Canada continues to perform comparatively well in terms of public research and development (R&D) spending, and produces scientific research that is well respected around the world. It is not as effective as other countries, however, in ensuring that university-generated research and its associated intellectual property (IP) can be successfully commercialized. The number of spinoff companies and revenues generated by commercialization activities is insignificant when compared to the public investment in universities for R&D.

An overarching issue that undermines the impact of universities on Canada’s innovation performance is the lack of a clear, agreed-upon articulation of the role that universities should play, beyond training in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines, in our innovation economy. An IP & Innovation Strategy should address whether and how universities can provide better support to industry’s challenges in an innovation economy.

  • Karima Bawa is a CIGI senior fellow with expertise on the commercialization of university research and development and capacity building in intellectual property strategy for Canadian innovators. Prior to joining CIGI, she was the chief legal officer and general counsel for Research In Motion (BlackBerry).