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article imageMaRS and University of Toronto partner on waterfront tech hub

By Karen Graham     Sep 25, 2018 in Technology
MaRS Discovery District, along with its partner the University of Toronto, today announced that it is in the final stages of securing a lease with Menkes Developments Ltd. for a new 24,000-square-foot hub at Toronto's Waterfront Innovation Centre.
MaRS Discovery District in Toronto is one of the world's largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS supports promising ventures in tackling key challenges in the health, cleantech, fintech, and enterprise sectors as they start, grow and scale.
“The University of Toronto is excited to partner with MaRS to help expand Toronto’s rapidly growing startup scene to the city’s waterfront,” said U of T President Meric Gertler, who is also a member of the Waterfront Toronto board. "It's a winning combination — MaRS's world-class suite of innovative programming and expert support for entrepreneurship with the incredible depth and range at U of T."
MaRS CEO, Yung Wu, said, "Toronto is experiencing its lowest commercial vacancy rate ever (three percent), making the city the most sought-after market in North America. It's imperative that we develop new innovative and entrepreneurial hubs in communities across the city."
The construction of the centre is a project of Waterfront Toronto and developer Menkes. Expected to open in 2021, the Waterfront Innovation Centre will hold about 400,000 square feet of commercial space and accommodate around 3,000 workers. And, as the U of T puts it, the centre will be just "a stone's throw" from the proposed Sidewalk Toronto neighborhood.
The centre was designed by Toronto's Sweeny &Co Architects Inc. offer high-speed broadband networking (fuelled in part by self-generating solar power), floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive collaboration spaces.
MaRS and U of T will take up very little of the available space in the new two-story building, but it is important that both organizations have a presence in the hub.
"U of T sees itself as a primary anchor of Toronto's innovation ecosystem," said U of T's Scott Mabury. "If that ecosystem is going to expand to a different part of the city, then we want to have U of T's flag planted there."
The non-profit's 780,000-square-foot West tower at College Street and University Avenue is currently 99.8 percent full, and this means MaRS will be turning many promising startups away - simply due to lack of space.
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