TORONTO, March 16, 2012 /CNW/ - MaRS announces that five of its clients have been chosen to participate in VentureStart, a new program unveiled today by the Mississauga-based Research Innovation Commercialization (RIC) Centre and MaRS. Designed to enhance the success rate of technology startups in Southern Ontario by providing targeted training and education, VentureStart also provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to secure matching seed financing of up to $30,000 to launch their new venture.
Funded through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and with support from the Canadian Innovation Centre (CIC) and a consortium of other non-profit Regional Innovation Centres, including MaRS, the program is geared to train as many as 450 entrepreneurs over 15 months, and provide as much as $4 million in seed financing to qualified applicants.
"We're delighted to partner with the RIC Centre on their VentureStart program, as it will complement the work that we are already doing through our educational programs and advisory services," said Keri Damen, Director of Entrepreneurship Education at MaRS. "Funding is a challenge for emerging entrepreneurs and this program will help fill that gap."
The MaRS clients chosen to participate in the program produce a range of technology applications:
- Epilogger Inc. offers a living time capsule of human history, enabling event organizers to quickly produce reports and instant infographics, while allowing attendees to relive, discover and share their event experience.
- Clear Blue Technologies delivers intelligent power control solutions for off-grid and grid-tie applications in lighting and security markets.
- Evolution Health Systems Inc. produces an evidence-based platform that brings standardized care from the doctor's office into the day-to-day lives of patients using web, mobile and social networking. For pharma companies, Evolution Health doubles patient adherence to medications, and for insurance companies, the platform reduces costs by tripling successful outcomes.
- uFluidix Inc. has developed innovative technology for scalable manufacturing of high-quality, low-cost, lab-on-a-chip platforms. These emerging hand-held devices offer quick, accurate analysis of liquid samples smaller than the fraction of a droplet. Applications include diagnostics, forensics, bio-warfare, DNA sequencing and environmental monitoring.
- 1DegreeBio Inc. has created an open-access online model that enables researchers to quickly and easily locate top quality products, while providing a new channel for suppliers to more effectively market their products online.
The VentureStart program works on an "equal contribution" basis, where entrepreneurs contribute toward the total cost of the education phase of the program (matched by FedDev through VentureStart) and 50 per cent of the seed financing for the product development phase, up to a maximum of $30,000 in matching funds.
For entrepreneurs who successfully complete the education phase, the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) at MaRS and partner organizations in the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) will provide mentoring, along with the key support services that are typically required for the successful launch and operation of a new business.
To qualify for seed financing, entrepreneurs must complete the education phase, which provides the foundation for creating a business development plan for their new venture. They must also participate in a full Critical Factor Assessment (CFA) conducted by an EIR at the partner RIC and the Canadian Innovation Centre. The CFA evaluates their plan against 42 factors that have been identified as critical for venture success and identifies flaws to be addressed in order to provide the venture the best likelihood of succeeding.
To be eligible for the VentureStart program, entrepreneurs must be university or college graduates of a science, technology, engineering or mathematics program, and must reside in southern Ontario. Full details of the program and sign-up forms are available at www.venturestart.ca.
MaRS Discovery District (www.marsdd.com) (Twitter: @MaRSDD) is a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto. MaRS works with partners to catalyze, accelerate and amplify innovation. MaRS supports entrepreneurs building Canada's next generation of growth companies.
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