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 patents.

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

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

We'll go with four more questioners, then, and then we will go back to the motion.

Is that agreed?

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Mr. Harris.

May 17th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary Centre, AB

Is there even time for this?

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

No, Mr. Richardson. There was for the motion, but not for debate.

Mr. Harris.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

I apologize, and thank you to everyone for sitting patiently through that.

Ms. Beaudry, you mentioned public funding of patents and you said that the quality of citations is greater. Were you talking about five patents or five years? Perhaps you could expand on that.

10:05 a.m.

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

Catherine Beaudry

It is not very clear in my graph, but you begin to see a drop in citations after about five patents.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

You mentioned the importance of public funding. Could you tell us some more about that? What kind of public investment are we talking about? Does it only affect small and medium-sized businesses or universities. In what areas does public funding really help?

10:05 a.m.

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

Catherine Beaudry

Public funding has an exponential effect on the number of articles produced and the number of subsequent citations. The bigger the investment, the more students are paid to do the research and the more often large research groups are created, which results in further developments or a broader network. The more people involved, the significantly greater probability of citations. The curve goes down because there is not enough money to pay students. But then the increase you see is more or less exponential. There is a negative spiral when there is not enough money to pay enough students or fund enough research, but then there is a snowball effect when the research is funded.

What I mean, in a nutshell, is that you have to have a minimum amount of money if you want to produce enough quality research.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

You need to give it a kick start.

Certainly, if we put too much money in, there ends up being waste. I think this touches a larger issue that we have in Canada, not necessarily related to IP but to how, if the supports aren't there, we're starting to fall behind in PhD students and the number of people going for that extra level of education so that they can further their academic careers and get jobs afterwards that are at their skill set and level. Certainly this is worthy of looking at further.

We've heard from several witnesses—one witness in particular—about looking at a situation like Nortel's, in which all the IP was sold off. That's not subject to an Investment Canada review, whereas if Nortel as a company had been sold off with its IP, it would have been.

Do any of you have any comments to make about whether we should be looking at strengthening IP protections in that regard?

10:05 a.m.

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

Dr. Catherine Beaudry

If you don't have a Canadian company that can make use of these patents, then they might as well be sold to someone who can actually use the patents and create value that will eventually benefit Canadians. If we just stop the selling of these patents and nobody does anything with them, then they're actually wasted for the world.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you, Madame Beaudry.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Dan Harris Scarborough Southwest, ON

We definitely don't want to see that—

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Now we go on to Mr. Richardson for five minutes.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm delighted with this panel today. It and the contributions you make are very encouraging for the future of our country. This is wonderful, particularly the development and commercialization of the products you're speaking about. One of them you talked about today was the BlackBerry. These things are fabulous. We all have them here. They seem to be everywhere.They must have sold millions of them around the world.

Mr. Inwood, your university and some of your graduates must be pretty proud of all that.