Frequently Asked Questions

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below.

If you still have questions, you can contact us at:

Phone: (519) 824-4120, Ext. 58878
Email:, or visit the Our People area for individual contact information.
Research Innovation, Building 92
50 Stone Rd E
Guelph, Ontario  N1G 2W1

How can the Research Innovation Office help me?
We can help you with protecting your intellectual property, growing your business, connecting with industry and communicating your work.

What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is a work or invention that you have the rights to and can apply to receive a patent, copyright, trademark or other for. At the Research Innovation Office, intellectual property is typically a result of research done at the University of Guelph. You can learn more about the University’s intellectual property policy by visiting the Office of Research Intellectual Property Policy page, often signed by the Research Innovation Office on behalf of the University.

What is the Research Innovation Office?
The Research Innovation Office is a service hub for turning an idea, innovation or invention into reality. We have the people, resources and tools to help you create, collaborate and commercialize research for your benefit and that of the community, government and industry. Learn more about what we do.

When should I contact RIO?
Contact the Research Innovation Office as early as possible. If you are developing a proposal, we can help to connect you with industry and government partners and help you to develop a knowledge mobilization plan. Before you conduct patent or commercialization activity, your first step should be to report your invention or work. If you have a great idea you think should be on the market and you aren’t sure what to do next, you can contact us and/or fill out a “Report of Invention” form.

Are patents the only way to protect my IP?
Patents are one way to protect your invention. Each invention and situation are different. You should contact us to learn about protection options for your IP.

Do I need to report my invention to RIO even if I don’t wish to use your services?
Yes, RIO still needs to review the terms of the funding used to create the invention. For works subject to copyright, there is no need to submit a report of invention.

If there is revenue from my invention, how is it shared?
For inventions, 50% of revenue net of direct expenses (like patent costs) is provided to the inventors. For copyright, 75% of revenue net of direct expenses is provided to the inventors.

What happens if I assign my IP to the University?
Our professionals will work with you to understand the IP and do an initial evaluation based on two questions:

  1. Is it likely to be protectable (via patent or otherwise)?; and
  2. Does it address a valuable market need?

If the answers are probably yes, we will support the expenses of protection (such as patent costs), attempt to find a partner (or work with your start-up company), negotiate license agreements and manage the relationship until agreement expiry.

What happens if I don’t wish to assign my invention to the University?
Our professionals will simply review the terms under which funding for the research was provided and, if there are no restrictions, you may proceed with commercialization independently.

What is Technology Transfer?
Technology Transfer is the process through which your idea or invention is converted from a discovery into a product or service available on the market. The early steps of that process (preparing the opportunity for a commercial partner) can be done with the Research Innovation Office (RIO), and include protection of intellectual property, identifying market applications and identifying a commercial partner. The later steps (developing a product or service and making sales) are performed in collaboration with the commercial partner (which may include a start-up company). Learn more about our steps for Technology Transfer.

What is the University’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy? Can I own my invention?
The University’s Policy on Intellectual Property can be found on the Office of Research website. For those who are subject to the UGFA Collective Agreement, the terms on Intellectual Property can be found in Article 52 of the Collective Agreement. In summary, creators of new IP may assign ownership to the University or they may choose to retain personal ownership, subject to the terms of the funding used to develop the IP.

A company has asked me to sign an NDA before I even speak to them. What then?
We generally discourage signing a NDA as the price of having a conversation. Every NDA is a legal agreement that may last for years, and it becomes a burden to manage many at once if most don’t lead to a research relationship. It may sometimes be necessary, but it should be an exception rather than a rule.

How do I initiate a NDA?
We have templates available on our Forms and Templates page, and can arrange for signatures. We can also review draft NDAs from third parties. Please contact

How do I initiate an MTA?
We have templates available on our Forms and Templates page, and can arrange for signatures. We can also review draft MTAs from third parties. Please contact

What is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?
MTAs govern the transfer of proprietary materials (for example genetic material and cell lines) to third parties. They provide the terms of use for a material; Biological materials (or their parts) can replicate themselves, so the MTA is used to limit the recipient’s use. For example, they can’t send it to others or commercialize it without permission. They also limit liability: Experimental materials have risks, and so the recipient is expected to use them at their own risk. These agreements are most often signed by us (RIO) on behalf of the University.

When do I need a Confidentiality Agreement or Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)?
NDAs are used to protect the exchange of confidential information between two parties. For example, this may be required when developing a plan of work for a project with a company where confidential information must be exchanged to develop the plan. NDAs must be signed by someone designated to represent the University such as the Vice President, Research, or their designate, such as the Executive Director of RIO.

When do I need a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?
MTAs are most typically used when transfer biological material (such as cells, plasmids, plants, viruses and antibodies), or some other materials (potentially hazardous or proprietary material) to or from another institution or a company.

How can I get involved as a mentor or workshop facilitator with Accelerator Guelph?
Contact us at for more information. You can learn more about Research Innovation's commercialization support program by visiting Accelerator Guelph.

How will the Research Innovation Office help me find potential industry partners?
We have industry liaisons that direct industry partners to the correct expertise at the University of Guelph to address their research inquiry. Industry Liaison staff help companies access the University’s research capacity and facilitate the development of collaborative projects with its faculty.

What Licensing Opportunities do you have available?
Check out a list of the University of Guelph’s list of licensing and collaboration opportunities.

How do I start a company?
Accelerator Guelph is specifically designed to help researchers start and grow their business. The program will help you explore, build and grow your product and business for sustainable success in the market. You can learn more about Research Innovation's commercialization support program by visiting Accelerator Guelph.

What is Accelerator Guelph?
Accelerator Guelph is a workshop and mentorship-based commercialization support program designed specifically for researchers who want to create and grow Agri-Food businesses. Learn more about the Accelerator Guelph program.

What are the funding opportunities for me to develop my technologies and products?
There are avenues of funding available from both federal and provincial programs and industry partnerships. The Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance Gryphon’s LAAIR program is one example of funding opportunities to support the commercialization of research.

What is Gryphon’s LAAIR?
Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to the Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) is a program funded by OMAFRA and the U of G through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance designed to support the commercialization of research findings. Similar to Dragon’s Den, researchers pitch their ideas to the industry and they select promising ideas for funding. Learn more about the Gryphon’s LAAIR program, showcase and pitch competition.

What is Knowledge Mobilization?
Knowledge mobilization is the two-way exchange of information between researchers and decision-makers; it can help move research knowledge into action.

What makes a good knowledge mobilization plan?
A good knowledge mobilization plan is one that shares the right information with the right people in the right way at the right time. Elements of a strong knowledge mobilization plan include a clear identification of your audience, consultation or engagement with end users, evidence that they want the knowledge you are trying to share and an effective, tailored communication strategy. Our knowledge mobilization staff can help to develop and review your knowledge mobilization plan; contact a knowledge mobilization manager today!

What services does the Knowledge Mobilization Unit offer?
RIO staff can provide feedback on your knowledge mobilization plan and help to develop, review and edit knowledge mobilization products. We provide training in knowledge mobilization and plain language communication, and host events, workshops and other initiatives for knowledge exchange between researchers and decision makers, such as our Policy Fellowship program, “State of the Science and Practice” workshops and white papers, stakeholder engagement and science communication events.

Why should I develop a knowledge mobilization plan?
Knowledge mobilization promotes a two-way flow of knowledge between researchers and end-users of research (in government, industry or the community). Research on knowledge uptake shows that much of the evidence published in scientific journals is never used to inform decisions. By developing a knowledge mobilization plan, you are helping to move your research into action, maximizing the benefit of that knowledge for government, communities and industry.