University of Waterloo Commercialization Framework

Key to our success at the University of Waterloo is prioritizing commercialization and entrepreneurship. We transform research from foundational queries in our labs and classrooms into practical applications for maximum impact.

Our focus on commercialization and entrepreneurship not only benefits the generation of transformative innovations, importantly, it also directly contributes to the shared prosperity of Ontario. As a crucial partner in Canada’s largest tech ecosystem, the University of Waterloo develops founders who go on to hire graduates, creating a virtuous cycle of job creation. Velocity alone has incubated more than 400 companies since 2008, creating more than 5000 jobs while the Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) provides commercialization and entrepreneurial support to Waterloo researchers.

To support a strong economy, the Government of Ontario has introduced a Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework to help publicly assisted colleges and universities move towards the shared goal of ensuring that made-in-Ontario research and innovation benefits Ontarians.  Colleges and universities are now required to provide their campus communities with a website resource that outlines each institution’s framework for supporting and advancing intellectual property (IP) protection and commercialization of research-based discoveries.  As a result, this site has been created to curate helpful tools, resources, and opportunities to help the Waterloo community develop their commercialization and entrepreneurship objectives and plan on how they will meet these objectives.

The Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON) agency of the Government of Ontario, established in 2022, will provide support by offering accessible IP knowledge, advice, and services to innovators, researchers, businesses, and entrepreneurs in Ontario.  Further, IPON will be responsible for managing and assessing Ontario’s colleges and universities Annual Commercialization Plans (ACP) that are required under the province’s Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework.

The proactive management and commercialization of IP for the socio-economic benefit of Ontario is in all of our collective interest. At Waterloo, we have been advancing these goals because of our deep commitment to them. We encourage you to reach out to us as you engage in IP and commercialization activities.

Charmaine B. Dean, Vice-President, Research and International


The University embraces a creator-own IP policy that serves to incentivize campus innovators to invest the requisite time and effort to translate their research discoveries into products, services and policies that provide societal and economic benefits to Ontario.

The Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) provides IP management and commercialization support to clients under pre-arranged terms.  It also provides IP-related advice to the campus community, including IP educational and awareness programs (as further described in Section 4).

  • For inquiries or information on IP-related matters, please contact WatCo.

In addition, the University provides a wide range of advisory programs and services to facilitate entrepreneurship and commercialization.  These are provided via various units and channels including the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and BusinessVelocity IncubatorGreenHouse and Grebel Peace Incubator.


The Office of the Vice-President, Research and International is chiefly responsible for the commercialization and entrepreneurship operations at the University and achieves the mission of this enterprise through areas and units in its portfolio.  Relevant roles and responsibilities in the Office are listed below:

  • Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International
  • Karim Karim, Associate, Vice-President, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship
  • Scott Inwood, Director, Commercialization, Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo)
  • Adrien Cote, Executive Director, Velocity
  • Mike Szarka, Director, Research Partnerships

Please do not hesitate to contact these leaders (or members of their teams) should you need more information or support for your commercialization activities.


The University provides a full suite of opportunities for IP education and awareness for researchers through various programs and channels. These programs, an important aspect of driving and supporting entrepreneurship activities at the University, include short-term courses, seminars, workshops, training programs, and online resources and supports, and are offered through various academic and non-academic departments including WatCo, Velocity, Co-op Experiential Education, the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, the University Centres and Institutes and Academic Faculties.  These programs cover topics that include but are not limited to:

  • IP protection and patents
  • Generating and commercializing IP
  • Copyright and trademark protections
  • Licensing and IP in research data management
  • Rights and responsibilities around IP

For more information on available training programs or events in the University, please contact WatCo.

Further, external opportunities for formal IP educational courses can be accessed through the following:


Under the University’s Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights, there is a mandatory requirement for members of the University to disclose IP and commercialization information directly related to their research activities, supported by the institution’s resources, but excluding personal consulting and other private business activities.  On an annual basis, concurrent with the annual performance review period, all faculty members are required to disclose their IP or commercialization activities using the Electronic IP and Commercialization Activity Disclosure form. Faculty members with no new information to report are still required to submit a ‘null’ report, which takes less than a minute to complete.

Metrics collected from these disclosures are used to meet reporting requirements from governments, including the Ontario Commercialization Mandate Agreement framework, and provided to various agencies such as ranking agencies that evaluate and rank commercialization activities nationally and globally.  Participating in the disclosure process, helps the University maintain its position as a leader in innovation and commercialization in Ontario and Canada.

Data provided remain confidential and will be used internally for reporting purposes and in aggregate for external reporting.


A significant portion of the University's research activity is linked to industry-sponsored research projects. The University pursues research partnerships with a wide range of companies, more than half of which have operations domiciled in Ontario. These partnerships confer numerous benefits to the sponsoring companies as well as to faculty and student researchers.

Research Partnerships, a unit in the Office of Research, works with researchers to negotiate customized IP and commercialization rights within industry-sponsored contracts.  Researchers are encouraged to engage with this unit at the earliest practical time to obtain advice on securing IP and commercialization rights that are equitably structured and provide benefits to both the sponsoring company and the researchers involved.

IP creators on campus have access to programs and services that can support their commercialization and entrepreneurship activities. 

Commercialization of IP is often pursued through the creation of start-up companies that are focused on resourcing, planning, and executing on strategies to bring new products and services to the market.   Naturally, most start-ups are created in our local communities and stay in Ontario for several reasons, including the province’s attractive incorporation laws, tax rates, access to a highly skilled and educated workforce and access to provincially-leveraged research and development funding opportunities.

To better understand the benefits of undertaking business within Ontario and the Region of Waterloo, please refer to the following linked resources:

We strongly recommend all researchers – faculty members and students – to partner and collaborate with regional organizations, as this will confer economic and societal benefits to our local ecosystem and more broadly the Province of Ontario.  


The University supports a deep and varied commercialization and entrepreneurship ecosystem and to find the right advisory group for your commercialization needs, please visit

The University also has specialists across the institution (e.g., in the Office of Research, Faculty of Engineering) that are responsible for engaging with regional organizations, local companies, economic development agencies, and building connections and joint research and commercialization opportunities between these entities and researchers on campus.