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Unveiling the inventions

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Canadian universities and research hospitals are commercializing more of the inventions coming from their laboratories. They are also capitalizing on those with the highest potential via spin-off companies, creating 50 of them in 2003 and 2004 alone.

Universities and research hospitals unveiled 1,432 inventions in 2004, up 26% from 2003. They also received nearly 400 patents for these new technologies. At the end of 2004, 50% of the patents they held in Canada had been licensed, assigned or otherwise commercialized, compared with 35% at the end of 2003.

As of the end of 2004, universities and their research hospitals had created 968 spin-off firms. They cover many industries and focus on high-tech inventions such as engineering and medical devices manufacturing and computer systems design. One in three spin-offs was incorporated from 1995 to 1999; 64% of them are still going concerns in their early active stages. In 2004, 33 universities and hospitals provided space to 87 start-up companies. In 2003, 25 institutions provided space to 74 start-ups.

Sponsored research funding totalled $5.0 billion in 2004, of which 68% went to institutions in Ontario and Quebec. Those two provinces accounted for 57% of the inventions disclosed in 2004.

Prairie universities received 18% of sponsored research dollars, unveiled 21% of the nation’s inventions and accounted for 26% of patents issued. British Columbia’s institutions also overachieved, using 10% of total research funding and generating 17% of all inventions. Atlantic Canada’s institutions account for 7% of all spin-off companies created to date.