Intellectual property in the postsecondary education and research sectors

Ontario is home to world-class postsecondary education institutions and research institutes. The postsecondary education and research sectors are key sources of research, innovation and commercialization that can drive our economy's competitiveness.

Research funding programs

Ontario's research funding programs invest in people, ideas and infrastructure through the Ontario Research Fund and the Early Researcher Awards programs.

Since 2016, the Ontario Research Fund and Early Researcher Awards programs have:

  • supported 1,516 research projects
  • created more than 118,000 training opportunities for highly qualified personnel
  • leveraged over $1.16 billion in federal, private and institutional funds
  • resulted in 145 spin-off companies that created 742 jobs

Research institutes

Ontario's research institutes position Ontario as a global leader by:

  • strengthening existing research and commercialization capacity
  • investing in focused research
  • supporting world-class collaborations
  • establishing cross-disciplinary platforms for researchers and industry

Since 2016, Ontario research institutes have:

  • supported 867 research projects
  • created more than 55,000 training opportunities for highly qualified personnel
  • leveraged $1.53 billion in federal, private and institutional funds
  • resulted in 71 spin-off companies that created more than 2,600 jobs

Intellectual Property Action Plan

In Summer 2020, Ontario released an Intellectual Property Action Plan in response to the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property.

Read the government's Intellectual Property Action Plan.

Intellectual Property Ontario

Intellectual Property Ontario is a board-governed provincial agency that provides expert advice, educational resources and services to help Ontario businesses and researchers maximize the value of their intellectual property and strengthen their capacity to grow and compete in the global market.

Intellectual Property Ontario will also help enhance capacity within the postsecondary education sector to increase research and commercialization outcomes.

Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework

The Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework provides guidance to publicly assisted colleges and universities to help them prioritize the generation, protection, and commercialization of IP stemming from Ontario research.

Intellectual property learning opportunities

The Centre for International Governance Innovation and the University of Toronto offer free online courses that explore the basic principles relating to the protection and strategic uses of intellectual property for competitive advantage.

A consortium led by Western University will develop a free made-for-Ontario advanced intellectual property curriculum for Ontarians considering commercialization opportunities, to help them sharpen their ability to generate, protect and leverage their intellectual property in a global context.

Terms to know

Accelerators and incubators
Accelerators and incubators support entrepreneurs to transfer knowledge and intellectual property from institutions into the economy. These intermediaries are often housed in universities, and they provide a combination of services for start-ups including:
  • mentorship
  • funding
  • networking
  • training and/or office space
Typically, incubators support start-ups entering the beginning stages of building their company, whereas accelerators advance the growth of existing companies with an idea and business model in place.
Commercialization is the process of taking an invention or scientific discovery (that is, new technology or new or improved manufacturing process) to the market.
Intellectual property
Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind and can include things like inventions, industrial designs and artistic works, such as manuscripts.
Technology transfer
Technology transfer is the process of transferring (disseminating) technology from the place where it is developed to wider distribution.
Technology Transfer Office
Sometimes referred to as Technology Licensing Offices, these offices are responsible for technology transfer and other aspects of the commercialization of research that takes place in a university or college. Technology transfer offices act as a liaison between university or college inventors and industry partners. Other public institutions, such as hospitals, may also have technology transfer offices.


If you have questions about intellectual property in the postsecondary sector or want more information, contact: