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Getting university IP to market: How Canada falls short

This is the 27th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

The Canadian university system costs about $25 billion a year. The total income for all Canadian universities from licensing their intellectual property is around $50 million. Subtract the cost of managing that IP and you’re left with a net income of only $15 million. Getting technology to market is clearly not a big income stream for the typical Canadian university.

Those numbers come from The Way Ahead, Meeting Canada’s Productivity Challenge, by Tom Brzustowski, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. While the book is a few years old, the overall trend illustrated by those numbers hasn’t changed. However, Brzustowski also quotes one of our past contributors, Doyletech’s Denzil Doyle, who puts these numbers in their proper context. According to Doyle, the IP income to universities represents only 2.5 percent of the new sales generated by products based on it. Do that math and you arrive at $2 billion — $2 billion in annual sales for the Canadian economy. That isn’t an insignificant sum.

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Championship: A rising tide floats all ships

This is the 26th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

When we spoke back in June with Jon Bradford of Springboard, he made the valid point that the vision and drive of a few dedicated people is more important to the success of a startup accelerator than its location. Ottawa entrepreneur and community champion Scott Annan lives and breathes this philosophy. The founder of Mercury Grove and Network Hippo has set out to prove that, while location doesn’t matter, Ottawa nonetheless has significant advantages that can be levered to its advantage.

Last week, we spoke with Scott about his efforts to launch in Ottawa this fall a startup accelerator with a number of other private and public sector stakeholders. He talked about what this program hopes to achieve, the unique strengths of the Ottawa market and how the accelerator’s “hyper-local” approach makes it unique. Today we conclude with his thoughts on how this kind of initiative benefits everyone involved, what else it needs to be successful, and the roles its various stakeholders must play.

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Championship: Don’t count Ottawa out

This is the 25th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

Scott Annan is no stranger to the Ottawa startup community. The founder of software development and web consultancy Mercury Grove and social utility Network Hippo fits the mould of what we describe as a champion. In addition to his regular involvement with various organizations and events around town that help nascent entrepreneurs get their technology to market, he hosts DemoCamp and opens up Mercury Grove’s HQ as a co-working space.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott announced that he and a host of other stakeholders in the Ottawa technology community will launch this fall a new incubator and accelerator fund that will provide up to $25,000 in seed financing to eligible participants. Five to 10 startups will be accepted into the first intake of the four-month program, which will operate out of the Mercury Grove office.

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Championship: Back to school

This is the 24th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

A couple of moons ago, we talked about how “entrepreneur” is often a four-letter word on the university campus. Too many schools fail to appreciate how Web 2.0 has democratized innovation for the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and make the mistake of assuming it’s only engineers or physics students who can come up with the next billion-dollar idea.

These outdated perspectives are further aggravated by student and faculty cultures that take a dim view of capitalism, scorn profit as a motive, and emphasize formal theory over practical, hands-on projects.

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Championship: Making the most of the juicy leftovers

This is the 23rd article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

Last week, tech heavyweights from around the world lined up to bid for Nortel Network’s portfolio of more than 6,000 telecommunications and web-related patents. When the dust settled, the portfolio had been sold for five times the opening bid and at least twice as much as analysts had expected.

Feisal Mosleh, vice-president for acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures, put the Nortel sale in context for MarketWatch.

“Since the market took off in the last eight years or so, intellectual property went from being an unused asset in the corner to a prime financial asset that can be traded,” he said, adding that, “there is no shortage of capital for the right invention. It’s one of the most differentiating aspects of business today.”

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