Site Review: Industry Canada

We reviewed the ancestor of this page about a year and a half back, but it's evolved so much since, we felt it was worth a second look.

The Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) page, developed by Industry Canada, is a huge database of resources and knowledge. Each section can be handy to just about any scientist, depending on what you're doing. But it's most useful to the entrepreneurial scientist: This page will give you just about every piece of information you need to start up your company.

The first part of the RTI page is the National Technology Index, a listing of more than 1200 licensable technologies from the public sector. Here, anyone who has invented a licensable technology within a provincial or federal laboratory, a university, or a center of excellence in Canada can list their technology, to solicit buyers or people to license it. So if you've got a new tool, system, or compound that you've patented and you want to license, this would be a good place to post it.

But if you don't have one, and you're sick of the bench, why not see what you can license from someone else? Hey, the Canadian Space Agency is looking for someone to license their patented methods for alleviating motion sickness for nonspace applications--maybe you can sell this to grad students who spend too much time staring at the "belly dancer" orbital shaker? Seriously, though, this is a good place to see what technologies are out there and might give you some ideas on marketing your own.

The second database is the Canadian Patent Database. Here, you can look up over 1,400,000 Canadian patents, for free, before you send your invention off to some high-priced lawyer to do a "prior art" search. You can search by key word and browse the patent claims to figure out whether someone else has invented it before you.

The Government Research section contains a database of all government research labs, with a description of what they do (including all sorts of interesting things at the Department of Defense), as well as a portal to the Canadian Technology Network--a database of experts in numerous fields of scientific expertise. You can volunteer to be an "expert" in their database, or you can solicit help from someone who has volunteered--either way, networking within the scientific community while solving a problem. Also in this section is the Technology Commercialisation Toolbox, a database of tips and techniques for bringing your technology or invention to market (including a Top 10 Tips for Inventors with lots of good advice). This toolbox alone has over 900 articles in it, so chances are, there's information in it that will be useful to you.

The next is the Industrial R&D Companies Directory, a directory of just about every R&D-based company in Canada. You can search the directory by industry or by location. The searches will give you a little paragraph on each company and their area of focus, a contact name, and their Web page if they have one--great information to have if you're job searching, or even if you're just looking for networking opportunities.

Finally, there's a database of information on federal funding sources for the commercialization of technology. So once you've figured out you can patent your invention, and that no one else has done it before you, you can check out their list of places you can find money to start up your business.

In short, the site is jam-packed with information. It's not very attractive, it takes a while to navigate, but it's full of really useful material.

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