Mike McLean

How do you build trust and effective communication with stakeholders?

Trust and communication depend on consistency and dependability. IAC’s mission is to empower the sustained success of Canadian SMEs through leadership in IP strategy and its use to create global business advantage. That is an effort that needs to be sustained over time. We have worked hard to identify short-term objectives that will translate IAC’s activity into new or improved behaviours from the companies that we serve. Communicating those objectives and consistently delivering on them builds trust with our stakeholders. The significance of the change required means that a vibrant IP ecosystem is needed where the collaborative efforts from stakeholders (including industry and business leaders, not-for-profit organisations tasked with accelerating innovation and intellectual property, research institutions, universities, incubators, IP experts and service providers) come together to strengthen Canada's intangible economy. IAC meets regularly with member companies, ecosystem partners and government representatives with this aim in mind and hosted an IP forum in May to help align key organisations working on this effort. I was also able to appear before committees from the Senate and the House of Commons in Canada to present the IP challenges that Canadian companies face and outlined solutions for Canada’s IP ecosystem. I continue to work with various stakeholders in building IP capacity in Canada.

You previously said that IAC’s vision is to revolutionise the Canadian IP ecosystem around how Canadian innovators can use IP strategy to compete and scale. Twelve months on, how much closer are you to realising this goal?

IAC has achieved significant milestones in executing on the mandate from the Canadian government. First and foremost, it is providing clear guidance to Canadian SMEs on how to build an IP strategy that will make a positive impact on their business by assessing the fit of the company’s technology and products into the competitive environment and value chain, and the IP positions that impact that environment. This allows them to create a plan to build IP ownership positions that create sustainable differentiation and risk mitigation efforts that create freedom-to-operate in markets of interest. Some of IAC’s other achievements include:

  • producing multiple landscape reports in numerous cleantech sectors, including in wireless power transfer, the electric vehicle ecosystem, precision agriculture, energy storage, energy efficiency in data centres, smart cities and smart grid for use by IAC members and partners;
  • acquiring and building a patent portfolio  comprising 165 patents in numerous jurisdictions in image processing/computer vision, smart metering and battery management systems - for use by IAC members;
  • building a business-centric IP education programme with practical, just-in-time resources in multiple IP subject matters for IAC members and partners;
  • developing an IP maturity framework with a measurable matrix to guide members and partners in effective IP training and skills development;
  • supporting Canadian SMEs with over C$2.3 million in grant funding to carry out IP projects, including developing IP strategy, filing patents, trademarks and industrial designs, conducting landscape studies and IP due diligence activities; and
  • solidifying partnerships with public and private sector organisations across the IP ecosystem from coast to coast.

What are some lessons you’ve learned at IAC and challenges? What is your advice to others leading an IP organisation like IAC?

Moving the needle on Canada’s IP position on the global scale does not happen overnight. Comprehensive, well thought-out and coordinated projects and efforts take time to implement. Investments into these efforts and projects must be sustained to ensure success. Stakeholders must be invested in the efforts and have a long-term vision. At the same time, it is important to set short-term milestones and ensure that these are met.

Do you see a shift in mindset of leaders of SMEs and entrepreneurs when it comes to the treatment of IP in their business?

Certainly, there has been a shift in mindset and attitude among industry leaders and SMEs towards intellectual property. This is evident from anecdotal evidence, various data points and feedback we have collected from various sources including, our members, meetings and conversations with CEOs of companies and industry leaders, start-up and incubator organisations, regular touch points with government agencies and officials responsible for IP rights, the growing demands for our IP strategy and education resources and IP intelligence reports.

Mike McLean


CEO Mike McLean is a leading voice on intellectual property in Canada and plays a key role in empowering and expanding the Canadian IP ecosystem. He is passionate about promoting the need for robust IP strategies for Canadian industries and investments in patent collective models that increase freedom-to-operate for Canadian SMEs. Innovation Asset Collective is a not-for-profit organisation helping Canadian data-driven cleantech companies maximise the value of their intangible assets.

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