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Commercialization Mandate Framework Policy for McMaster University


McMaster University ranks among Canada’s most research-intensive universities and is consistently ranked as one of the world’s Top 100 universities. It is our goal and responsibility to use our evidence-based knowledge to further understanding, drive change and, ultimately, advance human and societal health and well-being. Through knowledge mobilization, technology transfer and commercialization activities, we are committed to placing that knowledge in the hands of those who can put it to its best use, to maximize the social and economic benefit with long-lasting impact for the McMaster community, greater Hamilton region, Ontario, Canada and the world.

This framework outlines the university’s guiding principles and the supporting infrastructure that ensures effective management of intellectual property (IP) created at McMaster University while respecting the interests of faculty, staff, students, and clinicians at our affiliated hospitals, along with those of our corporate, not-for-profit, and government partners.

McMaster’s Commitment to Protection and Management of IP

The success and competitiveness of high-growth companies in the knowledge economy relies on access and rights to IP. A key objective in McMaster’s Institutional Priorities and Strategic Framework is to drive economic prosperity and social innovation. We recognize that IP protection of university-developed innovations is critical to our engagement with commercialization partners. These partners, including existing companies, startups, entrepreneurs and Canadian and foreign investors, are needed to transform research results into new products and services that result in social and economic benefit and impact. McMaster University is committed to providing the financial and administrative support to effectively and responsibly manage and protect IP arising from research to maximize impact to the region, the province and the country.

McMaster’s Institutional Policies and Resources

To ensure McMaster’s national and global competitiveness, the university continues to make strategic investments to enhance its research enterprise. As outlined in the Strategic Research Plan, McMaster recognizes the importance of Knowledge Transfer and Commercialization as a key enabling strategy to maximize our research impact. The commercialization of our research is governed by the Joint IP Policy that encourages a culture of innovation and promotes the dissemination of IP for the benefit of society. The Policy outlines the process for invention disclosure by McMaster researchers and resources to ensure that IP is protected and managed to maximize the potential for commercialization and proceed-sharing among IP Creators and our affiliated institutions.

The McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO), reporting to the VP Research, has the administrative responsibility for the Joint IP Policy as it relates to effective management of IP and commercialization of research results developed in the labs at the university and its affiliated hospitals. As such, MILO facilitates collaborative research with industry and not-for-profit partners and provides resources and expertise to guide researchers through the commercialization process. Institutional resources to support IP creators throughout this process include:

  • Evaluation of invention disclosures by MILO’s IP and business development professionals
  • Protection of IP with the financial support and management to coordinate with external patent agents and service providers
  • Development of commercialization plans in collaboration with IP creators, mentors, seasoned executives, entrepreneurs, and investors
  • Marketing commercialization opportunities
  • Negotiation and management of licenses to companies
  • Support for the creation of startup companies to commercialize IP
  • Formal and informal programs to support student and faculty entrepreneurs
    1. Volunteer and internship opportunities at MILO
    2. Support through The Forge and The Clinic
    3. Innovation and business courses across all Faculties
    4. Entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) program
    5. Mentor and investor networks
    6. Online resources to educate and promote on all aspects of IP creation, protection, and commercialization (Inventor’s Guide and Startup Guide).

IP may also be created as part of the academic mission, for which the Joint IP Policy does not apply. For example, IP created by students that is not a result of research shall be owned by the student(s) as outlined in the Ownership of Student Work policy. This includes IP created by students as part of extracurricular activities (e.g., student clubs) or as part of their academic course work that is unrelated to research (e.g., Capstone projects). Similarly, instructional teaching materials created by faculty members is governed by the Copyright Ownership and Policy Framework for Licensing of Instructional Material. Under this policy, instructors shall either own the copyright of teaching materials that they create independently or jointly own in the case of significant university resources used in the creation of those materials.

These policies are designed to support our faculty, staff, and students in realizing the socio-economic impact of McMaster-created IP. Regardless of the applicable policy, the university is committed to investing in enabling resources to support our community of innovators.

Defined Roles and Responsibilities for Creators

Faculty, staff and students are required to disclose to MILO their research-related creations and discoveries, through on-line invention or copyright disclosure forms or by contacting MILO. As outlined in the Inventor’s Guide, IP creators are expected to engage with MILO and potential licensees throughout the commercialization process for input related to:

  • IP protection (e.g., working with patent agents and responding to office actions)
  • Funding opportunities to further the research and development
  • Meetings with potential licensees, advisors or investors to develop commercialization plans related to the technology or product development, marketing strategies, or business plans in the case of startup companies

While the time commitment may vary and is at the discretion of the IP creator(s), typically, the most successful commercialization outcomes are a result of positive and active engagement from the IP creator(s), and a strong partnership with MILO to work together as a team to market and commercialize or promote the use of the IP.

McMaster’s Resources for IP Education and Awareness

 McMaster’s goal to increase our IP capacity shall be driven and enhanced by entrepreneurial and IP educational resources including:

McMaster’s Activities to Create Impact and Net Benefit to Ontario and Canada

Aligned with the university’s mission and vision, MILO’s guiding principles regarding research partnerships and commercialization of IP are driven by maximizing impact globally and creating a net benefit to Ontario and Canada. As applicable, the university achieves this by:

  • Hosting or participating in local and international events to make connections between faculty members and companies or other organizations located in Ontario and across Canada to encourage research partnerships and build receptor capacity for McMaster-developed IP for the retention and creation of jobs in Ontario and Canada
  • Working with Economic Development offices and Chambers of Commerce in Hamilton and surrounding cities to identify opportunities to support and attract companies in the region through our research enterprise and training of highly qualified personnel
  • Managing IP protection nationally and internationally to enable Canadian companies to capitalize on global market opportunities
  • Providing administrative support and resources to enable researchers to successfully access funds from agencies with strong mandates to create benefit for Ontario and Canada, including ISED, FedDev Ontario, Tri-Council Agencies, Ontario Centre of Innovation, Mitacs, National Centres of Excellence, federal and provincial ministries, and NRC-IRAP
  • Enhancing skills training opportunities for students through partnered research, and by ensuring the university retains the rights to use IP for research and teaching purposes, and continued ability to publish the research
  • Creating the McMaster Seed Fund to address the early-stage funding gap between proof of principle and external seed financing by investing in startup companies that are commercializing university IP to keep the IP and value of those startups in Ontario
  • Creating and providing lab and office space to enable startups and ventures to locate and grow in Ontario, including newly renovated on-campus sites to encourage research collaborations with companies and to support student entrepreneurs, as well as investment in the McMaster Innovation Park to provide incubation and scale up space for companies with strategic alignment to the university’s commercialization mandate

McMaster’s Engagement with Innovation Ecosystem

In addition to the institutional resources and networking opportunities described above, McMaster shall continue to participate in local and national innovation ecosystems to ensure impact and benefit from university-generated IP, and supports its researchers and entrepreneurs through:

  • Referrals and close relationships with regional innovation centres – Innovation Factory, Haltech, Communitech – to access the breadth of programming, mentor networks, and resources
  • On-going communications with other universities and colleges across Ontario and Canada to share and learn best practices in technology transfer and IP management, i.e., formal and informal memberships in AUTM, ACCT, ORCA, and IPON
  • Collaborating with other institutions to develop new programs and share resources that support our commercialization efforts, i.e., Proteus competition with Western, U of Windsor, U of Waterloo, U of Guelph; the Ontario Founders Network (a collaboration between entrepreneurs and Ontario universities)
  • Leveraging our national and international alumni network to attract experienced management, mentors, and advisors to support startups commercializing IP
  • Partnering with external early-stage investor groups, incubators, and entrepreneurial programs to access programming support, such as collaborating with Creative Destruction lab, connections with Angel groups
  • Expanding our network of seasoned entrepreneurs and executives through membership in organizations, i.e., C100, Canadian Entrepreneurs of New England (CENE)

Link to Plans and Policies

Link to Resources

Link to Other (External) IP Education Modules