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Getting the deal done: Unlocking innovation from Canada’s universities

One of the most important experiments taking place within Canadian universities is not in a laboratory or clinic. The outcome of this experiment will impact Canada’s future prosperity. It has the potential to improve our health and safety, protect our environment, and make our businesses more productive and competitive. The goal of the experiment is to make Canadian universities the best at moving new discoveries to market. This experiment takes place within university technology transfer offices (TTOs). Without any dominant national policy, each office is testing different policies, operations, and strategies in the search for ‘best practices’. Technology transfer is still much more art than science, but University research spin-off companies such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, Amgen, and Genentech, demonstrate the stakes involved. For decades research output has been measured by the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. This view is evolving as universities are recognized as critical drivers of knowledge-based economies. These “entrepreneurial universities” are measured by new research outputs such as patents and start-up company formation. TTOs are expected to be the catalysts within this new role. Technology transfer is the point at which ivory-tower research begins the path to job creation and economic stimulation. It is where government and academia meet the private sector.