Evidence of meeting #61 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was universities.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lawrence Hanson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Innovation, Department of Industry
John Knubley  Deputy Minister, Department of Industry
Mark Schaan  Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry
Alison McDermott  Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Department of Industry
Konstantinos Georgaras  Director General, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Corporate Strategies and Services Branch, Department of Industry

10:30 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Corporate Strategies and Services Branch, Department of Industry

Konstantinos Georgaras

We rely on a number of databases, including the World Intellectual Property Organization's, to pull together this data. In fact, I'll refer to the number of Canadian universities filing in the United States. In 2014, there were 550, approximately.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

How did you tease that information out?

10:30 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Corporate Strategies and Services Branch, Department of Industry

Konstantinos Georgaras

The individual offices from around the world contribute their data to the World Intellectual Property Organization. That's the United Nations body for intellectual property.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

If they have bothered to submit it, then, you can get it. If they haven't, you can't.

10:30 a.m.

Director General, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Corporate Strategies and Services Branch, Department of Industry

Konstantinos Georgaras

That's correct. Now, a very important issue here also depends upon the IP ownership. Some universities will file in the name of the institution. Others will file in the name of the researcher. That becomes a little more challenging to pull together.

When we try to understand the value of the metrics, some of these metrics need it to be understood that there are—

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

I appreciate that. I think you mentioned very clearly that the metrics are weak. I don't want people to look at these things and think these are strong numbers, when I believe they are not.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

We're going to move on to Majid.

Just for your reference, bells have been delayed to 11:05. The vote is at 11:30.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you. You've done a great job. I have a quick question.

In your opening remarks you stated that you only focus on universities. Do you have any data or information you can share with us on any type of the following partnership models: universities, colleges, businesses, and governments? We are trying to look at how we can expedite commercialization. We know that in the colleges, applied research and partnering with businesses recently has been very successful. Right now, we are not considering it, and I didn't see anything in this report. I'm not saying you excluded it. I just want to know whether you have any input on that issue.

10:35 a.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Department of Industry

Alison McDermott

We are quite interested in studying the level of interaction that's taking place. For example, working with some of our stakeholder groups, Polytechnics Canada and CICan, we can probably get you some information about the levels of activity and partnerships that take place. It's more a question of tracking activities that take place than of getting a sense of what an overall baseline at a national level might be. This is an area in which we have an interest in doing a better job of metrics tracking. The focus for today being on intellectual property protection meant that the focus wasn't so much on colleges, because they tend not to—

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

I'm going more from a technology transfer side. I know time is limited, however, so we'll come back to you.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

There is a great degree of information regarding the number of patents filed by universities. Is somebody tracking the number of such patents that are actually commercialized?

10:35 a.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

We have a number of metrics that we continue, and to Alison's point, the challenge of getting at the right metrics in the intellectual property space is a hard one. The number of patents filed is only one indicator. We have licensing revenue, for instance, that comes into the institution.

However, to Alison's point from earlier, licensing revenue often doesn't tell you a complete story either, because you can tell how much the university has earned from it, but that's not necessarily a full indication of whether or not that was the best value you could have gotten out of the intellectual property. There may have been a race to license as opposed to a race to bundle.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

We are not talking about the amount of revenue earned here. We are talking about the number of patents actually being commercialized.

10:35 a.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

Licensing revenue is a good indicator of that, in part because licensing suggests that someone's paying you for the use of the intellectual property, which means it's actually in application. In terms of the degree to which you can then actually look at use, it would vary by the type of intellectual property. In trademarks, for instance, there are searches, and then your freedom to operate would vary enormously depending on the intellectual property zone.

The heat maps—as they were, about activity and collaborations—are an indication that can often give you a sense, because you know who the commercial actor is and then you can do the digging as to what the actual value is.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Thank you.

Earl, do you have a question?

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Perhaps. Frank talked about metrics and so on. The ratings that we see—second in technology and technological and economic value with the OECD, and so on—are all international rankings that have come.... I was with the minister in Germany, and we had a chance to talk about the actual investments. Quite frankly, we hear things about dollar figures and so on, but in the past we were putting the same dollars into research as Germany was on GDP and per population.

The problem of course is when business comes in and asks, where are we going to jump in? We've just heard it. We have issues with each of the provinces having their own jurisdictions, and then the universities within them. We still have six time zones. We have all of this, quite frankly, even off the draw, so I think that's another part we need to take a look at. The dollars are there and the research is there, but too often it seems we're just checking off the box to say we did a study, instead of saying how we innovated and commercialized.

Those are some of the things we'll be looking for. If you're able to give us information on that as we go through the study, or if there's anything you could quickly respond to now, at least it gives us a direction that we could travel in.

10:40 a.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

A superquick response would be that those commercialization and innovation outcomes and the weak performance were really at the heart of the innovation and skills plan. The IP strategy is a part of that partly because we recognize that one of the tools in getting to better outcomes is more sophisticated use of intellectual property by our firms. We often have invention, but we don't often get the rent that comes out of that invention. That's one of the things we know we need to focus on.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Frank, you have the last one.

May 16th, 2017 / 10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

My question relates to the Bayh-Dole Act in the States. That came about because the Americans found that they had an awful lot of IP stuck in their universities, and they were looking for ways to get it out.

As you mentioned here, they had some obligations, particularly disclosure. We fund our universities to the tune of over $1 billion, with zero strings attached. I'm not necessarily looking for royalty sharing, but have you considered looking at a forced request for disclosure tied to this funding? That's my first question.

The second is, have you done any type of study on the Bayh-Dole Act that you might be able to share with us, what value it has brought to the American economy, and why they brought it in?

10:40 a.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Department of Industry

Alison McDermott

There have been a number of studies on the Bayh-Dole Act. Overall they're not incredibly conclusive, as mentioned, about the.... A lot of things happened at the same time, so there aren't a lot of studies that would conclusively point to the Bayh-Dole Act in itself as being the factor responsible. There are many people who think that it is an important factor, but it's one of those things that's hard to tease out specifically.

We're actually quite interested in these questions. I would add a caveat that a lot of the IP rules are tied up with universities and their collective bargaining agreements. These are relatively hard things to change.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

What about the disclosure part—the disclosure of who's patented? I don't think that's tied up.

10:40 a.m.

Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Strategic Policy Sector, Department of Industry

Mark Schaan

There is a transparent registry of patent filings that does have the disclosure. The only other point I'd put on the disclosure is—and Alison and I have been talking about this in the context of the IP strategy—there have been a number of initiatives that Alison pointed to, including the centres of excellence for commercialization and research, for instance, where a CECR like MaRS Innovation has a disclosure requirement within their member institutions that gets disclosed to MI. MI then bundles, works on that IP, and figures out how best to get it into a commercialized market.

We are looking at some of those important mechanisms for who are you disclosing to, not just a patent registry, but potentially, whether there is a receptor on the other side that can help really bring full value to that intellectual property.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

And help you collect the metrics that you need specifically....

10:40 a.m.

Director General, Program Coordination Branch, Department of Industry

Alison McDermott

One of the things we're doing is that we have just been been surveying. In 2016 we undertook a survey of universities and colleges with respect to issues around IP, technology transfer, the work of the technology transfer offices. We're just compiling that data, and disclosure is one of the issues that was on there, so we'll likely have more information to share with the committee as we do the follow-up and put that data together, but a large number of universities have their own policies on disclosure.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Thank you very much to our Department of Industry officials for coming.

Before we break, I just want to mention that we have the minister coming in on Thursday. Next Monday we have another technical briefing, so we'll have the Department of Industry, but we also have CRTC coming in that day as well.

If we could start getting in preliminary witnesses for both studies, we might be able to actually use the first to start witnesses or at least the following one. If we can actually start to try to give preliminary witnesses, that would be great.

Thank you very much to our officials for coming in, and great day, guys.

Thanks. We're adjourned.