Since I started my internship at MaRS, I find I’m sometimes faced with people who have no idea what the company does. Some people I meet assume it’s all about medical science, and yet MaRS is so much more. It’s about innovation in all fields, and it’s helping to grow innovative ideas into world realities—which is much more complicated to explain.

During my very first week here, while I was still stuck on the “medical science and innovation” idea myself, MaRS held both the Health IT Innovation Forum and the Future of Energy Summit, two large-scale gatherings of leaders in the healthcare and energy sectors, brought together by MaRS to encourage innovation and improvement in their industries.

The Health IT Forum focused on improving the patient experience in Ontario hospitals and coming up with strategies to more easily adopt innovation in the healthcare system. The Energy Summit highlighted new methods of clean energy generation, complete with exhibits on new technologies displayed in the MaRS Atrium.

The Future of Energy Innovation Showcase at the MaRS Centre

These events were both exceptional and the norm at the MaRS Centre: big events are noteworthy, but new ideas are presented on a daily basis here. Nowhere was this made more apparent to me than during an Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshop, an educational series that MaRS provides for entrepreneurs.

This particular workshop was “Pitching to Investors,” where speakers explained the importance of the story arc in getting investors interested in your company or product. It was a small and intimate gathering, with entrepreneurs sharing ideas, giving advice to one another and taking part in hands-on mini-projects.

In this brief encounter, it seemed to me that the MaRS workshops work very well. Too well, in fact! I found myself frantically jotting down business ideas of my own by the end of the four-hour session.

I’ve since heard several descriptions of what we do here at MaRS: we’re a commercialization centre; we foster innovation; we advise and support entrepreneurs; and the list continues. Now when I’m asked what my  job is, what MaRS is and what we’re doing, I answer: “We help current systems work better and help new ones get started.” At least that’s my take on it!

Now that’s a worthwhile summer.

Robin Simpson-McKay

Robin is a summer intern in the Business Services department at MaRS. She’s currently studying economics at Barnard College of Columbia University in New York, with a minor in science and public policy. See more…