Last year, the Ontario government convened an Expert Panel on Intellectual Property, chaired by Jim Balsillie. He has long advocated for publicly funded research and other institutions to take a larger role in protecting and marketing intellectual property that they generate.

The Expert Panel, while recognizing the importance of all forms of IP, found that there is no question that patents remain the most significant. The just announced Ontario Government's Intellectual Property Action Plan is a response to the Expert Panel's recommendations. To quote from the announcement:

"The government is ... creating the Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property (SITIP), which will be comprised of the IP experts who previously served on Ontario's Expert Panel on Intellectual Property. The team will provide advice on the implementation of the Intellectual Property Action Plan, including the commercialization of research and IP in the province's postsecondary institutions and innovation centres to ensure that Ontario is open for jobs and open for business.

Together, Ontario's SITIP and Intellectual Property Action Plan will respond to the report prepared by the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property and will:

  • Work with postsecondary institutions and research institutes to strengthen mandates related to commercialization entities within their organizations;
  • Strengthen Ontario's IP literacy by developing standardized, web-based basic and advanced IP education curriculums;
  • Create a centralized provincial resource entity that will increase access to sophisticated IP expertise; and
  • Develop a governance framework for organizations supporting entrepreneurial and innovation activities, which incorporates IP considerations."

The intention is that the postsecondary, research and innovation sector will also take a leading role in Ontario's economic recovery and future prosperity. As part of its strategy to strengthen the research and innovation economy, the Ontario government is funding an additional 20 proposals that were submitted in response to the government's $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. In May, 15 projects were announced as part of the first round and they are focusing on areas such as vaccine development, diagnostics, drug trials and development, and social sciences.

"Innovation without a national IP strategy is philanthropy"  Jim Balsillie

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