Canadian Manufacturing

Toronto combines residential and light-manufacturing spaces

A new manufacturing incubator could be the backbone for developing new manufacturing processes in Toronto

June 19, 2019  by CMO Staff

PHOTO: Proposed development at 440 Dufferin St., Toronto/MaRS Discovery District

TORONTO – The City of Toronto is partnering with George Brown College, MaRS Discovery District and Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (ReMAP) to pioneer a new kind of urban manufacturing space.

The innovative project, which combines residential and light-manufacturing spaces, is aimed at housing the city’s booming population and burgeoning community of technology companies.

The development at 440 Dufferin Street will be made up of three buildings, two of which will be fully residential. The third building will be partially residential and will also feature a 60,000-square-foot light-manufacturing space, within which 14,500 square feet will be dedicated to a manufacturing incubator. The complex is scheduled to open in July 2020 by developer Fitzrovia.

Smart developments are increasingly being built to accommodate the future workforce – young entrepreneurs who are seeking shared workspaces and developers are increasingly building incubator-type centres to accommodate the digital workforce, according to the project’s developers. This mixed-use complex will appeal to entrepreneurs looking to gain access to space, technologies and tools to help accelerate product development.

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“This partnership with George Brown College, MaRS and ReMAP represents an opportunity to create a new one-of-a-kind manufacturing space in Toronto,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Partnerships of this nature are key to creating more jobs and building a collaborative and innovative community within our city.”

“What I hear from the manufacturing community is that there really are not a lot of options for new companies to begin manufacturing their products in Toronto,” said Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Ward 21 Scarborough Centre). “An entrepreneur will successfully build their prototypes here, but be forced to build the next 50 to 100 products overseas. This incubator ensures that these small manufacturing firms can remain in the city of Toronto.”

“This new facility will be the place to go and get innovative hardware manufacturing businesses off the ground and it will ensure that high paying jobs will continue to exist on what has historically been employment lands,” said Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Davenport Ward 9).

In 2018, the City issued a request for proposal to find a partner and business model that could successfully run the incubator. GBC, MaRS and ReMAP collectively submitted the proposal that was selected following a competitive review process.

The manufacturing incubator will be set up as an independent, non-profit organization, with each innovation partner playing a supporting role in its operation. “Technical innovation is a vital component of local economic development. As markets evolve, companies that can successfully tap into new and exciting technologies positively impact industry and communities,” said Anne Sado, president of George Brown College. “We see an opportunity here to revitalize urban manufacturing, as many Canadian entrepreneurs have big ideas but lack the practical skills, infrastructure and resources needed to navigate the road to commercialization.”

The incubator will contribute to the growth of manufacturing ventures in Toronto and across Ontario, said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS. “As manufacturing start-ups, global talent and venture capital flows into Toronto, we need to make sure we provide them with innovative spaces. We look forward to working with our new partners to create new jobs and grow our already thriving tech ecosystem.”

“Having a manufacturing hub in Toronto is important for two reasons: leveraging product design and product development in this geography; and developing new manufacturing processes in Toronto, both will ensure global competitiveness,” said Irene Sterian, President and CEO of ReMAP. “As new entrepreneurs approach the finish line, this manufacturing incubator will provide a space where creative and talented people can do things they never could have done otherwise.”

Adrian Rocca, CEO of Fitzrovia Real Estate said mixed-use developments address both the need for rental housing as well as the need for small business incubation.