The round table organized by the International Law Research Program (ILRP) of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science aimed to identify and evaluate emerging mechanisms to leverage intellectual property (IP) rights to strengthen Canada’s innovation performance. Two topics were at the centre of discussion of this second round table.

The first topic was the use of sovereign patent funds (SPFs) as an innovative mechanism to support
and promote domestic innovation industries. The discussion led to the following considerations: the purposes of an SPF should take into consideration country-specific advantages and the overall government strategy on IP and innovation; and the legal and governance structure of an SPF would need to be carefully designed to address potential confict with international trade and investment law rules.

The second topic focused on ways to improve IP awareness and training to meet the growing demands and needs of Canadian entrepreneurs in specialized IP fields. The following proposals were made:

  • in building IP awareness, we need to develop creative ways of teaching students about IP;

  • IP awareness should be broadened to include dissemination of IP knowledge in business schools, communities and areas of the economy where a critical IP link can be identified;

  • early stage innovators and entrepreneurs need adequate training on global IP strategy and risk assessment to be able to successfully scale up and globalize their businesses; and

  • non-lawyer innovators and intermediaries at technology transfer offices need more sophisticated IP knowledge.

  • Oonagh E. Fitzgerald was director of international law at CIGI from April 2014 to February 2020. In this role, she established and oversaw CIGI’s international law research agenda, which included policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, IP law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

  • Bassem Awad is a senior fellow and was previously the deputy director of International Intellectual Property Law and Innovation at CIGI.