Survey of Intellectual Property Commercialization in the Higher Education Sector

Detailed information for 2003





Record number:


The objective of the survey is to assure the availability of pertinent information to monitor science and technology related activities and to support the development of science and technology policy.

Data release - December 9, 2004


The objective of the survey is to assure the availability of pertinent information to monitor science and technology related activities and to support the development of science and technology policy. The topic studied is intellectual property management at universities and research hospitals. The data are used to determine how to maximize the benefits resulting from public sector research. Data users include the federal and provincial governments and university administrators and researchers.

Statistical activity

Science and technology (S&T) and the information society are changing the way we live, learn and work. The concepts are closely intertwined: science generates new understanding of the way the world works, technology applies it to develop innovative products and services and the information society is one of the results of the innovations.

People are looking to Statistics Canada to measure and explain the social and economic impacts of these changes.

The purpose of this Program is to develop useful indicators of S&T activity in Canada based on a framework that ties them together in a coherent picture.

Reference period: April 1 - March 31

Collection period: Collection typically begins in the 3rd quarter and can take as long as one year. Universities generally do not have access to the financial information requested in the survey until the September following the end of the fiscal year.


  • Education finance
  • Education, training and learning
  • Human resources in science and technology
  • Research and development
  • Science and technology

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The universe is comprised of all members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), as well as the university-affiliated research hospitals. The latter includes some members of the Association of Canadian Teaching Hospitals (ACTH) and some other hospitals reporting R&D activity on the Annual Hospital Survey.

The AUCC represents degree-granting universities and colleges, which are referred to throughout simply as "universities". AUCC members include small, medium and large universities, liberal arts colleges and divinity colleges. Note that the survey includes institutions that grant both university degrees and community college diplomas but not those that grant only the latter. A list of AUCC members is available at

Instrument design

In early 1997, Statistics Canada commissioned a report by The Impact Group, which was entitled "Commercialization of Intellectual Property in the Higher Education Sector: A Feasibility Study." It recommended a set of 50 indicators to measure the components of the commercialization process.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) recommended additional indicators and facilitated consultations with university representatives. A draft questionnaire was produced and subsequently discussed with IP managers in eight universities.

The 2003 questionnaire was redesigned by a working group consisting of the AUCC, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), Industry Canada and Statistics Canada.

For each survey cycle, respondent comments and observed difficulties in completing particular questions are routinely gathered and used to make (mostly minor) changes to the next questionnaire and the survey handbook.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: August 2004 to December 2004

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey is mailed to the Vice-President of Research of the university or the CEO of the hospital. The accompanying letter mentions the collaboration of the AUCC in the development of the survey. If the institution has a technology transfer office, the questionnaire will typically be sent there for completion. However, for large universities, the information must usually be gathered from several different offices, such as the Office of Research Contracts, the Office of the VP Research and the technology transfer office.

Follow-up for individual institutions is done by telephone. General e-mail reminders are also sent out by Statistics Canada and the AUCC. For the 2003 survey, collection spanned seven months. The collection of this survey takes longer than normal because it is still relatively new, participation is voluntary and some of the information must be compiled manually.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Both micro and macro-editing are done. As questionnaires are returned, the information is captured onto a screen containing the previous response and internal inconsistencies are noted and followed up by telephone. The data are also compared against external public sources of information, such as websites and annual reports, where available.

To validate the data, reports are prepared that show all contributors to a total and the relationships with other variables. This provides a final review of the data.


Limited imputation or estimation of missing information is done for this survey. Due to the small number of institutions, imputation is done manually. Imputation is closely tied to editing. Any missing information that can be is filled in based on related answers. For larger institutions, some of the information is available from public sources, such as university websites, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) survey, annual reports, press releases and conference presentations. Certain types of questions can have a logical default answer.

At the end of these procedures, a certain amount of information is still missing. One of the most common cases is information provided in aggregate only and not broken down into the categories requested. In these cases, an "unallocated" category is created and published. This allows data users to see and assess the extent of non-response.

If no information whatsoever is available, the field is left blank and no estimation is done.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

The US-based Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has a related survey, in which information on approximately 35 Canadian universities and hospitals is published individually. The AUTM survey is annual whereas the STC survey is occasional. For the corresponding years, STC compares its survey results to the AUTM data. However, this must be done after the fact since the STC survey results are generally published first. Also, there are variations in the content and definitions between the two surveys.

Data on the value of sponsored research (research grants plus contracts) is obtained from the Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada. This is used to help verify the value of research contracts as reported on the survey. Depending upon the timing, this may be done before or after the publication of the survey results.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Data accuracy

Surveys are subject to certain types of errors: coverage, non-response, interpretation and processing errors. The methodology of this survey has been designed to minimize errors and to reduce their potential impact.


There are approximately 110 universities or degree-granting institutions in Canada. The number of universities in Canada varies slightly from year to year but is not particularly meaningful for statistical purposes.

The survey is sent only to members of the AUCC. AUCC members include all the major universities in Canada and particularly those involved in scientific research. Therefore, error due to non-coverage of universities is deemed to be insignificant.

Response rate:


The 2003 survey was mailed out to 89 universities. The final response rate was 81%.


The 2003 survey was mailed out to 52 hospitals. The final response rate was 44%.

There is some understatement of intellectual property commercialization results for hospitals due to non-response. In addition, some universities report for their affiliated hospitals. If the hospital also reports to the survey, a downward adjustment is made to the university questionnaire. Starting in 2003, all published results will be for universities and hospitals combined.

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