University Technologies International (UTI), the first for profit, university-owned technology commercialization and intellectual property management company in Canada, was launched by the University of Calgary on June 1, 1989. Dedicated to creating business opportunities from scientific innovation, the birth of UTI was not without pain, as General Faculties Council vigorously debated the pros and cons of establishing such an entity. Concerns about legal and moral liability, the membership of the Board of Directors, financial returns, and the power of GFC were raised during a 2 hour discussion on the subject. Ultimately the “yays” prevailed and UTI’s mandate and memorandum of understanding were approved, allowing the corporation to be established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the university.
In its first year of operations, the new company received $50,000 from the University of Calgary, a sum more than handsomely repaid 10 years later when UTI provided the university with a one-time cash donation of $900,000 after a record-breaking year of operations. “I would like to compliment UTI on its successful record,” said UofC President Terry White, in response to this donation in 2000. “Since its inception in 1989, the company has provided a vital service to the university in helping our researchers transfer new technology to the market.” The UofC agreed to set aside half of the money to fund UTI Fellowships for a decade, providing assistance to its students and researchers in medicine, engineering and science faculties.
In 2010 University Technologies International partnered with Calgary Technologies Inc. (CTI) to form Innovate Calgary, “a full-service organization offering technology transfer and business incubator services to researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses within the advanced technology sector”. With more than 50 years combined experience, the new venture focusses its activities on the growth of technology commercialization in southern Alberta.