Protecting Canadian innovation in the Cleantech sector

This article was originally published on April 22, 2021 and was updated on April 17, 2024.

4 minute read
17 April 2024


This article was co-authored by Jojo Johnson, an IPC student in our Hamilton office.

Emerging technologies to mitigate environmental impact and even remediate harm that has already occurred, known colloquially as "cleantech", represent a potentially explosive growth opportunity for Canadian innovation. Intellectual property rights, and in particular patent protection, can be an important asset for Canadian cleantech companies that can and should be leveraged as part of their business and growth strategy. Patent rights can be valuable not only in excluding competitors and soliciting investment, but even in terms of marketing. Patents can demonstrate that a company is on the cutting edge of sustainable technology.

Not only is increasing government regulation resulting in an increase in the demand for cleantech, there is also a concomitant increase in government and academic support for these initiatives. Specifically, the Government of Canada is providing funding and academic support to advance Canada's cleantech sector.

Canadian funding and academic support

For example, the Government of Canada recently touted investments of $68.2 million into 17 Canadian companies in the cleantech space. These investments were made through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a flagship independent federal foundation aimed at providing not only funding but also supporting a connected cleantech ecosystem.

SDTC is just one example of Canadian government support for cleantech. The Federal and Ontario governments also provide funding to Bioenterprise, a national network that in turn provides funding to new and growing businesses operating in agri-food and agri-technology sectors. Bioenterprise recently has launched their FoodShift program, which supports the adoption of GHG-reducing clean technologies in Ontario's food and beverage processing sector. The FoodShift Program is a green initiative to help southern Ontario food and beverage processing organizations adopt and integrate clean technologies and/or process optimization projects to improve sustainability.

What Canadian cleantech companies need to know about the advanced examination process

Although there are no restrictions on the particular area of technology, to be eligible the application must still relate to an innovation that, "if commercialized would help to resolve or mitigate environmental impacts or to conserve the natural environment or natural resources". Although no government fee is required, if the application has not yet been laid open to the public (ordinarily 18 months after the earliest filing date), then a request for early laying open of the application must also be made. While this will allow competitors to search for and read the application, the faster examination (and hopefully faster grant of a patent) resulting from advanced examination can make this a worthwhile trade-off.

The continuing development of cleantech represents an exciting opportunity for Canadian companies, with potential opportunities for growth well beyond Canadian borders. If you are interested in learning more about safeguarding clean technologies through intellectual property protection, please contact Alex Ross for more information.

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