Intellectual Property Ontario finds permanent CEO in Dan Herman

Herman previously led ISED as executive director of innovation policy.

Dan Herman has been tapped to lead Intellectual Property Ontario (IPON) as CEO.

Herman is IPON’s first permanent CEO. Since the intellectual property (IP) agency was launched in 2022, the CEO role was held on an interim basis by Peter Cowan. BetaKit was first to report Cowan would lead the agency, and in January, Cowan left IPON and was named president and CEO of Innovate BC, taking over from Tomica Divic.

Herman previously served as the executive director of innovation policy at the Government of Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED). He is also the co-founder of the Centre for Digital Entrepreneurship and Economic Performance, better known as the DEEP Centre.

The new CEO has also been actively involved in Ontario’s efforts to boost its IP. In addition to serving on IPON’s board of directors, Herman was previously the provincial government’s special advisor on the creation of a centralized IP resource and a member of the province’s IP expert panel. 

That panel was led by Jim Balsillie, chair of CCI and former co-CEO of BlackBerry, and its report, which contained initial recommendations for strengthening the commercialization of IP in 2020, led to the eventual creation of IPON.

“With Dan’s breadth of experience and expertise related to innovation and IP, combined with a truly global view of Ontario’s position in the global economy, we are very confident in Dan’s ability to lead IPON and its work with Ontario innovators to develop, protect and commercialize made-in-Ontario innovations,” IPON board chair Karima Bawa said in a statement.

RELATED: The federal government wants to address Canada’s intellectual property woes, but is its strategy paying off?

IPON claims to have seen “higher than expected demand” for the IP-related services and support it delivers across the province. Last year, the agency launched a $2-million pilot program that funded ten post-secondary institutions to improve their support and resources are to improve IP commercialization efforts.

In recent years, strengthening IP has been a key focus for not only Ontario but the federal government and other provinces. In January, the University of Calgary announced plans to fully launch ElevateIP Alberta, the Albertan iteration of the federal IP program, and similar programs were launched in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada in 2023.

Canada consistently lags its global peers in IP rights. In 2019, Canada was ranked the fourteenth country globally by the number of IP rights filed, and according to a Canadian Intellectual Property Office survey from the same year, only two percent of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises said they owned a patent.

Feature image courtesy Unsplash. Photo by Chris Robert.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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