80 participants, 5 weeks, 1 goal; learn how to leverage intellectual property. EPICentre recently wrapped up its second ever cohort of the NextGen CTO Program. Funded by FedDev Ontario, the five-week program aimed to develop and guide the future generation of CTOs (Chief Technology/Technical Officers) by equipping participants with knowledge in intellectual property (IP) fundamentals and strategies. Participants gained the skills to lead in this executive-level position in overseeing the development of innovative products and services within a company. For a company to have a CTO who understands IP and how it can be leveraged in business decisions will set them apart from their competitors.
“We hope this program will help students and entrepreneurs develop IP savviness that will give them a competitive advantage in their future careers, whether as CTOs at their own startups or at other organizations,” said Wen Teoh, EPICentre Director.
“A solid understanding of different software licenses and intellectual property issues, in general, equip MAC students with an additional edge in their career advancement. This program is perfectly integrated with the curriculum for this semester and more Master of Applied Computing students already expressed their interest in attending future offering of the NextGen CTO program,” said Dr. Dan Wu, Associate Professor of the School of Computer Science, University of Windsor.
In its first year, the pilot for the NextGen CTO program attracted 51 students in the Master of Applied Computing Program. For this cohort, applications were opened to all students as well as entrepreneurs in the community. With 80 participants this year, tuning in from five different countries, its clear that the importance of intellectual property awareness is gaining traction. Being able to open the program up attracted people from many different industries and disciplines as well, including University of Windsor professors and staff.
“The CTO program helped crystalize experiences in my career where partners, companies or stakeholders have made certain decisions that I couldn’t explain. I now know what to consider in the earliest stages of business development, negotiation and working with entrepreneurs. This was a great experience, “said Tom Schnekenburger, Data & Mobility Science Project Manager at the University of Windsor and program participant.
Participants completed the Foundations of IP Strategy online course developed by the Centre for International Governance (CIGI). The course was co-authored by Senior Fellows Karima Bawa and Law Professor Myra Tawfik, who is also the EPICentre Professor of IP Commercialization & Strategy at the University of Windsor. The online course consists of seven modules from foundational introductory material to the strategic uses of IP as a business asset.
“IP literacy is an essential skill for businesses competing in today’s innovation economy, regardless of whether we are talking about a small and medium enterprise or a large multinational. It is imperative that IP education programs be available across the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. especially for those who aspire to business leadership positions as Chief Technology or IP or Innovation Officers,” said Professor Myra Tawfik.
Each week, participants attended a virtual session with a featured guest speakers or panel on various topics. Participants had the opportunity to expand their learning through case studies, presentations discussions by guest speakers such as:
- Distinguished Professor Myra Tawfik
- Windsor Law graduate Aaraf Dewan, Intellectual Property Lawyer at Own Innovation
- Heather Pratt, University of Windsor Executive Director of Research and Innovation
- Shelley Fellows, Chair, Board of Directors – Automate Canada and automation industry entrepreneur
- Joe Sleiman, President of Ag-Tronic Control Systems Inc. and Accu-Label Inc.
- Bob Hedrick, President of CAMufacturing Solutions Inc.
- Alexis Black, Intellectual Property Advisor at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office
- Jeremy Hedges, Founder and President, The Canadian Shield and InkSmith
- Jim Hinton, Founder of Own Innovation and Intelectual Property Lawyer
“This program was really great and far better than what I expected. It really introduced me to a new field which I did not knew exist and had such a huge value. After this whole session, I really believe that Intellectual property is really an important and valuable asset and everybody should know,” said Jobanpreet Singh, Master of Applied Computing student.
“In the excitement of a new idea, IP considerations often get ignored. Whether it’s a student project that creates the next “great thing” or a small business that is finding a new or better way of doing things, intellectual property is a core component of bringing an idea to life” said Paul Brereton, EPIC Program Lead. “The IP that is born from these processes can be a source of advantage if leveraged effectively or headache if left unchecked. I think it is great that we are able to get these program members thinking about IP at an early stage and bring it to them with such a diverse set of approaches. There is no doubt in my mind that these students are better prepared for whatever their technological futures will bring them”
Graduates of the NextGen CTO program were issued micro-credentials and badges, a skills-based credential system that helps validate skills and accomplishments. Graduates can display their badges on social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
The 3rd round of the NextGen CTO Program will be open to all students and entrepreneurs in late 2021. Stay tuned for more information.