In the latest instalment of Meet a MaRSian, Angelo Casanas interviews Tony Redpath, vice-president of partner programs at MaRS.
What role do you play at MaRS?
My role is to help create partnership programs and opportunities at MaRS in relation to the provincial government, in particular the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. I work closely with Ilse Treurnicht [MaRS’ CEO] in designing programs and negotiating contracts, and assist talent acquisition in running the programs.
Based on your background would you define yourself as a scientist or an entrepreneur?
The two are not mutually exclusive. I think I’m both. What fascinates me is taking new knowledge, converting it into a product that people want and getting it into their hands. What I tell scientists, and joke about, is that understanding the science is only the first step. Being an entrepreneur is even more challenging because you want to understand the science and now you have to do these other things to get it out there.
Apart from being a scientist and an entrepreneur, what people may not know is that you’re an avid naturalist and you own a farm. What type of activities do you do at the farm?
I go with my family to our so-called weekend hobby farm, in part, to get the kids out of the city. It is a place where you get to observe nature and be close to it. We do all sorts of things at the farm, like catch frogs and butterflies, and this year I’ve planted a vineyard. It’s small, but my plan is to make some wine. In the past we’d make our own maple syrup or walk over to our neighbours’ during lambing season when the kids could bottle-feed lambs. I’ve also raised bees for a decade now. It’s all for fun learning about the bees and watching what they do. And hey, we get lots of honey!
From all the things you have mentioned, what gives you the most satisfaction?
We have owned the farm for 25 years and after those years I now have a sense of the place and what goes on there. I can walk out and notice, ‘Hmmm, a kingbird has been missing for the last several years.’ Just minding the wildlife, the different changes and being aware of what is happening in that environment. If there’s one thing that I can pin down [as the most gratifying] it’s the whole sense of knowing that one little corner of the world and having a better understanding of how life takes place in that area.
What would you prefer, a spoon full of honey or a spoon full of maple syrup from your farm?
The honey. Basically because I’m lazy! For a spoon full of honey, the bees did all the work. But for a spoon full of maple syrup, I had to do all the work! Let’s just say I like to delegate.
Will we see Tony Redpath’s lip-smacking honey on store shelves any time soon?
I may bring some to MaRS’ shelves, but you won’t see it on store shelves!