Federal and Provincial Proof of Principle Programs Support Translational Technology Development

Ontario Centres of Excellence--Where Next HappensTORONTO (August 16, 2010) – MaRS Innovation (MI) is pleased to announce that translational funding to support product development for early-stage technologies from its members has been successfully deployed from federal and provincial sources. At the federal level, three of MI’s commercialization projects have recently received notification of funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Proof of Principle (PoP) program, amounting to approximately $470,000.

Moreover, MI has successfully deployed about $1 million in proof of principle funding received from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (MRI) through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). This provincial program was previously managed by the MI founding commercialization partners in the life and physical sciences, BioDiscovery Toronto (BDT) and Technology Transfer Toronto (TTT). MI is grateful that these organizations laid the foundation for provincial proof of principle funding and looks forward to continuing a successful provincial PoP program.

“Leveraging our expertise and resources in commercialization and intellectual property with proof of principle funding at all levels of government in Canada will enhance the commercialization potential for these technologies,” says Parimal Nathwani, vice-president of commercialization at MI. “Obtaining a critical mass of translational funding is challenging for early stage projects, but we are encouraged that the government remains committed to supporting commercialization through these initiatives”.

All three CIHR PoP applications that were funded for the Toronto Discovery District are MI projects and ranked in the top 10% within Canada. Notably, the projects funded through this federal initiative include: 1) Nefopam as an agent to prevent and treat hyperplastic scars led by Dr. Benjamin Alman from the Hospital for Sick Children; 2) Wire for MRI-Guided Interventions led by Dr. Charles Cunningham from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; 3) Commercial Development of Bioengineered Therapeutic Strategy for Spinal Cord Injury led by Dr. Molly Shoichet from the University of Toronto. MI currently has five projects for which it has led the development of a commercialization plan that have been funded through the federal CIHR PoP program.

The Provincial PoP program, which was managed by MI through a panel of industry representatives, venture capitalists and early stage technology development experts, funded approximately twenty PoP projects from MI Member Institutions. These projects spanned all disciplines including Life Sciences, Medical Devices, Physical Sciences, Information & Communication Technology and Clean Technology. The Provincial PoP program managed by MI is highly strategic as it provides MI with visibility and mechanisms to provide guidance on future projects and technologies for commercialization.

“We look forward to working with the lead investigators and our Member Institutions to effectively utilize the Federal and Provincial PoP funds towards product development so that MaRS Innovation can effectively support commercialization of these exciting opportunities,” adds Nathwani. “Taken together with our recent announcement of a co-managed fund, MaRS Innovation projects are gathering significant momentum and early stage non-dilutive funding from government and corporate sources”.

About MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation (MI) provides an integrated commercialization platform that harnesses the economic potential of the exceptional discovery pipeline of 14 leading Toronto academic institutions. MI is a non-profit organization with an independent industry-led Board of Directors, funded through the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence and the contributions of its member institutions. Designed to enhance the commercial output of Toronto’s outstanding scientific research cluster, MI will make a significant contribution to Canada’s economic outlook and the quality of life for Canadians and others around the world.

MI will advance commercialization through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation. The MI mission is to place Canada on the global innovation stage, by better connecting research with industry and strengthening Canada’s competitive capacity in knowledge based businesses – in short, to launch a new generation of robust, high-growth Canadian companies that will become global market leaders.

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