On July 17, the Ontario Government announced the made-in-Ontario Intellectual Property Action Plan. The objective is to ensure that the social and economic benefits of research and innovation are retained within the province. Along with this announcement, the government unveiled a second round of research projects approved and supported through the $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.
The government is making commitments to strengthen Ontario’s intellectual property position through this new plan. It is intended to prioritize IP generation, protection, and commercialization. The government is also creating the Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property (SITIP) made up of members from the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property – of whom one is Professional Engineer Natalie Raffoul.
The announcement comes just weeks after OSPE sent its second letter – focused on short-term economic recovery. In the letter, OSPE recommends that the Ontario government take significant steps to support and encourage research and innovation within the province. As an organization, we believe that the economic recovery of both Ontario and Canada, depends on the ability to compete in the new economy. We commend the government for taking these steps to strengthen Ontario’s position in the innovation race and we look forward to continuing to provide expertise on this topic.
See our recommendation below:
Create a dedicated fund to support Ontario businesses in Research and Development (R&D) activities with a strong focus on local commercialization, including development and protection of Intellectual Property (IP) for Ontario and Canada’s benefit.
Ontario should encourage research and development (R&D) that will accelerate technology transfer and commercialization of innovative products, processes, and services based on immediate demand. As a result of COVID-19, many businesses are having to shift their operations, processes, products, and services, and the need to invest in research and development has become crucial to their ability to remain competitive. Another significant element to the economic success of these businesses and the Ontario economy are investments in IP. As outlined in the province’s IP Report titled Intellectual Property in Ontario’s Innovation Ecosystem, “product enhancements and services based on IP have low or even zero marginal production costs, and result in ‘winner take all’ economies”. Many barriers remain between Ontario’s research ecosystem and industry which prevent innovation. To address this, government must incentivize businesses to invest in developing and protecting IP.
A focus on dollars for systems/products/services most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis such as development of large-scale oxygen delivery therapies for emergency and long-term care, and more robust HVAC systems to minimize circulation of viruses, should be of primary importance. What has emerged already and during previous crises provides lessons for our near-term response, but also highlights the underlying and more critical need to better resource research and innovation efforts.
It is critical that the R&D and innovation dollars provided contribute to the Canadian economy long-term. Although this will benefit all businesses, it will have an amplified benefit to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), as they do not have the resources to invest in product and process development at the same rate. Through this fund, the government will minimize the risk of investing in local commercialization and will support the retention of key engineering talent throughout Ontario’s diverse R&D ecosystem, while promoting competitiveness and innovation.