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Development of Intellectual Property

When most people think about intellectual property (IP), they imagine startup businesses and active capitalistic goals. While that is certainly one way of developing IP, there are others. Regardless of your goals for disseminating and distributing your IP, the Office of Research Services (ORS) can help.

Non-commercial distribution of IP

Even if you want to give your IP away, we will advise on an approach to ensure no one else tries to sell it. We can also craft user agreements to protect both the creators of the IP and the university from liability in addition to:

  • Suggesting partnership routes.
  • Making introductions.
  • Helping to secure funding for disseminating research results (e.g. through a community-based organization).

Commercial exploitation of IP 

We manage major commercialization paths, such as the licensing of technologies and the creation of spinoff companies. While the choice between the two is usually fairly clear, it is based on a complex set of factors, with commercialization strategies decided on an individual basis. Factors to consider include: 

  • industry
  • market
  • nature of the technology

Many funding streams related to commercializing IP are available. In most cases, access to these funds is restricted to projects managed by us. We are also directly involved in writing grant applications, commercialization and IP protection plans, providing supporting documentation and ensuring that deliverables are met.

IP development programs:

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada) Idea to Innovation Program—with granting cycles four times a year, the program helps businesses commercialize new concepts. The mandate of this competitive program is to accelerate pre-commercialization research that will lead to the adoption of a new technology by a Canadian company. The involved application process includes sections requiring information on an IP protection and commercialization strategy. We assist researchers with the writing component as part of the grant requirements.
  • Industrial Research Assistance Program—provides innovation and funding services for businesses to increase economic development for companies.
  • Ontario Centres of Excellence Market Readiness Program—helps researchers advance to the next stages of commercialization by turning valuable research into a marketable product or service.

Spinoff/startup company

The terms spinoff and startup company do not have any formal legal meaning. However, a spinoff company implies it was created by taking assets (e.g. IP) and putting them into a distinct entity (e.g. a small company) for the originator. In addition:

  • The term startup is fairly straightforward, as it indicates a new entity.
  • University spinoffs are created with IP owned by the university, which has generally been assigned by faculty and students.
  • Since faculty members own the IP they create in the course of their research, they may also start companies based on the outcomes of their research, acting independently of the university. In addition, companies may be started by faculty or students based on products or concepts that are completely independent of any university research programs.

Regardless of how a company is founded, we offer resources and advice to help start businesses and/or connect you to entrepreneurs who can provide: 

  • facilities
  • inventors
  • legal and business development advice
  • market research resources
  • pitch programs