Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario launches intellectual property action plan to keep ideas, innovations in province

Premier Doug Ford says companies and innovations started in Ontario should have every opportunity to remain in the province, rather than being sold off to other companies in the U.S. or internationally.

Province to protect work by companies, researchers

Armen Bakirtzian, a University of Waterloo graduate and CEO of Intellijoint Surgical Inc., speaks at a press conference with Premier Doug Ford on Friday. He explained how his company has developed a navigational system for surgeons to more accurately do knee and hip replacements. He says they're proud to be in Ontario and it would be nice to get more work in the province and in Canada. (YouTube)

Ideas and innovations created in Ontario need to stay in Ontario rather than be bought up by American or international firms and taken elsewhere, Premier Doug Ford says.

Ford announced his government is launching an intellectual property action plan during a stop at Medical Innovation Xchange in Kitchener on Friday, a medical tech hub started by University of Waterloo graduate and CEO of Intellijoint Surgical Inc. Armen Bakirtzian.

"Too often the priceless intellectual property developed here in Ontario gets bought up by the big U.S. or international firms," Ford said. "Our taxpayers' money goes into the education system to produce the brightest minds anywhere in the world … they create these companies, all of a sudden, not all cases, but a lot get bought up, brought to another country or down to the U.S."

Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli said people in Ontario should be the first to benefit from homegrown ideas. 

"Great ideas can only take us so far. Now we must commercialize," he said, adding the plan will "smooth the road from the lab to the marketplace."

Company 'eager' to break into Ontario market

Ford offered Bakirtzian's company as an example of how things could be better.

The technology Intellijoint Surgical creates helps surgeons better perform hip and knee replacements. Bakirtzian said his father is an orthopedic surgeon and told him they rely on training and judgment to place implants. 

Bakirtzian and his team created a navigation system to help surgeons line up the new joints and it provides real time feedback on what the surgeons are doing. This leads to fewer mistakes and better outcomes for patients.

In 10 years, the company's equipment assists with 17,000 hip replacements. Of those, more than 12,000 were done in the United States and more than 4,000 were in Australia. Just a little more than 300 were done in Canada.

"This is staggering," Ford said. 

"We need to fix this. Keep the folks here. Keep the brains of the operation here," Ford said, adding he planned to put Bakirtzian in front of the right people so he could talk to them about the work his company does.

"Buy Ontario intelligence, technology, that's what we need to do," he said. 

Bakirtzian says it would be nice to get additional support.

"We are eager to break through the Ontario market. I think every medical technology company born here feels the same way," he said.

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