a project that links the University of Guelph and the City of Guelph to Toronto's new biotechnology centre and ensures that rural Ontario participates and shares in the strategies and economic benefits of innovation and growth.
The funding was announced by Brian Coburn, Ontario associate minister of municipal affairs and housing, responsible for rural affairs during a special event at the university. "The launch of this initiative is a powerful example of what can be achieved when you bring the private, public and university sectors together," Coburn said. Also in attendance were Brenda Elliott, MPP for Guelph-Wellington; Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge; University president Mordechai Rozanski; and Vice-President (Research) Alan Wildeman, who is also the project leader.
"This is an important example of a developing number of integrated partnerships in the agri-food sector," Rozanski said. "Facilities, resources and experts from the academic, industry and government communities have joined forces to find new strategies for creating opportunities that will support rural Ontario."
MaRS Landing stands for Medical and Related Sciences Links to Agricultural Network for Development and Innovation with Guelph. "We chose that acronym because it expresses the purpose of the project to connect the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto with the life science and agri-food focus of the University of Guelph," Wildeman said. The Toronto MaRS Discovery District -- one of the Guelph project partners -- is dedicated to accelerating the commercialization of scientific discovery. MaRS will actively connect research communities and extend via a virtual network throughout Ontario and beyond. The MaRS Centre, a 1.2-million-square-foot convergence complex, will be the focal point of Toronto's downtown Discovery District, one of the largest concentrations of medical research in North America, including the University of Toronto and over 30 internationally renowned hospitals and research institutes.
"MaRS Landing will establish an effective long-term relationship between the MaRS Discovery District and the life science and agri-food clusters centered in Guelph," Wildeman said. Guelph has to play a more strategic role in providing a comprehensive gateway for innovation opportunities in rural Ontario, he said.
"This alliance leverages our scientific and technological strength in a unique inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional way. MaRS Landing is not about infrastructure. It's an opportunity for innovations coming out of research aimed at rural Ontario to mesh with innovation possibilities in other sectors."
MaRS Landing will also serve as a model for co-operation among other sectors. Partners also include Ontario Agri-Food Technologies the City of Guelph's Department of Economic Development. Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge says the project will ensure that Guelph and rural communities are able to share in the economic benefits from life science innovation and growth. "Guelph looks forward to utilizing this project as a platform from which to build stronger ties to other rural municipalities in Ontario," Farbridge said. While Gordon Surgeoner, president of Ontario Agri-food Technologies and a U of G plant agriculture professor, added "We have superb science in the medicine at Toronto and in agriculture at Guelph. Both institutions can benefit from the synergy created by this investment."
MaRS Landing is expecting to locate in the university's Research Park and will help provide access to the following:
-- a network for Ontario's bioclusters to optimize their critical mass and co-ordination, and facilitate communication and collaboration;
-- legal know-how in areas such as intellectual property rights and international trade;
-- financial advice in accessing risk capital and structuring arrangements to meet the needs of investors and researchers;
-- regulatory approvals and process information for the introduction of new technologies; and
-- marketing, public relations and production assistance.
"One of the key goals of MaRS Landing is to bring these resources together in a way that makes them accessible to rural entrepreneurs," Wildeman said.
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