The City of Toronto is partnering with George Brown College (GBC), MaRS Discovery District and Refined Manufacturing Acceleration Process (ReMAP) to pioneer a new kind of urban manufacturing space. The new project breaks the mold of the traditional high density residential developments by combining residential and light-manufacturing spaces. The innovative project is the first of its kind in North America, aimed at housing the city’s booming population and burgeoning community of technology companies.

Once complete, 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. This mixed-use complex will appeal to entrepreneurs looking to gain access to space, technologies and tools to help accelerate product development.

“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). “On top of that we are excited that Ward 9 will be the home of three new residential buildings that are dedicated to improving the availability of rental housing.”

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 setup 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. George Brown College, with our extensive track record of successfully helping industry get products to market, is excited to lead this initiative in collaboration with MaRS and ReMAP and forge a new future for manufacturing in Toronto and beyond.”

“This new incubator will contribute enormously to the growth of manufacturing ventures here 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.”

“We are excited to be participating in such a critical project for the city,” said Adrian Rocca, CEO of Fitzrovia Real Estate. “We believe mixed-use developments like this will define the future of urban living because they address both the need for rental housing as well as the need for small business incubation.”