Fiscal year 2021–2022 marked the last year of CIPO's 2017–2022 Five-Year Business Strategy. It was a year to take stock and celebrate our successes, but also to ponder the future. The pandemic has shaped our collective behaviours and expectations and has served as an accelerator for technological and socio-economic change that was already in motion. Canada's adherence to international IP treaties and the increasing value of intangible assets have led to a surge in demand for IP protection. Innovation is becoming more complex and global in nature and, in turn, so are IP rights. Clients have come to count on online services and transactions that are fast, seamless and on-demand. CIPO staff have adapted to a remote work environment supported by technology and tools that allow them to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. As we concluded the final year of our 5-year business strategy, the changes to our operating environment have set the backdrop to establish new priorities for the next 5 years and bring CIPO into the future.
In 2021–2022, CIPO continued to focus on improving the timely delivery of quality IP rights and services. Following an external audit of our patent processes, we successfully maintained our ISO 9001:2015 certification, demonstrating our commitment to quality and continuous improvement. To address CIPO's growing inventory of trademark applications and reduce turnaround times, we implemented a recovery plan to increase productivity and improve pendency at all stages of the registration process. Initiatives such as the expansion of the Goods and Services Manual and new machine-learning solutions are showing early positive results.
CIPO also made great strides to provide convenient and seamless e-services, putting clients at the heart of service improvements. In April 2021, CIPO became one of the first IP offices in the world to issue entirely electronic patents! A new trademarks e-service platform featuring automated and self-serve transactions was also introduced. To both modernize and extend the reach of our IP awareness and education services, we pivoted to digital and virtual approaches. We introduced new tools and resources, including a new podcast series titled Canadian IP Voices, where IP professionals and stakeholders discuss IP issues and provide tips and tricks for navigating the IP process.
As CIPO aims to become a more data-driven organization, we are enhancing the stewardship and governance of our data and continuing to expand our evidence base. In collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada, CIPO published a report titled Patenting to Fight Pandemics, bringing to light Canadian patented inventions in the fields of therapeutics and vaccine development, rapid detection and diagnosis and digital health. We also hosted our 5th Annual IP Data and Research Conference, disseminating leading IP research to an international audience of IP stakeholders, economic researchers and policy thinkers.
As pandemic and travel restrictions persisted in 2021–2022, CIPO made the most of virtual tools to engage and collaborate with key international stakeholders, share best practices and promote Canadian IP interests. Domestically, CIPO partnered with leading IP organizations in Canada to create the IP Village, an initiative to help Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) better understand, use and leverage IP. Continued collaboration with our international and domestic stakeholders will help ensure the ongoing provision of services that meet the needs of Canadian innovators and businesses.
In June 2021, as part of the Government of Canada Intellectual Property Strategy, the College of Patent Agents and Trademarks Agents was established to regulate the patent and trademark agent profession. This was an important step in advancing Canada's IP ecosystem by modernizing the professional oversight framework of patent and trademark agents, and CIPO's expertise and assistance helped ensure a successful transfer of responsibilities.
2021–2022 marked CIPO's second year operating in a pandemic environment, and with a majority of our employees continuing to work remotely. CIPO staff have demonstrated their agility, resilience and professionalism, and provided excellent and uninterrupted services in these challenging times.
The past 2 years have shown us that we can be nimble and innovative in the face of adversity and are able to overcome any challenge the future may bring. Looking to the future, we have begun to lay the groundwork for a modern and flexible workplace, one that will foster creativity, work–life balance, inclusion and well-being. To ensure our ongoing sustainability, we also initiated a comprehensive review of our fee structure that will set the foundation for us to serve our clients with excellence and efficiency, now and for years to come.