Among the drivers of our successes at the University of Waterloo is our commitment to commercialization and entrepreneurship. Much of our activity results in taking research from foundational queries in our labs and classrooms to high societal, technological, and economic impact.
At Waterloo, we are also committed to developing prosperity by and for our local region through commercialization and entrepreneurship. We have many start-ups born from our labs that have gone on to excel in their very own boardrooms. Velocity alone has incubated more than 400 companies since 2008, creating more than 5000 jobs. Our office is here to help you thrive on your commercialization and entrepreneurship journey.
In the following sections you’ll find tools, resources, and opportunities that can help you develop your commercialization and entrepreneurship goals. To support a strong Ontario economy, the Government of Ontario has created a new agency, Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON), which will provide Intellectual Property (IP) knowledge, advice, and services to support innovators, researchers, businesses, and entrepreneurs in Ontario. This agency was created under the recommendation of the province’s IP Action Plan.
Under the Commercialization Mandate Agreement (CMA) framework, which developed best practices guidelines for technology transfer offices at colleges and universities, Waterloo has curated these helpful resources for you to consider. The proactive management and commercialization of IP for the socio-economic benefit of Ontario is our collective interest. I am personally committed to advancing these goals. We encourage you to reach out to us as you engage in IP and commercialization activities.
Charmaine B. Dean, Vice-President, Research and International
1. The management and protection of Intellectual Property (IP)
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.
- For more information on IP ownership (including IP disclosure requirements) at the University, please refer to Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights.
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 Business, Velocity Incubator, GreenHouse and Grebel Peace Incubator.
- For more information on these advisory services, please visit innovation.uwaterloo.ca
2. Roles and responsibilities
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
- John Dick, Director, Velocity Campus
- Sarrah Lal, Director, Velocity Incubator
- 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.
3. IP education and awareness
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:
- Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
- IP Academy (a federal government initiative)
- IPON (a provincial government agency)
4. Disclosure of IP
Under the University’s Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights, there is a mandatory requirement for faculty members 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.
5. Commercialization advice and benefit to Ontario
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.
- For information on industry-sponsored research, please contact the Research Partnerships office.
IP creators on campus have access to programs and services that can support their commercialization and entrepreneurship activities.
- To find the right advisory group for your commercialization needs, please visit innovation.uwaterloo.ca
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:
- Ontario Business and Economy
- Ontario Credits, Benefits and Incentives
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce
- Ontario Collaborative Innovation Platform
- Ontario Centre of Innovation
- Waterloo Economic Development Corporation
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.
6. Engagement with the Innovation Ecosystem
The University supports a deep and varied commercialization and entrepreneurship ecosystem and to find the right advisory group for your commercialization needs, please visit innovation.uwaterloo.ca
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.
- For more information, please contact the Research Partnerships office.