VP Joel Liederman: MaRS Innovation, Canadian Research and the Commercialization Test

Joel Liederman, vice-president of business development and physical sciences

Joel Liederman, MI’s vice-president of business development and physical sciences

Joel Liederman, MaRS Innovation’s vice-president of Business Development and Physical Sciences, was quoted in a National Post article, published August 13, probing whether Canadian research is passing the commercialization test.

Here’s an excerpt:

While academics have often been accused of being disconnected from the real world and consuming themselves with the theoretical, it’s hard to imagine they would be able to get away with squandering funding dollars on things that make them go hmmm, particularly in light of the hyper focus on fiscal prudence.

Indeed, those who are intimately involved in attempting to bridge the commercialization gap agree that the old system of leaving university professors to their own devices had long ago been shelved in favour of a more judicious approach.

Joel Liederman, vice president of Business Development and Physical Sciences at MaRS Innovation, says there’s no doubt that much of the R&D being performed in Canada never makes it past the patent stage, but not because its origins were founded on theory instead of commercial need.

“That doesn’t exist anymore,” says Mr. Liederman. “People in academia are looking to solve problems and the reality of the dearth of funding is such that the only problems that they’re going to get funding to solve are those that have commercial potential.”

Mr. Liederman would know. MaRS Innovation and its private-industry partners are directly responsible for deciding the fate of research being done at the academic level by determining not only the longevity of its commercial viability, but also its ability to maintain a firm grip on any intellectual property (IP) on which that viability is anchored. If the ideas being presented have commercial potential and protect-able IP, MaRS Innovation will see to it that they get the funding required to get from the discovery stage to the development stage. Over the past three years, the organization has undertaken 10 such initiatives and intends to double that number by next spring.

MaRS Innovation is one of 11 Centres of Excellence for Commercialization Research (CECR) established by the federal government to bring together industry and academia.

Visit the National Post’s website to read Dan Ovsey’s article in its entirety. Please note that depending on when you’re accessing this news item, the complete article may be behind a pay wall.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.