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New support for Québec research and innovation

December 19, 2013

In the final quarter of 2013, the Québec government introduced its Politique économique du Québec – Priorité emploi (Economic Policy), which implements an integrated approach for creating jobs and stimulating investment in Quebec.

The main points of the Economic Policy include the creation of 40,000 new jobs as well as up to $2 billion in fiscal and tax measures over the next three years.

The Economic Policy includes the Politique nationale de la recherche et de l'innovation 2014-2019 (PNRI), which was published shortly after the Economic Policy. One of the objectives of the PNRI is to increase the amount of R&D investment so that it exceeds 3% of Quebec's GDP.

The PNRI and the Economic Policy both describe the creation of a First Patent program, which will provide financial and technical assistance to SMEs when filing their first patent application. While the PNRI does not specify a monetary figure, the Economic Policy mentions an amount of $15 million being devoted to this program over the next three years. This amount breaks down into $2 million 2014-2015, $5 million in 2015-2016 and $8 million in 2016-2017.

The PNRI says that Québec companies are not short of ideas, but often fail to adequately protect them. The goal of the First Patent program is to increase the number of patents issued to Québec SMEs. The following specific steps are covered by the First Patent program:

- The cost of searching prior art in order to validate the novelty of the innovation to be patented;

- The cost of researching required certifications or approvals for the use of the product, if applicable;

- The fees of a patent agent or lawyer hired to support a patent application, as well as the cost of filing the patent application in Canada;

- Similar costs related to the filing of patent applications abroad;

- The cost of various training activities related to the use of the invention once the patent is granted.

The PNRI refers expressly to searches for prior art covered by Canadian and foreign intellectual property but it is assumed that the cost of searching other types of publically available information will also be included. Similarly, though not expressly mentioned, it is assumed that the First Patent program will cover the patent prosecution stage, which includes the steps that need to be undertaken between when the application is filed and a patent is eventually obtained.

The PNRI also mentions the creation of a new tool for Québec SMEs named the Passeport innovation (Innovation Passport). The Innovation Passport is intended to provide direct access to organizations involved in supporting and commercializing research. The PNRI adds that the Innovation Passport will make available consulting services in various areas of expertise, including expertise in intellectual property.

Beyond what is described in the Economic Policy and in the PNRI, there is very little additional information about the First Patent and the Innovation Passport programs at this time. It will be interesting to see in the near future the scope of these programs and the criteria to be eligible to them.

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