The IP Assist program from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) offers financial assistance and a range of intellectual property and advisory services to innovative small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to help transform their innovations into valuable assets and to protect their innovations. Partner organizations, such as the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC), are also involved in administering the IP Assist program.
Broadly, the goal of the IP Assist program is to provide SMEs with funding for and access to expert IP services, and thereby help SMEs improve their understanding and utilization of intellectual property concepts to better support their business strategies.
To be eligible for the IP Assist program, a SME must first become an IRAP client. Once an IRAP client, the SME is paired with an industrial technology advisor (ITA) that guides the SME through the IRAP program, including IP Assist. For IP Assist, the ITA acts as the intermediary between SMEs and the IP professionals that provide IP services as part of the program.
The IP Assist program has three levels (Levels 1, 2 and 3), through which a SME progresses sequentially, with each level involving increasing engagement with IP professionals matched to the SME:
Level 1 – Awareness: This level provides a SME with access to IRAP’s network of advisors, resources and partner organizations to increase knowledge of IP best practices and to better understand how to leverage and safeguard innovations.
- Level 1 connects SMEs with an IP professional and involves a one-on-one IP awareness session with the professional that provides both foundational and industry-specific IP information and guidance to the SME.
Level 2 – Strategy: This level provides a SME with funding and further access to IP professionals who provide assistance and guidance on developing an IP strategy to support the SME’s business goals and to help prioritize IP actions, as well as provide the SME with valuable insights related to its technology, competitors and the IP landscape. Funding of up to $20,000 is available for Level 2 activities.
- Level 2 activities may include patent landscape searching, competitor/market landscape searching, developing an IP action plan, among others.
Level 3 – Action: This level provides a SME with funding and further access to IP professionals to help the SME execute the actions prioritized in the IP strategy developed in Level 2. Funding of up to $30,000 is available for Level 3 activities.
- Level 3 activities may include IP audits, further analysis of patent and/or competitor/market landscape search results, trademark clearance searching, among others.
It is important to note that the activities provided or subsidized by the IP Assist program do not cover certain activities including the drafting and prosecution of patent and trademark applications, for instance.
If you are an innovative SME and an existing IRAP client, reach out to your industrial technology advisor for more information about IP Assist. If you are not an existing IRAP client, reach out to IRAP to learn more about becoming an IRAP client and IP Assist.
Oyen Wiggs has assisted, and is currently assisting, several SMEs as part of the IP Assist program by providing IP services and guidance as part of the program and by preparing proposals for the program.