I trust you have received my text in French and then you have a translation in English. Yes.
So I am going to continue in French.
My position is slightly different from my colleagues'.
As a user of patent data for my research, I have two topics to speak to you about this morning. The first deals with the use by and impact of intellectual property on high technology, especially biotechnology, companies. My second subject, which may seem less relevant at first glance, concerns the intellectual property generated in full or in part by universities. I realize that this is exactly the same topic that my colleagues brought up earlier this morning.
On the first topic, since 2007, I have been able to work with the data from four Statistics Canada surveys on the use and development of biotechnology in Canada. These surveys, conducted in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005, were combined with Statistics Canada's Business Register to evaluate the growth and survival rates of those companies through to 2009.
The role of intellectual property was evaluated in those studies. In regard to the survival of small biotechnology companies in Canada, i.e. those with fewer than 50 employees, our results show that a high number of patents increases the likelihood of not surviving through to the next year by 0.72%. In other words, extra patents reduce the chance of surviving an extra year by 0.72%. While this figure is not huge, it nonetheless suggests that support mechanisms should be established to protect intellectual property, particularly for small businesses.
As regards growth measures, our results show that the number of patents does not appear to affect businesses' performances. Rather, we have found that patents have a non-linear effect on growth. In other words, patents have a positive effect on the growth of biotechnology companies until they number about 60. Above that threshold, further patents adversely affect the growth of small businesses in the short (two years) and medium (four years) term.
We have also studied the growth of so-called “gazelle” firms, or companies that have doubled in size within four years. In this case, the presence of small and medium-sized enterprises with strong growth have a clear and positive effect on the rapid growth of those businesses. The patents of those businesses are likely “good” patents in that they contribute to their rapid growth.
It is important to note that, in order to assess the quality of the intellectual property of those businesses, the Statistics Canada surveys would have to be combined with the register of patents for Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan, etc. This type of study is, for the moment, quite complicated.
In terms of the factors that contribute to innovation, measured in terms of number of patents or number of products, as I have but seven minutes for my presentation, I will be able to answer your questions to that effect later on.
The second subject I would like to share with you this morning, somewhat related to my colleagues' remarks, concerns the corporate university. I have studied the influence of patents on scientific production as well as the tendency of university researchers in biotechnology and nanotechnology to seek patents. Which factors affect these two measures? In the first case, our studies show, as does the literature, that patents have a way of reinforcing scientific publication. There is therefore no effect of substitution between patents and scientific publications. However this strengthening effect disappears after about 20 patents over a three-year period. The effect then becomes negative and hence reduces the scientific performance in terms of publication. It seems that researchers are somehow choosing to patent rather than to publish.
In terms of the quality of those publications, an inverted U curve is observed for the number of citations obtained by these publications. Once again, this comes down to the researchers' choice.
In regard to the tendency of university researchers to seek patents, our research shows that it is primarily the fact of cooperating with private enterprise, as measured by the amount of industrial contracts awarded to researchers, that influences the propensity to seek broader patents with a larger number of claims and to obtain more citations, two indicators of patent quality.
If we consider only patents of university inventors, our research shows that the contracts have a positive effect on the number of patents granted to researchers, but that that effect becomes negative in terms of the number of citations obtained by those patents. However, public funding has a positive effect on the number of patents up to about five; thereafter, the effect becomes negative.
In other words, private financing and, to a certain point, public financing, influences the number of patents, but only public financing influences patent quality, as measured by the number of citations.
Before concluding, I would like to mention a related topic that I will not have the time to speak to. This is the leaking of intellectual property out of Canada. These are patents in which Canadian inventors have participated that are owned by foreign interests.
In nanotechnology, a little over 40% of the intellectual property leaks across our borders. This is a marked improvement over the mid-1970s, when the figure was about 60% or 70% of the intellectual property. In addition, these are the patents that list the most claims. So, theoretically, they are those with the broadest scope.
Should we be concerned? It would be useful to consider the issue across all sectors, which is what I hope to do this summer.
I have covered a lot of ground; what can we conclude from all these studies?
In terms of biotechnology companies, the race to the patent house may in fact undermine small businesses and compromise their survival. Support mechanisms should therefore be established to support the protection of intellectual property for small businesses.
It is also necessary to allow and facilitate the combination of data on businesses, their performance and the characteristics of their intellectual property, as well as to construct longitudinal studies on businesses' performance in terms of growth and innovation. Without these indicators, we will never be able to say whether or not there is an impact and whether we want to change the intellectual property protection system.
But with these indicators, we will be able to optimize modifications to the system to ensure better performance by Canadian companies.
In terms of the corporate university, the importance of links to business is well established. However, we must still be careful not to neglect the discovery research usually financed by the public sector that feeds those applications, as the source could dry up. It will also be important to examine the impact of the leaking of intellectual property across our borders, because that generates no value for Canada.
Thank you for your attention. I will be happy to answer your questions in French or in English and to provide you with more details on my research.
Thank you very much.