The University of Windsor Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre (EPICentre) has championed knowledge mobilization in the Windsor-Essex community and beyond by educating students and entrepreneurs about the importance of Intellectual Property through the NextGen CTO program.
The NextGen CTO Program aims to develop the next generation of CTOs (Chief Technology/Technical Officers) by utilizing the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s Foundation of IP course. CTOs are important executive-level positions, especially in innovation-driven companies, as they lead the technology department and oversee the development and innovation of new products and services. In addition, CTOs must understand the importance of intellectual Property (IP) and how somebody can leverage IP to grow their businesses. The program isn’t just for those that seek to be the CTO of some major company. “Thinking like a CTO, whether as a student, an entrepreneur, or an employee, gives program participants the edge they need to innovate, and more importantly, protect those innovations wherever they may go,” said Paul Brereton, EPICentre Automobility & IP Program Coordinator.
The University of Windsor and EPICentre are leading IP literacy training for students and in the community with the success of the NextGen CTO program. “IP literacy is an essential skill for entrepreneurs competing in today’s innovation economy, regardless of whether we are talking about a tech company, a social enterprise, or an online storefront. Therefore, it is imperative that IP education programs are available across the ecosystem, especially for those who aspire to business leadership positions as Chief Technology or IP or Innovation Officers,” said Myra Tawfik, Don Rodzik Family Chair in Law and Entrepreneurship.
Since its inception in the Fall of 2020, the NextGen CTO program has run six cohorts, with enrollment nearly doubling with each one. The program has accepted almost 1000 participants, with University of Windsor students making up 93% of the program’s enrollment rate.
The NextGen CTO Program initially aimed to train entrepreneurs and future CTOs in this fast-growing field. The immense success of the first cohort led to increasing interest from students across the University of Windsor campus and continues to gain interest across all faculties. Faculty administrators and instructors also see the value that NextGen brings to students. As a result, the program is now integrated directly into some courses provided by Science, Business, and Computer Science faculties.
“Being able to provide IP knowledge and literacy not only to our local startups but making it accessible globally is a key component to creating an innovation economy, something that we at EPICentre strive to do,” said EPICentre Director Wen Teoh “with the support of the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the program has seen incredible success in training future generations of CTO’s in the importance of IP literacy.”
According to the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), small and medium-sized businesses that hold formal IP are three times more likely to engage in product innovation than those without IP, two times more likely to engage in other types of innovation, four times more likely to export, and 64% more likely to be high growth. Thanks to the funding received from FedDev, the NextGen CTO program has provided formal IP training to help program members hone in on these skills.
Based on reported metrics from EPICentre pre and post-program surveys, IP literacy has increased considerably across core IP principals. Participants have also reported a significant increase in IP confidence in critical areas such as school projects, commercialization of university innovations, and IP strategy for startups and early-stage businesses.
Participants of the NextGen CTO program not only gain critical skills, competencies, and know-how in IP but also gain access to Centre for International Governance Innovation online learning modules, opportunities to interact with notable specialists in Intellectual Property, a certificate of completion and micro-credential badge that can be acknowledged on resumes, LinkedIn, and business webpages and access to the EPICentre’s vast networking of entrepreneurs and professionals.
NextGen CTO participants reported that they felt more than twice as prepared to take on work/school assignments with IP know-how, Manage IP Strategy as a CTO or other related managerial position or start a business or within a startup position that manages IP strategy. In addition, more than 94% of participants said that the program exceeded their expectations in knowledge mobilization. Finally, 97% of program participants said they would recommend the program to a friend or colleague.
Are you interested in learning more about the NextGen CTO program? Visit our website for more information, and sign up for the EPICentre newsletter to be the first to find out when applications open for our October 2023 cohort.