IP in advanced manufacturing comes in various forms ranging from patents, trademarks, and copyright to raw and analyzed data, algorithms, industry secrets, customized techniques, and employee know-how.
NGen has established clear, transparent, and predictable IP ownership policies and licensing structures with respect both to the Background IP that project partners bring to their collaborative activities as well as to the Foreground IP arising from Supercluster-funded projects, including procedures for NGen members to request and negotiate licenses to use Foreground IP in future commercial applications.
Foreground IP is shared among participating members of project consortia according to the terms of collaboration agreements developed in consultation with NGen’s IP Manager. Wherever feasible, and as determined by IP owners, opportunities for sharing Foreground IP arising from projects with other NGen members are identified on NGen’s IP Registry. Balancing this availability is a mechanism to enable companies to recoup their investment, through licensing/sharing agreements or user fees to be paid by members who wish to access newly developed IP. Both of these considerations are important criteria in evaluating and selecting projects for NGen funding.
NGen provides direct advisory support to assist project applicants develop and implement their IP strategies. By the end of March 2021, NGen had provided IP support for all 91 project proposals approved to date.
NGen’s IP Manager recorded 194 touchpoints with NGen members including:
- 9 customized IP strategy workshops for project teams.
- 36 discussions with applicants at the pre-assessment development stage of their projects.
- 103 discussions with applicants following assessment of their project proposals.
- 30 mid-stage monitoring meetings with project teams.
- 12 meetings with teams at the close-out of their projects.
While no IP licensing arrangements have been recorded by projects to date, all contracted projects have agreed licensing obligations in their Master Project Agreements with NGen. There have been no cases in which project partners have been denied access to Foreground IP arising in their projects. Only one case has been recorded where project partners refused to enter eligible Foreground IP onto NGen’s IP Registry. There have been no IP disputes arising among project partners that have been referred to dispute resolution.
In addition to its work with project partners, NGen has also supported a number of IP education initiatives for the ecosystem more generally. In 2020-2021, NGen organized three IP Strategy workshops for NGen members with 564 registrants attending. We published two articles in NGen’s member newsletter and social media on the topics of IP strategy development and fundamental IP protections in Intellectual Property law. NGen provided advice and member survey input to MaRS and the Innovation Economy Council for their reports on IP management and commercialization published in April 2021 (https://innovationeconomycouncil.com/reports/). In addition, we entered into agreements with four IP firms to provide one-on-one support to NGen project teams for developing and implementing their IP strategies. The firms are also developing IP education and programming that will be available for all NGen members beginning in the fall of 2021.