Constituting Commercialization

Academic Scientists' Encounters with Commercialization Laws, Policies, and Practices


  • Matthew Herder, PI
  • Janice Graham
  • Brian Noble
  • Tina Piper

Goals of the project

The goal of this project is to understand the two-way relationship between emerging health researchers and commercialization practices at Canadian universities. This project will measure in several ways how commercialization practices such as patenting influence the work, interactions, and values of these health researchers, and how their participation in such practices, in turn, shapes the commercialization process.

In health research, commercialization is about capturing scientific discoveries in order to make products like drugs and medical devices. Canadian governments, research funding agencies, and universities have put into place many policies to encourage commercialization. But research shows that individual health researchers - their insights and involvement - are usually the key to commercialization. Although we have a sense of why and to what degree established university health researchers participate in commercialization, we have no idea about how often emerging health researchers (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, junior clinician-investigators and assistant professors) are exposed to it, or what effects those experiences have on their research, career paths, and goals. We also do not know how emerging health researchers affect commercialization practices and outcomes. Therefore, with commercialization becoming a common component of university health research and policy-makers emphasizing the importance of mining "young talent" for commercialization, it is critical that we develop an evidence-based understanding of the dynamic relationship between emerging health researchers and commercialization. This project will use several research techniques to build such an evidence base. The results will help government agencies and universities to develop commercialization policies that are better tailored to future generations of health researchers and, in so doing, help Canadians, the would-be beneficiaries of their health research.