Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 28, 2003

The mission begins: MaRS Landing names first executive director

MaRS Landing, a new initiative designed to connect the biomedical and agri-food innovation communities, has named its first executive director.

John Kelly is the first employee of MaRS Landing, a joint project partnered by the University of Guelph, the City of Guelph, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) and the MaRS Discovery District. MaRS Landing – Medical and Related Sciences Links to Agricultural Network for Development and Innovation with Guelph – is intended to remove barriers to growth and improve access to tools and information in the life science and biotechnology sectors. Its primary focus is to link biomedical research from the MaRS Discovery District (located primarily in Toronto) to more rural programs, and to build on the fact that with new discoveries in genomics, computational sciences and chemistry, there’s more synergy than ever among traditional agriculture, medical sciences and manufacturing.

Kelly, 43, comes to MaRS Landing with a wealth of experience in the private and public sectors. He has held various positions with multinational companies, including Land O’ Lakes Feeds, Ralston Purina, Rhone-Poulenc Canada Inc. and Aventis CropSciences Inc., as well as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

“The MaRS Landing project is the first step in bringing together outstanding research capabilities from many different sources and ultimately benefiting the public,” said Kelly. “Linking established research programs to rural Ontario capabilities is key to the success of MaRS Landing and represents a great opportunity for its partners.”

Project co-ordinator Alan Wildeman, U of G’s vice-president (research), said Kelly “brings an extensive knowledge base of agriculture and technology to MaRS Landing. His experience in animal nutrition, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and regulatory affairs gives him a superb foundation for directing this exciting new initiative.”

Kelly is a native of Peterborough, Ont. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph, a master of science from the University of Alberta and a PhD in animal biochemistry from Guelph.

"MaRS Landing is a critical piece to the commercialization infrastructure developing in Guelph,” said Peter Cartwright, director of economic development for the City of Guelph. “John's academic and business background give him the ability to translate the scientific innovations coming down the pipeline into market-driven products that return value to the innovators and the community." Adds Gord Surgeoner, president of OAFT: "John has strong business skills and works well with people. We're delighted that he has agreed to be part of the MaRS Landing team."

In Toronto, MaRS plans to create a scientific research and development centre where science and medical communities – including those at universities and hospitals – are united with business and venture capital to catalyze the commercialization of academic research in Canada. "The MaRS mission is to help turn great science into great business,” said John Cook, president of the MaRS Discovery District. “The MaRS Landing project is a wonderful example of the MaRS vision, to actively network research communities throughout Ontario and beyond, and to share resources to ensure the creation of new wealth and opportunities for the people of Ontario and Canada. We’re pleased to be part of this innovative project with our partners in Guelph."

MaRS Landing will be based in the University of Guelph Research Park. Offices open May 5.

John Kelly, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56604

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338.

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