Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

October 20, 2004

Universities join forces for technology transfer

Four southwestern Ontario universities, including the University of Guelph, have created one of the nation's largest consortia for technology transfer.

U of G, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Waterloo and McMaster University signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) to collaboratively protect and commercialize technologies deriving from research at each institution.

The MOU is the first of its kind in Canada and puts the consortium on par with the largest technology transfer institutions in the United States.

Technology transfer is a booming business: the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) reports that gross license income was more than $1.2 billion from more than 200 institutions in 2002, with another $1 billion in running royalties.

This initiative is based on a joint vision for coordination, cooperation, collaboration and commercialization - hence the working name "C4." By sharing resources and expertise, the universities hope to establish broader partnerships, apply jointly for funding opportunities and more effectively market and commercialize technologies. The C4 also has plans to extend an invitation to other universities in southwestern Ontario, further expanding the local commercialization network.

The C4 universities will benefit from having the ability to draw upon the best resources and strengths from each institution. "Working together allows us to tap into a wider talent pool by maximizing each other's areas of expertise, which makes this a significant venture for each institution," said Nils Petersen, Western's vice-president (research). "As a consortium, our probability of linking to appropriate channels in the private sector increases and this will enhance our commercialization output."

The MOU will provide a framework for enhancing the universities' ability to work collaboratively toward obtaining federal and provincial support for individual and joint projects, thereby making them more attractive to funding organizations. This is increasingly important due to the need for research contributions from widely divergent areas.

"We have long been advocating that institutions can improve their knowledge transfer by working with partners and by building on innovation strengths within geographic regions," said Paul Guild, vice-president (university research) at the University of Waterloo. "There is much to learn about how to support our campus innovators; we will learn more quickly if we do so together."

Mamdouh Shoukri, McMaster's vice-president (research and international affairs), added "moving our knowledge out of our laboratories and putting it into practical use is a primary goal for our institutions. By sharing our resources and knowledge, this consortium will allow us to be even more effective in delivering competitive advantage to industry and others."

This approach will also allow for the packaging of complementary discoveries to increase the marketability of many technologies. "The research and innovation capacity collectively represented by our four universities is being strategically positioned to better capture opportunities for knowledge transfer and commercialization," said Alan Wildeman, U of G's vice-president (research).

"Alignment of our technology transfer capacity will create one of Canada's strongest beacons for transforming discoveries into value, and enable us to collectively pursue opportunities and resources for enhancing the commercialization of university research," Wildeman said.

For more information, contact Alex Navarre, director of technology transfer (Western), (519) 661-2111, Ext. 85565, or Douglas Keddy, Communications & Public Affairs, (519) 661-2111, Ext. 87485.

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