Evidence of meeting #32 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was patent.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Gay Yuyitung  Business Development Manager, McMaster Industry Liaison Office, McMaster University
  • Scott Inwood  Director, Commercialization, University of Waterloo
  • David Barnard  President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Manitoba
  • Digvir Jayas  Vice-President, Research and International, University of Manitoba
  • Catherine Beaudry  Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical and Industrial Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal , As an Individual

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

I agree. Who funded those surveys? What happens if you're not able to continue on?

10:15 a.m.

Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical and Industrial Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal , As an Individual

Dr. Catherine Beaudry

I'm not from Statistics Canada, so I can't actually give you the nitty-gritty of the process, but I believe there were five ministries or agencies that were funding it. Once the biotechnology strategy was abandoned and moved toward more science and technology, there was no longer money to fund those surveys.

I think that's what happened, but I would ask Statistics Canada, if I were you, because I'm not qualified to answer.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

I think we should probably add StatsCan to the list. Those have been some of the real, hard figures we don't often get in this type of situation.

It has been interesting to hear from the universities about the number of patents we see coming out of Canada and then actually being delivered as products on the floor for Canadians. I come from a manufacturing town. Tool-and-die/mould-making is very successful in Windsor because we actually have the owners living in our community.

I'm curious about this. Do you think that foreign ownership with headquarters in the United States has an impact on the actual delivery of products to market? Does it have an influence? I think it does.

I know the mould-makers and tool-and-die designers. They live in our communities and they make the decisions about where things are going to actually be built. Some of our patents end up going elsewhere.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

You're at five-and-a-half minutes. We're going to have to stick with only your opinion, Mr. Masse—

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

That's all that's required.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

Can't we use Mr. Richardson's, sir?

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

—unless, of course, Mr. Albrecht wants to find that out as well.

Mr. Albrecht for five minutes.

May 17th, 2012 / 10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, that's really not the direction I was planning to take.

I'm not a regular on this committee but I, too, have found this committee very encouraging.

I'm sure that as a representative of the region of Waterloo, along with Mr. Braid, you would expect us to champion the University of Waterloo and some of its achievements. I'm going to refer to that a bit later, but I want to read part of a speech by Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur, the president of the University of Waterloo, which he gave in Saudi Arabia less than a month ago. He was musing about the balancing of research and academics, instruction and commercialization, and the value of co-op education.

By the way, I'm reading from a PlayBook, which is a great tool developed in the region of Waterloo. I hope you all have one. If not, they're great value, excellent.

This is Dr. Hamdullahpur speaking: In the 1980s, Mike Lazaridis was an undergraduate at Waterloo when he came up with the idea of the Blackberry. Rather than push him to complete his degree, his entrepreneurial minded professors encouraged him to develop the concept commercially. The result: Research in Motion was born and has created 17,000 net new jobs in facilities around the world.

He goes on to acknowledge the current challenges, and then he goes on to say: It is typical of Waterloo's culture that our inventor-owned intellectual property policy allows students and staff to retain the intellectual rights to their inventions. The policy makes the lines between the university, business and industry even more porous and leads to productive partnerships and a solid record of commercialization. More than 75 high-tech spinoffs have been incorporated to commercialize technology developed at the University of Waterloo by our faculty, students, and alumni.

He goes on to talk about the more than 700 high technology enterprises, including Research in Motion, Google Waterloo, OpenText, and so on. Anyway, you get my point.

My question follows along the line of some of the previous questions in terms of the commercialization part. Mr. Inwood, you commented about how the focus is industrial solutions.

I've been present at the University of Waterloo at different times when they've considered partnerships with an industry that comes to the University of Waterloo for help in the research and development of a particular technology—and not necessarily even communications technology. For example, I remember at one point being there when they were doing research on a better light standard that absorbed the impact of crashes, to protect lives. It was counterintuitive to me to see a university doing that. Another one we recently participated in together was the development of a very lightweight car frame.

I'm wondering if you could highlight some of those examples where the commercialization aspect, as you said, has to be picked up by private industry, but the private industry certainly benefits from the access to the university environment.

If you could highlight one or two examples, that would be great.

10:20 a.m.

Director, Commercialization, University of Waterloo

Scott Inwood

Right now, we have a new Institute for nanotechnology and that's a burgeoning area. We've spent quite a bit in creating infrastructure to support those faculty members, and there are innovations coming out constantly in that space. We have one at the moment—a nanoparticle that can encapsulate nutrients and pesticides, and deliver water right to the root of plants. This slow-release technology mitigates some of the problems you have with over-applying fertilizer. Twenty-five per cent of fertilizer runs off into our streams and aquifers and contaminates water.

This kind of innovation could have a big place in the world. Think about trying to feed the world's population and the impact this could have. It's that kind of innovation that we're working on right now. We are trying to position ourselves to license it to a Canadian company that could be a receptor. Or we could be looking at creating a start-up company that could build a Canadian capacity to do that kind of research and implementation. That's an example of a cutting-edge technology that we're working on now, and I'm sure my colleagues in other institutions have similar examples.

At universities, we see a lot of really early stuff, and we can only invest in it so long and hold that place. We really need the private sector to step up and do something with it.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

The accelerator centre and Communitech are great examples of how industry and research departments can come together and provide solutions. I hope we can replicate that across the country. I know we already have, but that model needs to be replicated many times over.

Thank you very much.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you, and my thanks to the witnesses.

We will suspend for two minutes.

We'll come back in public and then we'll continue with Mr. Harris.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Folks, we're back in. We'll go to Mr. Harris first and then to Mr. Regan.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

I have a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

Would you please explain to the committee why it is that Mr. Harris's notice of motion does not appear on our agenda for today?

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

When somebody serves notice, they don't have to put in on the agenda. Once they've served it for 48 hours, they can move it at any future meeting.