Federal government commits $90 million to boost intellectual property support for startups

Communitech, MAIN, New Ventures BC, Innovate Calgary, and Springboard Atlantic all secured funding.

The Government of Canada is investing $90 million to a group of five organizations over four years to help startups with access to intellectual property (IP) support.

On Monday, Minister of Innovation François-Philippe Champagne announced ElevateIP funding over four years to Springboard Atlantic, Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec (MAIN), Communitech, New Ventures BC (NVBC), as well as the governors of the University of Calgary in support of Innovate Calgary and Economic Development Lethbridge.

ISED established the national IP strategy in 2018.

The ElevateIP program aims to help business accelerators and incubators provide tools for Canadian startups to understand, manage, and leverage their IP. Launched in Budget 2021, ElevateIP is managed by federal agency Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) and part of the government’s ongoing National Intellectual Property Strategy. ISED established the national IP strategy in 2018.

Communitech received $38 million of the total $90 million ElevateIP funding. It will be collaborating with regional delivery partners Invest Ottawa and North Forge Technology Exchange, the latter of which is focused on Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as Canada’s Tech Network to deliver the IP funding. The hub will also be working with several IP groups including Intellectual Property Ontario, the Innovation Asset Collective, and eCampus Ontario.

Originally focused on the Kitchener-Waterloo region after its founding in 1997, Communitech has since expanded its mandate to support startups across Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The tech hub hasn’t been immune to the tough market conditions impacting startups across the country, laying off 10 percent of its workforce last month.

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NVBCs mandate is to develop entrepreneurship and innovation in British Columbia’s startup tech ecosystem. It runs the annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition that offers education, coaching, and over $300,000 in prizes. Since its inception, NVBC claims that the winners of its flagship competition have gone on to raise more than $300 million in financing and create 2700 jobs in the province.

A spokesperson for NVBC declined to disclose the amount of funding it received from the collective $90 million investment. With this ElevateIP contribution, it will work with Innovate BC as the primary delivery partner for a project that is set to be announced in the first week of January, according to the spokesperson.

Based in Halifax, Springboard is a member-based organization created to grow Atlantic Canada’s innovation economy through collaboration among post-secondary institutions across the region. It is part of the Atlantic IP Initiative that is expected to create training opportunities throughout the region.

The Atlantic IP Initiative programs will be delivered through a series of regional collaborators and program staff, with an expected launch date early next year to run until 2026.

In addition to the work Springboard does with its university and college network, the organization said the investment will enable it to provide direct support and expertise to incubators, accelerators, and startups.

“We see this as a natural progression for our organization as many companies that will benefit from the support either started or are linked in some way to our member network,” a spokesperson for Springboard told BetaKit. “We’re just extending that pathway of support.”

Springboard noted it is still working out the details of its agreement with ISED, but that it will take “a few months” to hire the additional talent needed to run the initiative and expand its programs.

Created in 2016, MAIN’s mission is to support, develop, and implement projects aimed at boosting the Québec startups ecosystem. A spokesperson for the organization told BetaKit that this ElevateIP investment will have a significant impact on Québec startups by allowing local accelerators and incubators to develop, acquire, and access more resources and skills to “create a first line of support for Québec startups on IP-related matters.”

The initiatives that will be created or supported through this funding will be announced when MAIN’s contribution agreement from ElevateIP is finalized, according to the spokesperson.

Innovate Calgary is the innovation hub and business incubator centre for the University of Calgary. It is working with Economic Development Lethbridge to develop programs and establish partnerships designed to build access to IP expertise across Alberta.

These investments are the latest in Canada’s efforts to ensure that Canadian businesses have the best possible IP resources through IP awareness, education, tools, and IP legislation.

Since the launch of its national IP strategy, the federal government has since made several other IP-related commitments.

Earlier this year, Minister Champagne announced the recipients of the Indigenous Intellectual Property Program grant, which is also part of Canada’s IP strategy. The Native Women’s Association of Canada, Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office, Ulnooweg Education Centre, Haida Gwaii Museum Society, and the ​​Mawi’Art: Wabanaki Artist Collective received a total investment of $116,665 to help Indigenous communities in Canada protect Indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions.

Featured image courtesy Communitech.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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