NSERC first issued an IP Policy in 2001. In recent years, both universities and companies have raised concerns related to this policy. For more information, see Reasons for Review.
In response to the concerns expressed by the community, and in order to determine just how widespread those views were, NSERC consulted its academic and industrial communities in the summer of 2008 through an on-line survey. The survey consisted of a number of questions on issues related to ownership, licensing and publication, with ample opportunity to provide additional comments or further explanation.
The survey was sent to all university VPs Research and Directors of Industrial Liaison or Technology Transfer Offices, university researchers chosen for their experience in the commercialization of their research, industrial representatives from a broad spectrum of companies already partnering with NSERC and a limited number of IP Policy experts in various public sector organizations. The companies chosen were a mix of large, medium, small and spin-off companies operating in various sectors.
Out of the 237 individuals who were contacted, 218 agreed to participate in the survey and 175 responses were received for an overall response rate of 80 percent. The sector breakdown for the responses was 54 percent from the university community, 43 percent from the industrial community and three percent from the public sector respondents.
Respondents, while anonymous, were asked to characterize themselves by type of organization (university, industry, government or other), position and sector. Industrial representatives were also asked about the size of their company and if their head office was located in Canada.
The survey results and additional comments were provided as input to an Expert Panel. This Panel, which had been established to provide recommendations to NSERC on the possible revision of its policy, had been consulted in the design of the survey. The Panel, whose membership included representatives from the academic (Senior Administration, Industrial Liaison Offices, researchers experienced in commercialization of their research) and industry stakeholder communities, met November 26 and 27, 2008 and recommended that NSERC’s IP Policy be revised.
NSERC has met with CIHR and SSHRC representatives to discuss the possibility of developing a harmonized Tri-Council Policy. While those Councils are interested in such an approach and are willing to pursue this in the future, it is recognized that significant work will have to be done to consult their representative communities and to ensure that issues specific to their communities are identified and properly addressed in a Tri-Council Policy.
The recommendations made by the Expert Panel were approved by NSERC’s Governing Council at the March 2009 meeting. There will be a six month period of overlap, until December 1, 2009, during which time research agreements submitted to NSERC may conform to either the previous or new policy, to give participants a chance to adapt. After December 1, 2009, however all agreements must contain the mandatory elements outlined in the new IP Policy.