Promoting Innovation in the Province of Ontario


On the occasion of Discovery 2012, a conference specializing in innovation organized in Toronto last May, nearly 2,500 participants and more than 300 exhibitors gathered at the Congress Centre. Success story...

Every year, the event DiscoverIt serves as a showcase for start-ups specialising in cutting-edge technologies and generates new ideas by bringing together entrepreneurs, researchers and key players in innovative sectors.

Le Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE), organizer of Discovery 2012, is one of the key innovative players. Founded in 1987, OCE is a non-profit organization that helps companies partner with academic researchers to address industrial challenges and create innovative products for the international market. OCE works with world leaders such as 3M, AMD, Bombardier and Trojan Technologies as well as Ottawa-based EION,Kitchener-based Miovision Technologies and other innovative Ontario start-ups.

The province of Ontario is one of the major R&D centres in North America. More than 100,000 [1] companies and university researchers, assistants and technical teams spend at least $13.4 billion [2], or €11 billion, each year on research into new discoveries (vaccines, nanomaterials, wireless devices, etc.).

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Home to 18 of Canada's top [3] research universities, Ontario has demonstrated global strengths in a wide range of sectors, including health, industry, digital media and clean technologies. Harnessing this high-value resource can generate competitive advantages for Ontario companies in the global marketplace.

chairsean"Innovation is driven by needs and brings opportunities," said ECA President Chair Sean, "We create opportunities for companies to access this expertise. Our approach is driven by industry. We know a company's needs and identify how our research capacity can meet its challenge, and then we combine the two[4].

MaRS, an innovative research centre based in Toronto, plays a very different role in innovation. Opened in 2005, it has grown rapidly to become a key member of the commercialization sector. The current expansion of the centre, which will soon include 20 additional floors, will double its surface area (140,000 m²) and make it one of the most important urban innovation hubs in the world. It hosts formal and informal meetings and houses both offices and laboratories for companies, research organisations and funding agencies.

MarchMaRS is committed to advancing the successful commercialization of innovative technologies. In order to become MaRS clients, start-ups must apply and go through a rigorous selection process, but the benefits can be invaluable; expert guidance and mentoring from seasoned entrepreneurs, free market research, and access to financing from extensive networks of investors and consumers.

MaRS also serves as a link to a network of regional innovation centres across the province, most of which have at least one university-intensive research facility. This network - the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE) - provides local entrepreneurs with a single point of access to 150 organizations, more than 1,100 commercialization experts, community leaders, and investors across Ontario.

"MaRS is a proud and active member of the Ontario Network of Excellence, which helps innovative start-ups succeed in international markets," said Dr. Ilse Treunicht, Director of Discovery at MaRS. "This unique and collaborative business environment provides entrepreneurs across Ontario with market research and tools, advice and mentoring from industry experts and seasoned entrepreneurs, as well as access to an invaluable network of consumers, partners and capital. It's a unique offering in North America. [5] »

ONE is a key component of the Ontario government's multi-year, multi-billion euro innovation strategy. This strategy is supported by funding programs, as well as international innovation-focused organizations such as the Cancer Research Institute of Ontario.

universiteontarioOntario's innovation strategy is, in turn, part of the economic plan to create an ecosystem in the province that helps knowledge-based industries become globally competitive. Ontario has invested heavily in university education to develop a talented and skilled workforce. The province's R&D tax incentive tax is among the most generous in the G7. Operating costs are among the lowest in the major industrialized countries, primarily in digital media, financial services, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing. [6]

The success of the strategy can be measured in part by the overall growth rate of Ontario-based companies such as Research In Motion and the Royal Bank of Canada. In addition, in 2011, Ontario attracted more than €5 billion in foreign direct investment from companies as diverse as Toyota, Ciena and Hoffmann-La Roche. Finally, the number of start-ups in Ontario has increased very significantly, such as Toronto-based Polar Mobile, which has rapidly expanded internationally.

In less than 5 years, Polar Mobile has become the developer of more than 1200 mobile applications with more than 11 million subscribers as well as an international client list of leading media companies. The company, which was founded by software engineering students at the University of Waterloo, is now working with MaRS consultants to grow the business. "You'll be hard pressed to find a better place to start and grow a business," said Kunal Gupta, President of Polar Mobile and a member of the Discovery Conference. "There's great access to government expertise and support systems, the US is only a few hours away by air and for every euro spent on R&D, I get 40 cents. [7] »

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The pace of innovation is accelerating and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery event is proof of that. However, for companies looking to get ahead, Ontario's innovative environment offers competitive advantages that can make a difference in international markets.

For more information

ontario3Ontario, Canada

Ontario is Canada's economic engine, accounting for 37 % of its GDP, 39 % of its population and 38 % of its goods exports. As a result of financial support and consultation available to businesses of all sizes, funding programs to stimulate innovation and research and development, and the most highly educated workforce in the G7, Ontario now has the largest economy in Canada and one of the top 10 in North America.

The province has close economic ties with France, which is its seventh largest trading partner. In the province, about 7 % of foreign direct investment and 15 % of capital spending from Europe are French. The proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will further boost trade between Canada and the European Union. Visit www.investinontario.com/fr and www.ontarioexports.com/fr


1 Statistics Canada Science Statistics Catalogue no. 88-001-X " Research and Development Personnel in Canada,1998 to 2007 " February 2010 Edition Table 2-1

2 Statistics Canada, Science Statistics Catalogue no. 88-221-X , January 2012. "Gross Domestic Expenditures on Research and Development in Canada (GERD), and the Provinces - National Estimates 2001 to 2011 and Provincial Estimates 2005 to 2009" Table 2.

3 Re$earch Infosource "Canada's Top 50 Research Universities 2011". http://www.researchinfosource.com/top50.shtml

4 Reviewed and approved by Anne Wettlaufer. VP Marketing and Communications, OCE, June 28, 2012

5 Reviewed and quote supplied by Kara Collins, Communications Manager, MaRS , July 3, 2012

6 KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2012 www.competitivealternatives.com with additional analysis by MEDI SIU, April 2012

7 Approved by Kunal Gupta, Polar Mobile, June 28, 2012

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