Guide to Research Partnerships with Canada’s Universities

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We are in an era where discoveries made anywhere can disrupt markets everywhere. As a result, Canada’s ability to turn research into products, services and scalable businesses quickly will increasingly determine our country’s competitiveness. 

Success in this area requires Canada to have both a world-class fundamental research system and the mechanisms to mobilize the outputs of that system. Research partnerships are an important way to mobilize the talent, discoveries and expertise that fundamental research creates. Compared to other G7 countries, Canadian universities have the second-highest percentage of research funded by the private sector. In 2015-16, businesses invested more than $888 million in research at Canadian universities. However, in the face of robust global competition, there is a national imperative to strengthen our competitive advantage by further capitalizing on the benefits available through university-private sector partnerships. 

In response to that imperative, universities from across Canada have become active participants in the work of the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER). The Roundtable works to make Canada more competitive and prosperous by fostering collaboration among businesses, universities and colleges. This guide to research partnerships is intended to form part of BHER’s research partnership toolkit. Our hope is that this guide helps businesses understand what constitutes a research partnership and what to expect during negotiations. The guide also contains a term sheet template, which may prove useful during negotiations. Although the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities prepared this guide, it is intended to provide an overview that will be largely applicable to research partnerships at all Canadian universities.