Six months on, Canada’s first patent collective is expanding its membership

Mark Lowey
July 14, 2021

Canada’s first patent collective has more than doubled its membership in its first six months and has awarded two rounds of grants to members to move their business strategy forward using intellectual property.

The Innovation Asset Collective (IAC) is also working on enabling member companies to access IP by purchasing “freedom to operate” licenses from companies and building a portfolio of member-relevant patents and licenses.

“IAC is currently evaluating a number of IP acquisitions, which we will continue to build on as we grow,” IAC co-founder Peter Cowan and a principal at Northworks IP, said in an email to Research Money.

Launched in December 2020, IAC is backed by $30 million from Innovation, Science and Economic Development. The collective is focused on helping companies in the data-driven cleantech sector harness their IP to scale and succeed in Canada and globally.

Origen Air, a cleantech startup based in Victoria, B.C., and a member of IAC, has access to IAC’s IP-education program, receives IP training and support, and can tap into informal mentorship and lessons learned from other companies, said Susan Blanchet, CEO and founder of Origen Air.

“All of this has been incredibly beneficial as we continue to grow. In fact, this year, we were thrilled to receive an IAC grant, which was awarded based on our success in moving Origen Air’s business strategy forward using IP,” Blanchet said.

IAC's grant program offers an average of 10 grants each quarter, ranging in amounts from $5,000 to $15,000.

Despite being a nation of innovators, Canadian companies own little of what they invent, Cowan said.

The share of Canadian-invented patents transferred to foreign firms has more than tripled, to 56 percent from 18 percent over the past 20 years, she added.

Global business growth supported through IP

U.S.-based companies accounted for 46 percent of all patent applications made in Canada in 2019, followed by Canadian firms with 12 percent of applications, according to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s most recent report.

However, the number of patent applications made in other countries (mainly the U.S.) by Canadians grew by 17 percent between 2009 and 2018, the report noted.

To become global technology leaders, Canadian companies need to understand the importance of their IP and know how to build formidable IP and data positions to support their growth, Cowan said.

IAC recently formalized a partnership with Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to encourage cleantech member companies to invest in their IP and promote the sustainable ownership of innovations created in Canada.

“Our partnership with Innovation Asset Collective will support climate tech companies by encouraging intellectual property ownership through the supply chain, and provide the training, support, and peer mentorship that is needed to get to market,” Leah Lawrence, president and CEO of SDTC, said in an email.

“We are enthusiastic that this partnership will enable our entrepreneurs to excel in their technological developments, while securing their intangible assets."

Cowan noted that IAC’s member companies have the opportunity to influence the patent collective’s portfolio of IP purchases or patent filings, but always maintain ownership of their own IP and aren’t obligated to contribute any IP to IAC.


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