By Diana Senwasane, student and community engagement coordinator, YSpace and VPRI
For more than a decade, the IP Innovation Clinic at York University has been helping inventors and entrepreneurs protect and grow their wide-ranging business ventures.
Based out of Osgoode Hall Law School, the first-of-its-kind and now largest intellectual property (IP) legal clinic in Canada has provided pro bono legal support to hundreds of community members.
Recently, the clinic partnered with the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) to offer streamlined services and a more efficient pathway for faculty to bring their product or service to market.
This new partnership enhances the clinic’s ongoing contributions to the business development of dozens of startups.
Spotlighted below are three ventures that credit the clinic for helping them reach new levels of success.
Founded in 2017, NURO is a health-care technology company that uses neurotechnology to create a form of communication for incapacitated patients who suffer from conditions such as stroke, trauma and neurodegenerative diseases.
When the startup was first established, founder and CEO Francois Gand was referred to the IP Innovation Clinic to protect his intellectual property.
“This collaboration empowered us to assess and prioritize crucial aspects of our work with the aid of talented scholars, allowing for a much more intricate and in-depth organization of our IP portfolio,” says Gand.
The clinic provided pro bono patent searching that helped NURO assess the relevant patent landscape related to its technologies and helped the company begin the patent application process, resulting in NURO securing a patent and its IP more broadly.
Skygauge Robotics was founded by a trio of then-students, now York alumni, including two who were featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list: Nikita Illiushkin (BBA ’16) and Linar Ismagilov (BA ’18). Their company uses drones to create a workforce in the sky.
The drones do physical work for remote inspection and maintenance and can be used for painting, pressure washing, cleaning and even ultrasonic testing, which is used when inspecting large infrastructure like ships, bridges and piping.
The IP Innovation Clinic helped Skygauge Robotics secure their IP, which later contributed to them obtaining $3.3 million in funding led by BDC’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund.
“What really set us apart from other companies competing for funding was the fact that we had our technology patented,” says Illiushkin. “We credit the IP Innovation Clinic for their guidance and support in the IP process and the expertise of the supervising legal team who continue to advise us today.”
Indigenous Friends Association
The Indigenous-led, not-for-profit organization created by then-student, now York alumnus Alejandro Mayoral-Baños (PhD ’21) first began as an app to connect and support Indigenous youth. Mayoral-Baños turned to the IP Innovation Clinic to understand how to best protect his IP, develop essential contracts and become incorporated.
The clinic was instrumental in helping evolve the app into other projects and gain access to more funding, notably a $210,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
“Working with the clinic was a transformative journey in turning vision into reality,” says Mayoral-Baños. “It enabled me to critically navigate the complexities of IP, leading to the creation of real-life solutions that have propelled the Indigenous Friends Association forward.”
The Indigenous Friends Association now provides educational programs for Indigenous youth looking to enter the technology sector across the globe.
The IP Innovation Clinic continues to offer tailored support for inventors and entrepreneurs looking to protect and commercialize their ideas.
Backed by the expertise of the clinic and VPRI teams, these services give inventors and entrepreneurs the peace of mind that their intellectual property is protected. Clients can simplify a complicated process, avoid errors that can delay their journey to market, avoid costly lawyer or patent agent fees, and save valuable time.
Services offered by the clinic can include:
- guidance on how to identify and protect assets, best practices and information surrounding freedom to operate;
- patent searches and prior art searches;
- trademark searches;
- IP Agreement review; and
- IP Application drafting and review.
Those looking to bring their product or service to market or protect their idea can schedule free one-on-one consultations with the clinic by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.