Briefing

MaRS Innovation hires three lobbyists to seek federal government money for life-science startups

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The Toronto-based innovation hub has hired John Duffy, Conal Slobodin and Conor Coles of StrategyCorp to lobby the PMO, the finance department and Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation CEO, told The Logic he’s looking for funding in the “tens of millions” to help promising Canadian biomedical startups stay in Canada, and bridge the gap between seed-stage funding and being established enough to attract venture capital investment. “People start things in Canada but they can’t get funding so they go south and it helps the U.S. economy. That makes no sense,” said Hofstein. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The appeal for funding is new. In October 2018, MaRS Innovation hired a lobbyist tasked with introducing the hub to key players in the federal government. Duffy himself is a noteworthy hire. The StrategyCorp founder currently represents a series of other powerful companies, including Sidewalk Labs, the e-cigarette company Juul Labs and the construction giant EllisDon. MaRS Innovation focuses on early-stage seed investments for life-science companies. The hub mostly helps Toronto’s major research universities and hospitals package and commercialize the intellectual property they generate.