Celebrating Canadian innovation
MaRS supports more than one thousand ventures across a range of sectors. These young companies are led by ambitious entrepreneurs who push the limits of discovery and stop at nothing short of #BreakThrough. Launched in Canada, many of their technologies are also making a big difference around the world, reinforcing Canada’s leadership in the innovation space.
We’re honoured to work with these proudly Canadian companies across our cleantech, health and information and communications technology sectors. In celebration of Canada Day, we’d like to share some highlights of their innovative technologies.
- SunFarmer is a Toronto startup that provides reliable and affordable renewable energy to health clinics, schools and farms in developing countries with little or zero electricity. Drawing from their experiences building North American solar projects, SunFarmer’s co-founders have been setting up projects in Nepal since 2013. In the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquakes this past April, SunFarmer has been providing free solar lights and electricity to the most devastated areas, and the company is looking to do more in the coming months to support the rebuilding and reconstruction of the country.
- Closer to home, Nanoleaf was established by a passionate team of thinkers, believers, creatives and doers from the University of Toronto who were interested in developing sustainable products. The company’s line of energy-efficient LED lighting combines planet-friendly technology with people-friendly designs, and has been gaining recognition worldwide. Most recently, Nanoleaf was awarded a Global Efficiency Medal by the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment Initiative for its Nanoleaf One product.
- Smarter Alloys, which was developed at the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Foundry, makes smart materials smarter. The company’s Multiple Memory Material technology can be applied in a wide range of industries, from wearable technology to medical devices. Its application to Shape Memory Alloys makes them smarter, lighter, more reliable and capable of previously unimaginable functions.
- Housed at MaRS, Highland Therapeutics is an emerging speciality pharmaceutical company that wants to help people better control the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD medications are typically prescribed to be taken in the morning. This means that getting through an early morning routine can be difficult for many—especially for children—as it takes some time for the medication to take effect. DELEXIS, Highland’s drug delivery platform, enables patients to take their ADHD medications before they go to sleep by delaying the release of the medication for approximately eight hours. This means that patients can feel the effects of the treatment from the moment they wake up in the morning. Highland just closed a $50-million financing round with Eastern Capital Ltd., enabling the company to evolve from solely research and development to scalable pharmaceutical commercialization.
- PlantForm is a Guelph-based company that is using genetically modified tobacco plants to generate life-saving drugs more affordably, reducing manufacturing costs by up to 90%. The company’s vivoXPRESS technology, which was developed at the University of Guelph, can be used to produce a biosimilar version of several oncology drugs. It is currently being tested to produce antibodies for an HIV treatment in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and to produce antibodies for the treatment of the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus disease.
- Supported by Rainy River First Nations, Rip n Go was founded by Ottawa mom Lousie Miner and her husband, Adrian Campbell, to combat the sleep deprivation that came from constantly having to change their newborn daughter’s bedsheets. Rip n Go’s patented detachable bedsheets are rewashable, easy to remove and easy to replace due to their patented Velcro system. Rip n Go offers products for beds of all sizes, so the company is also helping adults who suffer from incontinence or limited mobility issues.
- HigherEdPoints is an education technology venture and Impact8 alumnus that is working to reduce the financial burden on students and parents by turning loyalty points into tuition dollars. Student debt is a growing issue all over the world. In fact, in the United States alone, student debt is growing by over $3,000 per second. Along with its first loyalty partner, Aeroplan Miles, HigherEdPoints is working with universities and colleges across Canada to allow anyone to redeem their rewards as payments toward tuition or existing debt, or even to donate points. The HigherEdPoints team isn’t stopping with Canada, though, as they have plans to expand into the United States, Brazil and beyond.
- Borrowell is another Canadian company that is looking at debt from a new angle. As one of Canada’s first marketplace lending companies, it is offering high-credit Canadians an alternative source for personal loans instantly through its website. Unlike credit cards, Borrowell offers a fixed term loan that can be repaid quickly and predictably, making it a responsible credit tool. “Our aim is to be a part of the solution to Canada’s debt problem, as our debt consolidation product allows users to lower their carrying cost on their existing debt,” explains Jeff Goldenberg, head of growth for Borrowell.
Edtech company Edvisor.io is working to help education agencies easily connect their students with foreign language programs across the globe. The Edvisor team is based in Toronto, but their platform is truly international, designed to enable teams to work from multiple locations and serve customers with a variety of language needs.
Irene is an Associate at the Advanced Energy Centre (AEC) at MaRS. As part of the AEC, she works with partners and energy sector stakeholders to address the barriers to energy innovation adoption and build capacity as the sector undergoes significant changes. See more…
Lily manages the Procurement by Co-Design challenges to ensure effective collaboration between healthcare providers and vendors. See more…
Robin Whittall was an associate in the Information & Communications Technology sector at MaRS. She has an extensive background working with and for startup companies, and is passionate about innovation. See more…