The federally backed initiative aims to help East Coast startups develop their intellectual property strategies.
Springboard Atlantic, a network of universities and colleges that connects industry with academic institutions in Atlantic Canada to encourage the commercialization of research, is launching a program to help startups safeguard their ideas and innovations via intellectual property, or IP protections.
The organization’s Atlantic IP Advantage initiative will help startups in Atlantic Canada develop and implement a robust IP strategy. Program Director Niraj Shukla said in an interview there is an abundance of intellectual property being created in Atlantic Canada, but that Springboard expects many startups to benefit from access to more information, better training and financial resources to create IP strategies that will position their companies for future success.
Atlantic IP Advantage will fill that gap with training and funding for the startup ecosystem, Shukla said.
“IP gives startups a competitive advantage and positions them for early success.” said Shukla. “If they can understand how IP works and put an IP strategy in place that’s aligned with their business goals, it can strengthen their position in the market. It gives them a roadmap that helps them decide how to focus their business, and use their IP to drive new revenue opportunities.”
A team of IP counsellors at Springboard will work with Atlantic Canadian accelerators and incubators — and their startup clients — to provide information and host training sessions, as well as connect young companies with IP service providers to create IP strategies. Springboard is also partnering with the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Invest Nova Scotia, Emergence and the Genesis Centre on the program.
Startups can apply for funding of up to $50,000 and have up to 90 percent of their costs covered to develop an IP strategy. There is an additional $25,000 available to execute the strategy, also with 90 percent of the cost covered by Springboard’s program. Companies must be connected with business incubators and accelerators to be eligible for funding, and must complete an IP training program from one such support organization before applying.
“We recognize that there are different levels of IP competency at the incubators and accelerators, but we really want to establish a baseline,” said Shukla. “We’ll be working very closely with those accelerators and incubators to launch education and awareness initiatives. We will invite IP professionals to provide coaching, host working groups and seminars, and develop online resources.”
Part of Federal Program
The Atlantic IP Advantage program is part of the federal government’s National Intellectual Property Strategy, which launched in 2018 to support Canadian innovators, startups, and technology-intensive businesses. In 2021, the government created the ElevateIP initiative and allocated $90 million over 4 years to support startups with tools to leverage their IP.
Springboard Atlantic created Atlantic IP Advantage after it was selected as the delivery partner for ElevateIP in Atlantic Canada in 2022. Atlantic IP Advantage is one of five regional programs to execute IP training and funding across Canada with partnership and funding from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or ISED.
Springboard CEO Daryl Genge said that developing IP strategies is one of the biggest challenges faced by Canadian companies. The ISED IP funding is designed to address that gap and build awareness and capacity across incubators and accelerators.
“We tend to lag behind other jurisdictions around our commercialization activity,” Genge said. “And a lot of that’s related to our strategy to protect our intellectual property and exploit our intellectual property in the international marketplace.”
Aid in Hiring Lawyers
Once a company has completed one of the educational sessions from a local startup incubator, they can apply for the funding to hire lawyers and consultants to help create and implement an IP strategy, including internal controls to protect IP from suppliers, as well as more obvious steps, like filing patents.
“So that could include a startup working in medtech talking to an IP professional that specializes in the area and laying out a roadmap of their IP, doing a scoping exercise around what their actual IP is, and then digging deep into the actual searches and developing a strategy for them to protect their IP and maximize its business value,” said Shukla.
Founded in 2004, Springboard Atlantic is a network of 19 universities and colleges in Atlantic Canada that collaborates and connects industry with researchers in the academic institutions to solve problems and promote innovations which boost productivity in Atlantic Canada. The network is backed by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Advisors called Industry Engagement Professionals based at post-secondary institutions facilitate research collaborations with the private sector and help academics and industry partners navigate the startup funding landscape. The advisors can introduce entrepreneurs to researchers with the aim of commercializing new ideas and creating IP to protect innovations, as well as help develop commercial pathways for researchers and advise faculty and students on obtaining IP, copyright, trademarks and patent filing.
About Springboard Atlantic
Springboard is a member-based organization, supported by ACOA as well as our network members. The network is designed to grow Atlantic Canada’s innovation economy through collaboration among post-secondary institutions and industry.