fb pixel


Innovation at the University of Winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg supports research and scholarship that develops and advances knowledge and recognizes that a diversity of ideas benefits society.

The University supports technology transfer that is focused on achieving the best outcome. This could include patenting and/or commercialization activities.


Educate yourself: Planning for innovation, protecting your IP, and potentially bringing products to market require that innovators know a few key things. Use this website and the Research and Innovation Office at UW as sources of information as you educate yourself.

Keep your ideas confidentialAny public display or disclosure of the results or process of the invention compromises its ability to be protected. We encourage our researchers contact our office if they may have created an invention with commercial potential and to maintain confidentiality of the invention until patent protection is in place. Forms of public disclosure include publications, conference presentations, abstracts or posters, thesis presentations, press releases, or other forms of public communication.

We recognize the need for researchers to publish their research results in a timely manner. Seeking patent protection does not generally delay publication of research results. We strongly recommend that each invention be submitted as an Invention Disclosure at least three months in advance of public disclosure to allow enough time to review the discovery and to work with an external patent attorney to draft the patent application.  A good time to disclose to our office is when the first draft of the anticipated paper is being drafted.

Terms to know

CopyrightCopyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patentscopyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.


  • new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, whether or not patentable
  • any new and useful improvement in any process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, whether or not patentable
  • software

Inventor(s) means any University Personnel who makes or develops an Invention, alone or in combination with other individuals, using, in any way, facilities owned, operated or administered by the University or using funds of, or funds administered by, the University, or in the course of their employment as University Personnel;

University Personnel includes all members of the faculty, support staff, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, undergraduate students, visiting researchers, and any other personnel registered and actively engaged in the University’s research or education programs.

Patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how - or whether - the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.

Trademarks are signs capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or "mark" on their products.

Trade secrets are IP rights on confidential information which may be sold or licensed.  The unauthorized acquisition, use or disclosure of such secret information in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices by others is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret protection.

Key Stages
  1. Setting up your Research

Often, multiple researchers—including students, post-docs and research staff—contribute to an invention and may be inventors so it is important to plan for innovation. Set the tone for collaboration vs. autonomy, how inventions will be handled, what needs to happen to protect inventions, etc. This should include a signed agreement with students and research staff.

  1. Research

Do the research! Observations and experiments during research activities often lead to discoveries and inventions or the development of software and other copyrighted works.

  1. Invention Disclosure

Invention disclosure is a written notice of an invention to the UW and it begins the formal technology transfer process. The Invention Disclosure is a confidential document and should fully describe the new aspects of the invention, including the critical solution it provides and its advantages and benefits over current technologies. Invention disclosures can be submitted to researchoffice@uwinnipeg.ca.

  1. Opportunity Assessment: How to Protect IP and Move Forward

At this stage, the Research and Innovation Office meets with the inventors to discuss options. Options could include:

  • Patent: A common legal protection method, filing of a patent application protects your IP. Once a patent application has been filed, it requires several years and tens of thousands of dollars to obtain an issued patent.
  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Do nothing: If the invention is unlikely to yield any desired results or if either party (UW or the inventors) is unwilling to take the invention further, the process ends there
  1. Rights to the Invention

IP is owned by faculty until the time of commercialization and then UW and faculty must negotiate and execute an option, license or assignment agreement for IP ownership. This is set out in the UWFA collective agreement.

  1. Product Development and Commercialization

Most university inventions are early-stage and require further research and development. The inventors, often after having started a company, typically makes significant investments of time and funding to commercialize the product or service. These steps may entail regulatory approvals, sales and marketing, support, training, and other activities.

Types of Early-Stage Investment

Venture Capital (VC)
Compared to angels, venture capitalists can invest larger amounts of money (usually millions of dollars) in a company. In exchange they tend to receive more equity. VCs also exercise control and often bring experienced management talent to help guide and grow the company. Sometimes they invest in several rounds of funding and are part of a larger consortium of investors in the company.

Angel Investing
Angel investors are typically high-net-worth individuals who have a personal interest in funding new companies. They are often willing to invest in earlier stages and with smaller amounts of money than VCs in exchange for equity. They can take passive or active roles in the start-up and typically have a longer investment horizon than VCs. To learn more about the vibrant Angel investor community in Canada please visit the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).

Government grants
Certain research grants are available through a vast array of programs. Additionally, the Government of Canada has implemented Innovation Canada, a service from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada” that provides a single access point where small and medium-sized enterprises can find high-quality, timely advice to help them innovate and accelerate their growth. SRED credits (Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program provided by Canada Revenue Agency) are also a great source of funds.

Banks do not usually participate in equity investments in new companies, but they are a source of loans, particularly for capital purchases when there is some collateral (such as large equipment)

Various crowdfunding companies enable entrepreneurial fundraising by pooling small investments from a network of individuals. A variety of crowdfunding platforms exist (GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Chuffed, Ideapros, etc.)


North Forge: UW’s incubator of record with MITACS, North Forge is an incubator accelerator and an entrepreneur community focused on science-based, technology-enabled, and advanced manufacturing start-ups.

University of Manitoba Partnership and Innovation Office: The UW has an agreement with the UM Partnership and Innovation Office that allows UW researchers to use UM Partnership and Innovation Office services like:

  • Invention assessment for commercial and technical viability
  • Patenting assistance and coordination with patent agents if required
  • Market assessment and marketing of technology to potential receptors
  • Discussion of commercialization strategies with inventors and a recommendation of strategy
  • Assistance in identifying corporate partners and with creation of start-up companies if requires
  • License negotiation if required

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)

IP Inventory Checklist (CIPO)

MaRS: From advisory services to connections to talent, capital, customers and more, MaRS offers a range of high-value services that help high-growth companies succeed. They also provide access to the MaRS ecosystem, a curated community of entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, academics and government partners.

UofT’s Resources for Startups: searchable resources, community partnerships, funding opportunities, etc.

UofT’s Intellectual Property Education Program: The IP Education Program is an accessible free, online training program designed to equip students, faculty and staff with a broad foundation in intellectual property. Registration is open on a rolling basis. If you are an entrepreneur, researcher or student, register now to learn about your IP rights, why they matter, and how IP strategies can be applied in business.

World Intellectual Property Organization’s Resources for Universities and Public Research Institutions