Innovation York positioned as launch pad for commercialization

The Markham Convergence Centre

Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché announces the development of a new suite of commercialization and industry liaison services under the umbrella of Innovation York.

Commercialization and industry liaison services at York University in the past have been delivered via two units: the Intellectual Property & Research Agreements unit (IPRA) within the Office of Research Services and an industry liaison unit called Innovation York located at the Markham Convergence Centre. IPRA supported commercialization activities and research agreements, whereas Innovation York focused primarily on developing relationships between York faculty members and small-medium enterprises (SMEs) within the York region. The arrangement created a difficult environment for faculty members and industry to navigate.

The Markham Convergence CentreThe Markham Convergence Centre

Following an environmental scan of best practises in Canadian universities, the division of the VPRI developed a plan to combine and expand upon the services of the two units under the unifying banner of Innovation York. The “new” Innovation York will provide increased support and enhance coordination of the commercialization activities and the development of relationships between academic researchers and industry.

“I am pleased to announce an expansion of services under the umbrella of Innovation York. The unit aims to provide an integrated suite of services to the York research community, in order to facilitate research, translate research outcomes, and continue to develop a culture of industry-engaged scholarship,” said Haché.  “We value the research partnerships we have made throughout the past year and hope to continue to further develop our existing partnerships and new ones, both in York region and within the broader global community.”

Robert Haché head shotRobert Haché

Under the leadership of Sarah Howe, the new Innovation York will set out to create a strategic office within the division of the VPRI that supports the interaction between faculty members, trainees and industry in a multitude of ways including, the management of agreements, the facilitation of innovative research partnerships and internship opportunities, commercialization of intellectual assets, and the support of entrepreneurship and start-up acceleration activities.

As the new commercialization and industry liaison office for York University, Innovation York provides services to faculty members, trainees, and industry within four service streams:

    • Agreements – Innovation York will manage the agreement process on behalf of researchers and York in order to effectively facilitate research projects and commercialize intellectual assets.
    • Industry Liaison – InnovationYork will initiate and foster relationships betweenYork faculty members, trainees, and industry, in order to create actionable research projects infused with industry-research dollars.
    • Commercialization – Innovation York will work with faculty members and trainees to assist them with commercializing their intellectual assets, in order to maximize the social and economic impact.
    • Entrepreneurship & Start-up Acceleration – Innovation York will provide accelerator space within the Markham Convergence Centre for faculty and trainee start-up companies, in order to provide a professional place of business.

In order to ensure that this suite of services is robust and effective, Innovation York will enlist the assistance two key external partners: MaRS Innovation and VentureLab.

MaRS Innovation (MI), an organization that commercializes some of the key research breakthroughs from 16 of Toronto’s top universities, medical institutions, and research institutes. MI selects key discoveries fromYorkand in collaboration with Innovation York, advances their commercialization path through industry partnerships, licensing arrangements and spin-off companies. MI leverages its assets, along with government funds and other member resources, to develop and commercialize these high-potential technologies.

VentureLab is the regional innovation centre within the York region. Innovation York and VentureLab work together to support faculty and student entrepreneurs as they incorporate and grow startup companies. In addition, the two organizations work together to create innovative research partnerships between academic researchers and VentureLab clients.

The new Innovation York aims to build on these existing partnerships and work to provide broad opportunities for faculty members and trainees to obtain regional, national, and global industry support for their own academic research and commercialization opportunities.

For additional information, please contact Sarah Howe, director, Innovation York, at or ext. 20579.