Policy 7.2 - Commercialization Policy

The official version of this policy is housed with the University Secretariat.  In the event of a discrepancy, the official version will prevail. Click here for a printable version of this policy. 

Approving Authority: Board of Governors
Responsible Office: Office of the Vice-President (Research)
Responsible Officer: Vice-President (Research)
Original Approval Date: January 25, 2023
Effective Date: Jauary 25, 2023
Most Recent Revision Date: N/A
Previous Revisions: N/A

1. Preamble

1.1.  The University of Guelph (U of G) is a research-intensive university with a long history of high quality, 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 Province of Ontario, as part of its Intellectual Property Action Plan, has mandated that postsecondary institutions implement a Commercialization Policy to articulate a commitment to generate, Commercialize and protect Intellectual Property in a way that provides a net benefit to Ontario and its people.

2. Purpose

2.1.  The purpose of this Policy is to articulate U of G's commitment to Commercialize and protect Intellectual Property that is generated from its research programs, and to provide guidance to faculty, staff and students on education materials and resources available to help encourage the creation and Commercialization of Intellectual Property in ways that benefit Ontario and Ontarians.

3. Jurisdiction/Scope

3.1.  This policy applies to all members of the University of Guelph community as well as guests and visitors to campus. This policy does not amend or negate duties and obligations to and of the University as stated in other University policies or in collective agreements between the University and employee groups. 

4. Definitions

4.1.  “Commercialization” and “Commercialize” means the patenting, marketing, manufacturing, sale, distribution, licensing, sublicensing, transferring, granting of rights of use or leasing of Intellectual Property or products or services covered by, claimed by, or incorporating Intellectual Property.

4.2.  “Industry Liaison” (IL) connects companies and U of G Researchers for their mutual benefit and to help meet industry, environmental and societal challenges. The IL team within RIO 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.

4.3.  “Intellectual Property” means any result of intellectual or artistic activity and includes, but is not limited to works, tangible research property, software, databases and database layouts, Inventions, industrial or artistic designs, trademarks, trade names, domain names, integrated circuit topographies, know-how and trade secrets, whether or not registerable or registered or protected under the law.

4.4.  “Invention” means the rights associated with any patentable or potentially patentable idea, discovery or know-how and any associated or supporting technology that is required for development or application of the idea, discovery or know-how.

4.5.  “Knowledge Mobilization” (KM) is a process that supports translating knowledge into use by the wider community in ways less reliant on licensable Intellectual Property. KM staff on campus 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.

4.6.  “Personnel” means one or more individuals carrying on University Activities, paid or unpaid. Personnel include but are not limited to, faculty, Professors Emeriti, staff, students, sessional lecturers, post-doctoral fellows, volunteers and adjunct faculty. 

4.7.  “Researcher” means Personnel whose University Activities include conducting research.

4.8.  “Technology Transfer” means the activities and processes used by Research Innovation Office (RIO) staff to support Commercialization of 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 Inventions and negotiating and managing agreements with third parties. RIO also provides several supports to entrepreneurs who wish to start a company based on U of G research, including licensing of Intellectual Property 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.

4.9.  “University Activities” means activities which are carried on by Personnel in the course of their employment or association with the University, or using University funds, facilities, equipment or other resources.

5. Policy

5.1.  Commitment to Commercialization of Intellectual Property and Guidance in Consideration of Net Benefits to Ontario

The University of Guelph recognizes that Intellectual Property 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 the history of U of G research for more than 100 years.

The U of G is committed to pursuing the Commercialization of Intellectual Property in ways that benefit Ontario and Ontarians, and encourages all Personnel to consider net benefits to Ontario when creating and pursuing Commercialization of Intellectual Property.

Examples of benefits to Ontario include, but are not limited to: 

  • Pursuing research relationships with Canadian companies and organizations, and those seeking to grow business in Ontario;
  • Pursuing new pathways to enable research outcomes to reach people and markets; for example via entrepreneurship and knowledge mobilization;
  • Helping Canadian companies to access Intellectual Property created at U of G;
  • Contributing to U of G’s standing as a global centre of excellence for research, innovation and commercialization.

The U of G will deliver reporting of progress, outcomes and impact of activities associated with this policy to the Province of Ontario on an annual basis.

5.2.  Roles and Responsibilities

As a research-intensive institution with partnerships around the world, U of G recognizes that there are many routes that Intellectual Property can be transferred to the public, and roles for administration, faculty, staff and students who are considering participating in these activities. The U of G’s colleges and departments also have an important role to play in encouraging Researchers to participate in the Commercialization of Intellectual Property, and in increasing the U of G’s overall Intellectual Property capacity through the training, education and support of students and Researchers.

5.2.1.  Office of the Vice-President (Research)

Research Innovation Office (RIO)

RIO offers supports to U of G researchers to protect and Commercialize Intellectual Property. This includes in Technology Transfer activities; engagement in entrepreneurship; facilitation of industry-research relationships via Industry Liaison; and participation in Knowledge Mobilization.

Research Services Office (RSO)

RSO negotiates and executes sponsored research agreements between companies and U of G. In addition, RSO supports the development and submission of applications to research funding programs;  oversees human participant and animal ethics compliance, biohazards and radiation safety compliance; and conducts national security assessments.

Agri-Food Partnership Office

The Agri-Food Partnership Office 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.

5.2.2.  Researchers

While there is no obligation for Researchers to engage in Commercialization of Intellectual Property, it is encouraged, and there are a number of ways to participate.

  • If a Researcher seeks to protect or Commercialize an Invention arising from University Activities, it must be reported to RIO whether the Researcher wishes to own their Invention or assign to U of G.
  • Researchers are encouraged to seek out education opportunities related to Intellectual Property, as described in Section 5.3 of this Policy.
  • Researchers are encouraged to consider benefits to Ontario when conducting research, working with partners and engaging in Commercialization, as described in Section 5.1 of this Policy.

5.3.  Increasing Intellectual Property Capacity

The U of G is committed to providing resources and supports to its faculty, staff and students to increase overall awareness and knowledge of Intellectual Property and its uses. A variety of approaches are appropriate, which will expand and adapt over time. 
For example, the Intellectual Property 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 Intellectual Property and related topics like patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets, and will learn to recognize the value of Intellectual Property, how to take steps to protect it and what resources are available at U of G.

5.4.  Invention Disclosure Policy

All Researchers have an obligation to report arising Inventions to the RIO prior to pursuing Commercialization, and may elect to retain ownership or assign to the U of G. Rights and obligations are described in the Policy on Intellectual Property for Researchers who are not subject to the University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA) Collective Agreement. Rights and obligations of UGFA members are described in the UGFA Collective Agreement.

5.5.  Guidance for Engagement with the Innovation Ecosystem

The U of G is committed to making additional guidance and resources available to U of G Personnel. Successful Commercialization of new Intellectual Property 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 policy, there are many external resources available to provide mentorship, education and funding. 

6. Related Policies, Procedures & Documents

6.1.  Policy on Intellectual Property

6.2.  Responsible Conduct of Research Policy

6.3.  University of Guelph Faculty Association Collective Agreement

7. Future Amendments

7.1.  The Vice-President (Research) is authorized to develop and update procedures to aid implementation of the Policy. 

7.2.  To ensure that this Policy continues to be effective, it shall be reviewed periodically. The Vice-President (Research) is responsible for initiating this review no less than every five years.