Canada’s top universities and research institutes spent $5.7 billion on research and development (R&D), but generated less than $75 million from licensing their innovations in 2017. That’s an average return on investment of 1.3 per cent, according to the latest report from AUTM, which monitors commercialization from academic research in Canada. Institutions filed 687 patents, down from 790 in 2016 and the fewest since 2008.
The report, which tracks income from universities and research institutions, shows consistently low innovation licensing income over the past decade. The institutions’ combined annual income has never topped $100 million between 2008 and 2017. U.S. universities, by contrast, brought in US$3.1 billion in licensing income in 2017 and spent US$68.2 billion on R&D—a 4.6 per cent return on investment.
The numbers, broken down below, come one year after the federal government committed $85.3 million to get Canadians to generate more in patents and royalties off of intellectual property (IP). The report also precedes the Ontario government’s plans to form an expert panel chaired by Jim Balsillie, former Research in Motion (now BlackBerry) co-CEO, to find ways to generate more IP from the province’s post-secondary institutions.