Trent University Commercialization Policy and Framework
In 2019, the Ontario government established the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property to develop a strategic approach to generating, protecting and commercializing intellectual property (IP), including IP that stems from university research. The Expert Panel released the Intellectual Property Action Plan in July 2020. One of the primary commitments of the Plan is clarification of the commercialization mandates for postsecondary institutions. This resulted in a mandate from the Ontario government that each publicly assisted university and college post, on their websites, a Commercialization Framework that demonstrates commitment to the management and protection of IP with a view to maximizing commercialization opportunities, protecting Ontario interests, and strengthening the Ontario economy.
The Framework was posted publicly to meet the requirements of the Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework (CMPF) from Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU). The creation and approval of a commercialization policy for the University was Phase 2 of the CMPF..
The purpose of the Policy on the Commercialization of Research is to define the approach to generating, protecting and commercializing Intellectual Property (IP) with regard to research conducted at Trent University (the University). The Policy on the Commercialization of Research is posted here: Leadership & Governance | Research Policies | Commercialization of Research.
This Policy applies to all Intellectual Property generated through research conducted at, or under the auspices of the University, involving University personnel, students, premises, resources, services, facilities, and/or equipment.
All universities in Ontario are required by Ministry of Colleges and Universities to have an approved commercialization policy, and to publicly post the policy once it has been approved.
The Trent University Faculty Association’s Collective Agreement (TUFA-CA) defines “intellectual property” as “any result of intellectual or artistic activity, regardless of format”
Intellectual property is protected by law; in Canada this includes patents, copyright, industrial designs, trademarks, and trade secrets. Notwithstanding this protection, much of the research conducted at Trent is freely shared by our researchers to advance knowledge and serve the public by contributing to basic science, informing public policy and debate, or contributing to the intellectual commons. We value and affirm such contributions as these are central to our mission as a public institution. At the same time, we recognize Trent’s potential to serve the public interest by having some of our research stimulate commercial economic activity. This framework confirms Trent University’s commitment to support the commercialization of IP stemming from university research activities.
1. A commitment to the management and protection of IP
Trent University is committed to the cultivation, management, and the protection of Intellectual Property in a manner that best supports commercialization, innovation (social and/or technological), and entrepreneurship by researchers at Trent. The University aims to cultivate, manage, and protect IP, especially where doing so will:
- provide benefit to Ontario and to Canada
- strengthen and enhance our relationships with partners
- bolster economic activity in the communities of Peterborough and the Kawarthas, Durham, and the eastern Greater Toronto Area
- reward our inventors for their creativity and provide opportunities to take inventions to market
- provide opportunities for students and postdoctoral fellows and further encourage and incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship
- enhance relationships with the University's sponsors, partners, licensees, and receptors
- invest in our students as future contributors to Ontario's economy
For faculty members, the IP commitment is outlined in Article IX of the Trent University Faculty Association Collective Agreement.
For graduate students, the IP commitment is outlined in the Guidelines for the Use and Ownership of Intellectual Property Developed by Graduate Students at Trent University.
2. Defined roles and responsibilities
The Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) is the primary administrative department responsible for the provision of services to support the cultivation, management, and commercialization of IP at Trent University.
The Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Centre (ESIC) is responsible for providing information, education, programming, and support for innovation (social and/or technological) and entrepreneurship activities and skills development.
Ownership of intellectual property lies with the researchers. Researchers who wish to leverage innovative ideas should inform the ORI, both to avail themselves of assistance and in recognition of the University’s first right to carry out the development of intellectual property towards commercialization.
3. A commitment to increase IP capacity through IP Education and Awareness
Trent University, through the ORI and ESIC, is committed to increasing IP capacity by providing:
Education on the potential benefits of IP disclosure, data management, and commercialization including online resources:
- Workshops and other customized training sessions on IP cultivation, management, and protection
- Access to community and industry partners, to connect researchers to external partners for the purposes of innovation and the commercialization of IP
- A pipeline for innovation, entrepreneurship, and skills training for students, staff, and faculty
- Pitch competitions, hackathons, and other events to foster connections and promote skills training
- Access to entrepreneurial skills training and start-up support
4. Invention disclosure
The University is committed to supporting innovation, diffusion, entrepreneurship, and the cultivation, management, and commercialization of IP. Through education and capacity building, the University seeks to support and empower researchers to protect IP in pursuit of innovation, diffusion and/or commercialization of their ideas.
Faculty members and graduate students have an obligation to disclose new IP that is developed with the use or support of university resources; however, researchers have no obligation to seek intellectual property protection. The ORI aims to provide information, education, and resources to all researchers towards the cultivation, management, and protection of IP. Additionally, the University seeks to provide advice surrounding the benefits and opportunities that can accompany disclosure and exploitation of IP for the purposes of commercialization and innovation.
For faculty members, disclosure is outlined in Article IX of the TUFA Collective Agreement. For graduate students, disclosure is outlined in the Guidelines for the Use and Ownership of Intellectual Property Developed by Graduate Students at Trent University. Federal guiding policy on commercialization of intellectual property.
5. Guidance to provide a net benefit to Ontarians
Trent University’s commercialization activities are guided by the principle that such activities should provide a net benefit to Ontario and Canada. Researchers should engage with the ORI if they believe aspects of their research may constitute an invention that may be protected using various mechanisms (e.g., patent, license, open access). Inventions from academic discovery are typically in the early stages of development and require a significant investment before they are ready to be diffused or brought to market. Intellectual property protection can provide the necessary incentive for a company to pursue such a project. The University may assist with the legal protection process and work to identify outside development partners in industry and community.
6. Guidance regarding institutional engagement within the innovation ecosystem
Partnering enables researchers and Trent University to leverage expertise and resources that complement our mandate and help us achieve a higher level of impact. Trent University’s ORI works with its partners and collaborators to accelerate commercialization by connecting researchers with various organizations within the region to create collaborative opportunities for Trent’s faculty, staff, and students. Trent’s innovation ecosystem partners include:
- Cleantech Commons at Trent University is a Canadian hub for collaborative clean, green, low- and zero-carbon, and sustainable technology research, innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship.
- A consortium of five leading Colleges and Universities from the Greater Toronto Area, the Environmental and Related Technologies Hub District will develop the region’s clean, green, sustainable technology sectors through research, academic programming, and commercialization of advanced technology.
- The Innovation Cluster supports determined, innovative entrepreneurs in the formation and growth of technology-driven companies in the Kawarthas
- Ontario agency that will provide intellectual property supports and services to help businesses and researchers innovate and grow.
IP Legal Services
Annual Commercialization Plan
In compliance with the Ontario Commercialization Policy Framework, Trent University is required to post an Annual Commercialization Plan (ACP). The Year 1 Annual Commercialization Plan follows:
Institutional Approaches to Research and Innovation and Public Statement on the Annual Commercialization Plan
Trent University is committed to the management and protection of Intellectual Property (IP) including IP that has, or has the potential to have, commercial value. This is demonstrated through the Policy on the Commercialization of Research, which was drafted in 2022 and approved in 2023.
Trent regularly conducts research in partnership with industry to help address industry specific problems and challenges. These projects and collaborations provide significant benefit to Ontario and to the University, including opportunities for IP with commercialization potential, student training, access to proprietary materials and resources, as well as funding for equipment. Additionally, industry funded research can offer a built-in avenue for licensing and commercialization of research outputs. As part of this commitment to partnerships, in 2022, Trent has signed multiple research and innovation MOUs with Ontario based companies.
As a primarily undergraduate university, Trent recognizes a need to collaborate with a wide array of intermediaries within the research and innovation ecosystem. In 2022 we hosted a team from OCI and OVIN on campus to build relationships and explore opportunities to work together on activities related to research and innovation. Trent has renewed an important MOU with the Innovation Cluster Peterborough and Kawarthas, a local incubator, to receive support for partnership development; entrepreneurship, education, networking, and start-up incubation. Additionally, our partnership in the EaRTH District was renewed with the addition of Fleming College, increasing our collaboration with the Ontario college system both locally, and in the eastern GTA. Furthermore, we continue to move ahead with Cleantech Commons, and emerging 85 acre research park on Trent’s Symons campus that will offer incubation, demonstration, and start-up support to companies in the clean, green technology space.
The launch of IP Ontario (IPON) in 2022 is a significant step towards supporting the research and innovation ecosystem in Ontario. The initial focus of IPON on supporting Ontario based industry partners allowed us to make recommendations to these partners and provided further collaboration opportunities. Greater engagement with IPON is expected as services are expanded directly to Ontario universities. Our activities securing multiple research and development funding sources, including government, industry, and community offer depth and breadth, in terms of funding for research and development. We continue to promote opportunities for our researchers to access funding as well as programs that provide support for knowledge mobilization, knowledge translation, and commercialization activities.
Trent’s 2023 Commercialization Policy and fresh guidelines will facilitate increased education and understanding of both the opportunities and the risk mitigation strategies of commercialization, and will bring attention to processes and supports in place to assist with commercialization and entrepreneurship activities as they relate to research and innovation.