Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Research and the Transit of IP

The Ontario Expert Panel on Intellectual Property has recently convened discussion sessions intended to unpack and answer the questions of their mandate. 

Ontario, like many other jurisdictions around the world, is wanting to achieve more outcomes from the investments made in basic research. This is reasonable. Research and innovation policy discussions over the past couple of decades (at least) are concerned with how best to leverage the country’s research capacity into positive social, economic and cultural outcomes.

There are of course several issues with any model that seeks to enable more direct return on investment in basic research, chief among these is that there is seldom a straight and single path to commercialize an invention. And, the aims of science (and here I mean the entire research enterprise across all disciplines) is to create knowledge and freely share this. This is at odds with creating value in the economy.

Still, Canada – and Ontario – would do well to leverage the platform we have: world leading basic science facilities, excellent applied research and experimental development capacity, particularly in the Technology Access Centres, various innovation intermediaries and economic development agencies, and a multicultural population which is suitable for launching products and services into any country.

Key here is ensuring we can create a structured receptor capacity to support the transit of IP from idea to invoice. The logic model for Capacity and Contribution among research performers, which I have previously discussed, is one way to look at how we can better knit together the various system actors and enable them to play to their strengths.

I look forward to seeing what the IP Expert Panel puts together in December.

Research-Innovation Capacity and Contribution Logic Model


  1. Robert

    I enjoyed your post.

    I might take issue with the underlying assumption of your statement, "wanting to achieve more outcomes from the investments made in basic research" as being reasonable. Basic research, by its very nature, is meant to be exploratory, often going down paths that result null outcomes. And, not all basic research should or could lead to inventions. All result in IP in some manner (article, a creative work, a new method ...) The narrowness of the focus on what is a science model seems to forget that a great outcome of research is teaching the next generation of citizens about the research process, creating new knowledge or challenging older assumptions, and to be critical and thoughtful.
    All the best

  2. well said, and I agree. Not all basic research will be commercialized. It is likely better to state that the creation of value in the economy can be tangible or intangible.