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Dr. Ilse Treurnicht - MaRS. Toronto, ON, CA

Dr. Ilse Treurnicht


Toronto, ON, CANADA

This extraordinary CEO and Rhodes Scholar leads an organization dedicated to developing the next generation of Canadian growth companies






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Ilse Treurnicht Speaks at Ontario Biotech Week Launch SEWF 2013: Ilse Treurnicht, MaRS Discovery District Visions for Growth: Dr. Ilse Treurnicht Innovating Innovation: How MaRS combines business, tech and social innovation for greater impact




Ilse Treurnicht is the CEO of MaRS Discovery District, a leading innovation centre located in Toronto. She oversees both the development and operations of the MaRS Centre and its broad suite of entrepreneurship and innovation programs. MaRS offers advisory services, market intelligence and entrepreneurship education to emerging companies in health care/life sciences, digital media/ICT, cleantech and social purpose businesses across Ontario.

Ilse has worked closely with the leadership of Toronto’s academic institutions and teaching hospitals to create MaRS Innovation, an integrated commercialization platform for 14 Toronto Institutions and served as the interim Managing Director for a year following its formal launch in early 2008.

Ilse joined MaRS in early 2005 from her role as President & CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures, a start-up stage venture capital fund focused on the advanced technologies sector. Prior to Primaxis, Ilse was an entrepreneur with senior management roles in a number of emerging technology companies.

She is an active member of Canada’s innovation community and has served on the boards of private companies, industry associations and research organizations. She has also been a member of several government advisory panels.

Ilse holds a DPhil in chemistry from Oxford University, which she attended as a Rhodes scholar. She has twice been honoured with the prestigious Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™Award—the first time in 2009 and again in 2011.

Industry Expertise (10)

Market Research


Investment Management

Information Technology and Services

Public Policy

Government Relations


Corporate Leadership

Training and Development


Areas of Expertise (8)

Venture Capital Management

Advanced Technologies

Emerging Technologies

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Innovation & Economic Development

Social Entreprise

Encouraging Creativity and Innovation

Social Innovation and Culture

Accomplishments (9)

Board of Directors – Cogniciti (professional)

Cogniciti is a joint venture formed in 2009 through a partnership between Baycrest, one of the world’s leading cognitive science institutes, and MaRS, Canada’s premier innovation centre.

Recipient – The Toronto Awards (professional)

Dr. Treurnicht was the recipient of The Toronto Awards in the Science category. The Toronto Awards recognized 10 people who rose above the fray. They turned heads, ignored convention and made us proud to call ourselves Torontonians.

Nominee – 25 Transformational Canadians (professional)

Dr. Treurnicht was nominated as being one of 25 Transformational Canadians by The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail partnered with CTV and Cyberpresse to celebrate Canadians who have sought to make a difference – not just by doing what they do, but through the demonstrable impact they've made on the world around them, whether in Canada or beyond. Through their vision, leadership and actions, each of these people has immeasurably improved the lives of others.

Recipient – Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™ Award (professional)

Dr. Treurnicht has twice been honoured with the prestigious Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100™Award—the first time in 2009 and again in 2011. The Canada’s Most Powerful Woman: Top 100™ Awards is Canada’s most recognizable Award for the country’s highest achieving female leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Board of Directors – The Next 36 (professional)

The goal of The Next 36 is to help launch the careers of Canada’s most promising and innovative undergraduates. The program will identify these students through a rigorous selection process, and give them the academic foundation, practical skills, role models and networks to become Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders. Students learn from high-profile business leaders, entrepreneurs and academics while wrestling with the challenge of building a new venture from idea to market.

Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute – International Advisory Committee (professional)

The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital is home to leading researchers, educators, and clinicians — dedicated professionals making new scientific discoveries, generating novel therapies, developing innovative training programs, and helping translate knowledge into practice. The Institute fosters an environment in which inter-professional teams collaborate to bring established best practices and research discoveries to patient bedsides faster than ever before.

Advisory Council – MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (professional)

The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (CII) 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. The CII is a social finance hub and incubator that acts as a neutral collaboration space for all sectors—government, community and private—enabling collective participation, talent and product development.

CEO – MaRS Discovery District (professional)

MaRS is where science, technology and social entrepreneurs get the help they need. Where all kinds of people meet to spark new ideas. And where a global reputation for innovation is being earned, one success story at a time. MaRS provides resources — people, programs, physical facilities, funding and networks — to ensure that critical innovation happens. We stimulate, identify and harness great ideas, nurture their development and guide the transformation of those ideas into reality.

Chair – Canadian Task Force on Social Finance (professional)

The Task Force on Social Finance (TFSF) has been assembled by Social Innovation Generation, a national project partnered with the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, seeking to fundamentally alter the way we think about investing and philanthropy in Canada. The TFSF’s mandate is to deliver recommendations that will ignite the development of an investment marketplace dedicated to addressing Canada’s social and environmental challenges.

Education (1)

Oxford University : DPhil, Chemistry

Dr. Treurnicht attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar

Event Appearances (25)


MaRS Innovation Summit 2010  Toronto

KEYNOTE SPEECH: Public/Private Partnerships

Build, Buy or Ally: Partnership Models for Enterprise Growth  Toronto, Ontario


KEYNOTE SPEECH – Innovation and Collaboration: Canada`s Challenges and Opportunity

Innovators in Action Speaker Series  University of Waterloo


Open-Access Science

Creative Places and Spaces Conference: The Collaborative City  Toronto, Ontario


The Challenges and Opportunities of Innovation

The Canadian Club of Toronto Event Series  Toronto, Ontario


The Business of Aging: A moonshot mission for Ontario

Ontario Innovation Summit - The Business of Aging Conference  Toronto



61st Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference  London, Ontario


The Future of Innovation

Canadian Women in Technology Event Series  Toronto


Expert Commentator: CIX Top 20 LIVE! ICT

Canadian Innovation Exchange  Toronto, Ontario



Cosmopolitan 2011  Toronto, Ontario


Leadership Panel

2012 THINK Conference  Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto


Governments and Social Entrepreneurs: Partnership versus Subcontracting

Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship  University of Oxford



The Innovation City Conference  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


Panel Chair – Catalyst Cities: Leaders of the new economy

The Innovation City Conference  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


Privacy by Design in Technology Growth Companies

Privacy by Design: Time to Take Control  Toronto, Ontario


KEYNOTE SPEECH – Entrepreneurship, Recovery & Growth: Building Canada’s Innovation Economy One New Company at a Time

The Economic Club of Canada Speaker Series  Toronto, Ontario



Business of Aging Summit  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto



Creative Places + Spaces: The Collaborative City Conference  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


Moderator: Techniques targeted at engaging MNE’s and SME’s in the innovation ecosystem

International Commercialization Forum  Toronto, Ontario



CityAge – The Innovation City  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


Panel Chair – Catalyst Cities: Leaders of the new economy

CityAge – The Innovation City  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


KEYNOTE CLOSING ADDRESS – Innovation: It’s Not a Four-Letter Word

CIO Peer Forum  Toronto, Ontario


Social Innovation / Social Finance: The Big Society, Localism and Social Enterprise

The Big Society: The Current Ethos of Social engagement in Britain and its implications for the Role of Government  University of Toronto


Leadership, Innovation and Sustainability

2009 Brick Works Forum on Leadership, Innovation and Sustainability  Toronto, Ontario


KEYNOTE SPEECH – Innovation: Then, Now & Next

Social Innovation Generation Social Impact Series  MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


Sample Talks (5)

Women and Canada's Innovation Economy

Innovation represents a challenge and an important opportunity for Canada’s economic future: strengthening our competitive advantages where we are already well positioned, and making a new generation of knowledge based businesses possible. Today, women are modest participants in Canada’s innovation economy, and its leadership. For Canada to succeed, we need to mobilize our best ideas and our skilled resources. Women engineers have a very important contribution to make, now and in the future.

Models of Social Innovation Collaboration

Canadians already understand that innovation of all kinds is critical to our country’s future prosperity. Our response will require much more than the contributions of individual innovators and companies, and must include communities, institutions and government. Dr. Treurnicht will explore models for collaboration - between silos of specialization, and the cultures of academe, business, and the public sector - as we embark on a shared journey towards a resilient innovation nation.

The Future of Innovation

Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO MaRS Discovery District, presents on the importance of innovation for national productivity, and the crucial role women play in building and supporting innovation.

Raising the Bar: Organizational Leadership

A discussion highlighting best practices by top thought leaders in the areas of health, education and technology. The session will aim to extract new insights by drawing on the expertise and experience of the CEO of MaRS Discovery District. More specifically, the discussion will be focused on how innovation can be realized within organizations despite having fewer resources available to them.

Catalyst Cities: Leaders of the new economy

Catalyst cities are centers of business and innovation — establishing new models of partnership that align public & private objectives, promote new ideas, and foster great culture to create the economies and living standards we desire. Catalyst cities are leading the attraction of human and financial capital as they re-emphasize the role of urban strengths through major events, exports, entrepreneurship and globally connected talent. This presentation will explore catalyst cities in more depth.



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Host/MC


*Will consider certain engagements for no fee