U of T Mississauga announces Blue Ticket competition to propel life science entrepreneurship.

Mississauga, ON – 7 September 2023

We are delighted to welcome the international biopharmaceutical leader, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, as the inaugural industry supporter of U of T Mississauga’s Blue Ticket program at SpinUp, U of T’s first wet-lab incubator for life science innovation.

Merck’s support will provide mentorship and financial support for one early-stage life science venture, jumpstarting the Blue Ticket program toward its long-term vision: to power the next generation of global health innovators and innovation from Mississauga.

The program invites applications starting on 14 September; SpinUp will open its first general call for membership at the same time, encouraging early-stage life science entrepreneurs to apply for both opportunities simultaneously.


Driving Life Science Innovation

The Blue Ticket program bets on the insight of lab-based entrepreneurs. The first Blue Ticket, generously supported by Merck, will provide one early-stage life science company with:

  • Free one-year membership at SpinUp;
  • An unrestricted $5,000 cash prize; and
  • Mentorship opportunities with Merck scientists and business leaders.

“This support will enable start-ups to learn alongside industry experts and focus their capital where it matters most,” said Raquel De Souza, founder of the Blue Ticket program at U of T Mississauga. “That means advancing innovative research that will have a meaningful impact on human health and wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, Blue Ticket industry supporters gain

  • Early insight into emerging innovations aligned with their vision and priority areas;
  • Tailored engagement with U of T’s leading science trainees and researchers; and
  • Opportunities to show support for the Canadian life sciences community and to advocate for entrepreneurship and health innovation.

The result is a partnership that makes a real difference. Blue Tickets will build close, reciprocal relationships, bringing startups and industry supporters together around a belief in the power of scientific innovation. “We have an amazing opportunity to share this power at scale,” explained Alexandra Gillespie, U of T Mississauga’s vice-president and principal, “because we’re starting from such a strong place – with Merck.”

“We’re thrilled to support the launch of U of T Mississauga’s Blue Ticket program as the inaugural industry supporter,” said Marwan Akar, president and managing director, Merck Canada. “We’re eager to work with innovators who share the same commitment to cutting-edge science, regardless of therapeutic area or modality, and are looking to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives.”


Apply for the First Blue Ticket Competition

14 September – 31 October 2023

  • U of T Mississauga and Merck invite early-stage life science entrepreneurs to apply for the first Blue Ticket competition starting on 14 September. The detailed invitation will be posted on the SpinUp website, along with SpinUp’s first-ever call for membership applications, on the same day.
  • Entrepreneurs can apply for a SpinUp membership and for the Blue Ticket through the same website, simultaneously, until 31 October 2023. The Blue Ticket winner will be announced in January 2024, shortly after SpinUp’s first cohort of entrepreneurs has been selected.
  • Entrepreneurs and Eligible Industry Supporters – to learn more about how the Blue Ticket program can advance your goals, please email spinup@utoronto.ca.


About SpinUp and U of T Entrepreneurship

  • SpinUp is the first wet lab venture incubator at the University of Toronto, Canada’s leading centre for learning and discovery and one of the world’s top-two universities for health science productivity.
  • SpinUp is purpose built to drive life science innovation. It offers early-stage life science start-ups access to outstanding wet lab space, equipment, and expertise in the new science building at U of T Mississauga – at a fraction of the cost of comparable facilities. The new science building will open in fall 2023 as one of the greenest and most comprehensive wet lab facilities in North America.
  • SpinUp is proudly part of U of T entrepreneurship, a network of 12+ innovation accelerators across three campuses. Over the past ten years, this network has supported more than 650 capital-backed companies, which have created 9,000 jobs and raised $2.5 billion in external investment. U of T now launches more research-based start-ups than any university in North America outside of MIT.

Learn more about SpinUp and U of T Entrepreneurship here.


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