A seed was planted in three Toronto-based tech start-ups recently. The companies were the benefactors of a fund that helps emerging Ontario technology companies bring products and services to market. The companies each received $500,000 in institutional funding from the Province of Ontario’s Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), an initiative spearheaded by the MaRS Discovery District, an innovation centre in Toronto.
“The dislocation of the economy over the last three years has been very critical. We know that many of those traditional manufacturing jobs have simply gone away,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO of MaRS Discovery District, recently at an event celebrating the IAF recipients. “If you begin to think about innovation as a lever to economic recovery, small companies create the majority of new jobs … This is the engine room of Ontario’s economic future and this fund has played an absolutely critical role in making sure that through this very challenging period, those companies are positioned for success and they’re going to be on the right side of the recovery curve.”
The fund, which was launched three years ago, was lauded by MPP Glen Murray (Toronto Centre) who praised the research and innovation cultivated by the fund. “We have to do more and … there has to be a reinvestment,” Murray said. “Regions that aren’t doing that, that aren’t making the investments in public institutions and individuals simply aren’t competitive in this rapidly globalizing economy. Our ability to innovate and move innovation to market quickly in an accelerated fashion is simply the most important jurisdictional advantage any region in the world has.”
For Treurnicht, what’s unique about the IAF is the way in which it brings the public and private sectors together, helping one capitalize on the other. “The goal of the IAF is really to get these companies ready for the next stage and really leverage private investments in these companies as they grow,” She said. “It means the decisions have to be made with a private sector mindset.”