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Intellectual property commercialization is the process of transferring new technologies, in the form of products or knowledge, from the lab to the marketplace. There are various indicators to measure this process, for example: the number of institutions engaged in intellectual property (IP) management (Table 1-1), IP income (Table 15-1), number of inventions, patents and licenses (Tables 11-1, 12-1, 13-1 and 14-1), and value of research contracts (Table 8-1).

IP management infrastructure

In 2008, 81% of responding Canadian universities and affiliated teaching hospitals (educational institutions) (101) were engaged in IP management. While 88% of these universities (68) reported being engaged in IP management in 2008, only 69% of affiliated hospitals (33) were similarly engaged (Table 1-1).

There were 321 full-time equivalent employees (FTE’s) reported in IP management in 2008 (Table 2-1). Although this represents a 13% increase compared to 2007 (285), the average number of FTEs (number per institution) increased by a moderate 1%. Among the technology transfer personnel, 20% of staff had 2 years or less of experience or 3 to 4 years of experience, while almost a third had 5 to 9 years of experience (Table 4-1). A Master’s degree was the highest level of education for almost half of the technology transfer personnel (140 employees out of 327) (Table 5-1).

Total operational expenditures reported for IP management were $51.1 million compared with $41.9 million in 2007 (Table 2-1). Average operational expenditures, equal to $409,000, increased by 9% compared to 2007 ($374,000). Some 43% of total operational expenditures in 2008 were funded from institutional base funding, while a third were funded from IP commercialization revenues (Table 3-1).

Income from IP

Total income reported from IP was $53.2 million (current dollars) in 2008, while average income, at $425,500, decreased by 9% compared to average income in 2007 ($468,500) (Table 15-1). Royalties accounted for two thirds of all income from IP in 2008.

Research contracts

Total value of research contracts reported was almost $2 billion in 2008, representing a 55% increase from 2007 (Table 8-1), due almost entirely to those same institutions that reported information in both 2007 and 2008. The federal government and provincial and other levels of government maintained their respective shares of that amount (a fifth and a quarter respectively) while “other Canadian sources” (i.e. businesses and non profit organizations) accounted for a third of that total value of research contracts. Clinical trials and collaborative research and development accounted for 13% and 10% respectively of that total research contracts value in 2008 (Table 9-1).

Protection of IP

The pool of discoveries and patent applications influence the number of technologies protected. From 2004 to 2008, there were 63 universities and affiliated hospitals that filed patent applications while there were 56 educational institutions registering copyrights (Table 10-1).

In 2008, the number of new inventions disclosed to educational institutions increased by almost 20% to 1,613, mostly due to those same institutions that reported in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In comparison, there were 361 new IP disclosures for copyrights in 2008 (Table 11-1).

Meanwhile, the total number of inventions (past and new disclosures) 1  reported to be legally protected by universities and affiliated hospitals was 820 while only 19 total disclosures were protected by copyrights (Table 11-1).

There were 15 patent applications at various stages of progress per institution on average (i.e. initiating and follow-on applications), for a total of 1,791 applications in 2008 (Table 12-1). Although this represents a 10% increase overall compared to 2007, when averaged by institution, the number of patent applications actually dropped by 2%.

The number of patents issued to Canadian universities and teaching hospitals declined by a third between 2007 and 2008 to 346 (Table 12-1), while the patent portfolio held by these institutions at the end of 2008 stood at 5,908 (Table 13-1).

Commercialization of IP

University and hospital technologies are generally commercialized in two ways: they are patented or licensed to established business organizations; or new companies are spun off from educational institutions. 2 

Patents and licenses

Some 39% of the patent portfolio held by universities and affiliated hospitals 3  (or 1,436) had been licensed out, assigned or otherwise commercialized at the end of 2008, a smaller share than the one registered at the end of 2007 (Table 13-1). Half of those patents were held in countries outside Canada and the U.S.

Reporting educational institutions granted 524 new licenses and options in 2008; they executed 3,343 active licenses and options with Canadian and foreign organisations (Table 14-1).


In 2008 there were 19 newly incorporated companies launched by reporting Canadian universities and affiliated hospitals to commercialize their respective technologies (Table 17-1). This brings to 1,242 the total number of companies spun off by reporting educational institutions to date since the series began in 1999 (Table 16-1).

The regional distribution of spin-off companies remained similar in 2008 compared to 2007 (Table 20-1).