MaRS and ventureLAB set to form new collaboration focused on enhancing engagement between healthcare organizations and ventures

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - MaRS Health, a division of MaRS Discovery District and ventureLAB, a non-profit Regional Innovation Centre serving York Region, Simcoe County and Muskoka District, announce today that they are forming a new collaborative program to enhance engagement between healthcare organizations and health ventures in Ontario. As part of this new collaboration, MaRS Health and ventureLAB will work together to build a network of healthcare organizations that are committed to serving as testing, validation and pilot sites for new innovative technologies developed by startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The new program will also provide an opportunity for vetted ventures to showcase their innovative healthcare solutions, participate in co-development events with health practitioners and institutions, and engage with the broader technology development communities through hackathons, design jams and targeted challenges.

The partnership will leverage existing services from each organization such as MaRS' HealthKick and EXCITE programs and ventureLAB's Healthcare Ecosphere. Both organizations have a strong focus on health innovation and have created unique programs designed to create opportunities to grow the Ontario health innovation cluster of businesses, and accelerate the transformation of our health care system with leading edge technologies.

"ventureLAB has had great success in bringing together organizations and hospitals to solve real healthcare problems through its Healthcare Ecosphere program," said Jeremy Laurin, President and CEO of ventureLAB. "By working with MaRS on this new initiative, we hope to expand the reach of the program to include more hospitals, institutions, ventures and members of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs."

The Healthcare Ecosphere program seeks innovative solutions to address pressing healthcare challenges for leading healthcare organizations. The third call for the Healthcare Ecosphere program, developed in partnership with ventureLAB, MaRS, Southlake Regional Health Centre and Saint Elizabeth, closed on October 29. Over 30 applications were received, and successful companies will be invited to a by-invitation-only event on December 3 to present their ideas.

"For young startups, connections to healthcare organizations are crucial because it allows them to understand the extent of the challenge in front of them," said Zayna Khayat, Lead, MaRS Health and Director, MaRS EXCITE. "An entrepreneur may start a health venture because they want to have a direct impact on improving a patient's life, but lack an understanding of the complexities involved in delivering care and how to adapt their business model accordingly. MaRS and ventureLAB are focused on bridging the worlds of health and business because we want to see better solutions for patients and more jobs in Ontario."

"Having partners like ventureLAB and MaRS connect us to qualified and highly innovative ventures allows us to focus on projects that have serious potential to impact the work that we do as healthcare providers and tackle the most pressing issues that our staff face day-to-day," said Gary Ryan, Chief Innovation Officer, VP Partnerships and Business Development of Southlake Regional Health Centre. "We look forward to the opportunities that this new collaboration will bring."

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is the one of the world's largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS supports promising young ventures tackling key societal challenges in the health, cleantech and ICT sectors. In the last three years, these ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue. In addition to helping startups launch, grow and scale, the MaRS community is dedicated to cross-disciplinary collaboration, commercialization of discoveries and driving ideas to impact. MaRS Health supports over 250 Ontario-grown health technology startups with connections to capital and help navigating the regulatory and procurement systems in Canada and abroad.

About ventureLAB
ventureLAB (@ventureLABca) is a non-profit Regional Innovation Centre, which cultivates, supports and celebrates innovative entrepreneurs. Located in York Region, an integral leader in the Digital Corridor, ventureLAB supports entrepreneurs at all stages across York Region, Simcoe County, Muskoka District and the GTA. ventureLAB is the place where talented entrepreneurs get help bringing their innovation to market. Visit www.venturelab.ca for more information.

SOURCE ventureLAB

For further information: For media enquires, contact: Lara Torvi, MaRS Discovery District, ltorvi@marsdd.com, 416-673-8100; Karen Dubeau, Director of Partner Engagement, ventureLAB, kdubeau@venturelab.ca, 905-248-2706

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www.venturelab.ca

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