The MaRS Discovery District will graduate its first cohort of socially-minded businesses today at the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
Impact8 is Ontario’s first accelerator for social purpose businesses. It’s an intensive eight-week program that targets “high-impact” entrepreneurs with “blended value propositions: social enterprises, social purpose businesses and co-operatives with the potential to turn investment into positive social or environmental impact and financial return”. Impact8 opened the market at 9:30am this morning, while demos will take place at 3pm in the TMX Gallery.
“We are delighted to work with our partners to support high-potential, high-impact entrepreneurs developing enterprising solutions to our most pressing social and environmental problems,” said MaRS’ Adam Spence. “Impact8 helps build a more robust pipeline of investment-ready impact ventures in Ontario.”
The inaugural cohort consists of the following ventures:
- Detailing Knights, an eco-aware, mobile car detailing service that reduces water waste by 99 per cent and has developed an innovative franchising model to reduce barriers to youth entrepreneurship.
- Learning Bird, which offers affordable online individualized learning experiences to K-12 students, and rewards teachers both inside and outside of the classroom.
- LB Designs, formerly Local Buttons, is creating sustainable fair-paying jobs and refining the manufacturing process inHaiti to up-cycle “pepe,” secondhand clothing often worn by Haitians, into clothing that is marketable as fashion items for young professionals in North America.
- The Lucky Iron Fish™, a simple, affordable, culturally accepted health innovation tackling iron deficiency anemia inCambodia and globally. Cooking or boiling water with an iron ingot cast in the shape of a fish (a Cambodian symbol for luck) allows iron to leach into the water where it can be absorbed.
- GrantBook, which increases the net value of grants by curating lightweight and continuously updated technology solutions for grant makers to advance collaboration, grants management and knowledge-sharing.
- Sumac, an organization that provides physical space and support for food businesses to incubate, launch and develop in South Western Ontario. The initiative is spun out of the success of the Toronto Underground Market.
- Sunfarmer, which supplies solar energy services to rural communities lacking access to reliable and affordable electricity by providing technology and innovative financing solutions.
- RainGrid Network, which offers smart, green infrastructure to protect cities against storm water flooding. RainGrid Network’s smart cisterns catch rooftop runoff to prevent sewage overflows, flooded basements and pollution of our rivers and beaches, at half the cost of conventional infrastructure.
MaRS provided mentoring and assistance for the teams from RBC, TMX, KPMG, Miller Thomson and Matter&Co, a UK-based communications firm. Those firms provided “tools, networks and advice to fast-track ventures to investment readiness, help them attract financing and scale their impact.”
The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is a national hub designed to increase the awareness and effectiveness of social finance to catalyze new capital, talent and initiatives dedicated to tackling social and environmental problems in Canada. Meanwhile the greater umbrella organization of MaRS has created over 4,000 jobs and, in the last three years alone, they have raised over $750 million in capital, earning over $375 million in revenue.