Commercialization Framework

The University of Guelph (U of G) is a research-intensive university with a long history of high­quality, innovative research and teaching. Sharing knowledge with the world in a way that can positively impact lives is a key part of U of G's Strategic Framework. U of G has long embraced knowledge and technology transfer as part of its mission and purpose to Improve Life.

The purpose of this commercialization framework is to articulate U of G's commitment to knowledge and technology transfer, and to share resources and policies that are available to faculty, staff and students to facilitate the protection, management and commercialization of intellectual property arising from U of G research for the benefit of the communities we live in.

1. Commitment to Manage and Protect Arising Intellectual Property

The University of Guelph recognizes that intellectual property (IP) plays an important role in encouraging the private sector to adopt and develop inventions and innovative research outcomes from its research programs. Indeed, commercialization of research outcomes has been a feature of U of G research for more than 100 years. U of G faculty, staff and students are encouraged to consider possible impacts and benefits to Ontario's people, economy and environment when participating in knowledge and technology transfer and commercialization of IP.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

U of G recognizes that there are many routes that intellectual property can be transferred to the public, and offers a variety of supports to faculty, staff and students who are considering participating in these activities. 

2.1 Technology Transfer

All inventions arising from research activities must be reported to Research Innovation Office (RIO) whether inventors wish to own their invention or assign to U of G. If unsure whether a possible invention is ready to be reported or would like to discuss options, research personnel can reach out to speak with one of RIO's Technology Transfer Managers.

The Technology Transfer Process is a typical path from research to commercialization for inventions that are assigned to the U of G and managed with the support of RIO staff. Inventions are evaluated for patent and market potential before a decision is made to file a patent application. Technology Transfer staff also participate in marketing the invention and negotiating and managing agreements with third parties.


Note: It is important to report an invention (a novel device, method, composition or process that may have commercial utility) before its details are made available to the public. Disclosure to the public may occur by publication, public poster events, conference abstracts or presentations, and can limit opportunities for protection. A great time to report is after a first manuscript draft is developed, but before any results have been publicly shared.


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2.2 Research Partnership

Research partnerships are an important way to mobilize the talent, discoveries and expertise that fundamental research creates. U of G has maintained strong research relationships with Ontarian, Canadian and international companies, industry organizations and community groups throughout its history. U of G has a role to play in helping to strengthen the wellness and competitiveness of people, the economy and the environment with its innovative research, which is why catalyzing and stewarding research partnerships is a guiding principle within our Strategic Research Plan.

RIO's Industry Liaison Team (ILT) is dedicated to connecting companies and U of G researchers for their mutual benefit and to help meet industry, environmental and societal challenges. The ILT can provide guidance to companies on defining their research needs, make introductions to appropriate research faculty, and give advice on opportunities for leveraging available resources with provincial and federal funding programs.

Research Support Services (RSS) in the Office of Research Services helps to formalize sponsored research projects between companies and U of G. This includes entering sponsored research agreements; supporting submission of applications to funding programs; compliance with policy such as research ethics and animal care protocols; and setting up research accounts.

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2.3 Knowledge Mobilization

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is a term used to describe various activities that support the exchange of knowledge between researchers and decision-makers in government, community, and industry. It consists of various possible activities, including knowledge synthesis, dissemination, dialogue, co-creation, and evaluation. The goal of knowledge mobilization is to inform research, programs, policies or decisions to accelerate the positive impact of University of Guelph knowledge. There are resources across campus to help faculty, staff and students engage with knowledge mobilization.

RIO's KMb staff provide advice and guidance for writing and executing strong knowledge mobilization strategies, including training in foundational knowledge mobilization skills, one-on­ one support for students and faculty, and programs to help with outreach to policymakers and other external stakeholders.

The Policy Fellowship in Agriculture, Food and Biodiversity is a program of intensive meetings for senior-level decision-makers in government, industry and the non-profit sector. Decision-makers are matched with world-class researchers on the U of G campus who can address their organization's challenges and exchange ideas and knowledge.

The Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI) builds capacity on and off campus for community-engaged scholarship and knowledge mobilization by training and mentoring graduate students, brokering relationships between researchers and community organizations, supporting course-based partnered research and conducting high-impact research anchored in community priorities.

Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance is committed to "getting science off the shelf" and into the wider agri-food and rural communities. Its Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) program provides funding and resources to support KTT research and KTT mobilization projects.

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3. Increasing Intellectual Property Capacity and Guidance for Stakeholders

U of G is committed to helping its researchers, staff and students make an impact with programming and resources to increase overall awareness and knowledge of intellectual property and its uses.

3.1 IP Education Program

The IP Education Program is an online course module intended to equip students, faculty, and staff with a broad foundation in intellectual property and its general application in the knowledge economy. By taking the module, participants will be introduced to the basics of IP and related topics like patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets, and will learn to recognize the value of IP, how to take steps to protect it and what resources are available at U of G.

3.2 John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (Wood Centre)

The John F. Wood Centre at the Gordon S. Lang School of Business & Economics is committed to providing training to students and alumni at U of G so they can bring their business ideas to life. To help develop innovators and entrepreneurs, the Wood Centre offers several programs:

The Hub Incubator Program offers funding, office space and mentorship to help student start-ups develop strong business models that can be tested and scaled. The program provides up to $4,000 in funding per company and is open to start-ups that have at least one U of G student or alumni on their founding team.

The Sandbox Program teaches graduate level students the requirements of launching a social enterprise and matches these graduate level students with community organizations looking to launch their own social enterprise.

The Makerspace is a physical space on campus where student entrepreneurs can work on their prototypes. Through this space the Wood Centre hosts many workshops to support entrepreneurs on topics like, entrepreneurship 101, the basics of website design, how to design a logo, and mastering your presentation skills.

3.3 Skills for Research Impact

Skills for Research Impact is a workshop series for U of G faculty, research staff and graduate students interested in enhancing the impact of their research. During facilitated sessions, participants will learn how to successfully plan, execute and evaluate knowledge mobilization (or knowledge translation and transfer) activities.

3.4 Research Innovation Office

RIO provides several supports to entrepreneurs and founders that wish to start a company based on U of G research, including licensing of IP on favourable terms. Entrepreneurs gain access to programming, education and mentors to improve skills and increase the chances of creating a successful start-up company.

RIO offers its Advantage Workshop series of educational workshops focused on innovation, value proposition, research collaboration and intellectual property essentials. In addition to scheduled workshops, RIO's Technology Transfer Managers are available to provide intellectual property seminars upon request.

3.5 Certificate in Knowledge Mobilization

The Certificate in Knowledge Mobilization is a continuing education program offered by CESI and OpenEd which is open to faculty, graduate students and professionals in various sectors seeking to build applicable knowledge and skills related to knowledge mobilization. By completing three courses, participants gather the tools necessary to enable the efficient and appropriate dissemination, uptake and application of knowledge.

3.6 Resources

4. Invention Disclosure Policy

University of Guelph research faculty and staff have the right to own and commercialize intellectual property independently subject to any conditions of funding or may assign intellectual property to U of G. In either case, creators of intellectual property are expected to disclose inventions to RIO.

4.1 Policy on Intellectual Property (2014)

The Policy on Intellectual Property applies to research personnel and students who are not members of the Faculty Association, and describes rights and responsibilities associated with the commercialization of intellectual property arising from U of G research, including a duty to disclose.

4.2 UGFA Collective Agreement

The Collective Agreement between U of G and the U of G Faculty Association (UGFA) applies to UGFA members. Article 52 of the agreement describes the rights and responsibilities associated with the commercialization of intellectual property arising from U of G research, including a duty to disclose.

5. External Resources and Engagement with the Innovation Ecosystem

Successful commercialization of new IP requires collaboration with third parties in the broader innovation ecosystem, including companies, incubators/accelerators, investors and many others. In addition to the internal resources described in this document, there are many external resources available to provide mentorship, education and funding. The Guelph Guide to Entrepreneurship provides a calendar of events and links to many helpful resources in Guelph and across Ontario.

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6. Reporting and Continuous Improvement

U of G is committed to transparency in its efforts to support knowledge transfer and commercialization of IP, including several existing reports and publications available for review.