On a mission to save the planet: TerraFixing and IP

From left to right: Marjolaine Hudon (Regional President at RBC), Vida Gabriel, PhD, and Sean Wilson, PhD (co-founders of TerraFixing), and Nick Quain (VP of Invest Ottawa), at the Best Ottawa Business Awards (BOBs) 2023.

On April 26, 2024, we celebrate World Intellectual Property (IP) Day and the theme of "IP and Sustainable Development Goals: Building our common future with innovation and creativity." When speaking with this company, our team identified that it contributes to the following objectives: Industry, innovation and infrastructure; Climate action; Life on land. Explore how IP has encouraged and amplified the innovative and creative solutions of Canadian company TerraFixing, to help it combat climate change.

TerraFixing is an Ottawa-based company on a mission to restore the environment. Terra is a Latin word meaning planet earth, and "fixing" refers to the company's proven 5-step process to clean the atmosphere. TerraFixing developed a direct air carbon capture technology that works efficiently in colder climates like Canada. This innovative and patented technology captures emissions directly from the atmosphere and sequesters the captured carbon into the Earth. In doing so, TerraFixing effectively removes carbon gases from the atmosphere, which it believes can help "turn back the clock on climate change."

TerraFixing was established in 2020 by Tim Wilson, Dr. Sean Wilson and Dr. Vida Gabriel. The latter two met while pursuing their postgraduate studies at the University of Ottawa, and decided to team up to combat environmental issues. Recently, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) interviewed Dr. Gabriel, who shared the company's story and how IP protection has played a crucial role.

TerraFixing logo

Knowing when to patent your technology

While most environmental experts focus on areas with humid climates, the TerraFixing team decided to focus on colder climates instead, and as a result, was able to rework a process for direct air carbon capture in these environments. This breakthrough in understanding alternative applications of this method convinced TerraFixing to patent its technology. According to Dr. Gabriel, as soon as TerraFixing confirmed that its technology was functional, it was time to submit a patent application to several countries using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

Resources for patenting technology

As owners of a start-up, Dr. Gabriel and her co-founder Dr. Wilson made use of every available resource to apply for patents. Initially, they relied on patenting technology textbooks that helped them understand the technical aspects of the patent process. They also learned about legal procedures and the importance of being familiar with existing literature, patents and prior art (inventions that have been publicly described or demonstrated). In order to reduce costs, they decided to draft the application themselves, only seeking legal expertise from a law firm for a review of the legal language. After submitting the initial PCT application, they felt more confident in disclosing and discussing their technology with third parties. Next, they shifted their focus to building a strategy based on identifying the jurisdictions where they wanted to patent their technology. They mainly targeted countries with colder climates such as Canada, the United States, Norway and other similar regions.

Leveraging the benefits of IP protection

When asked about what she values most about the patenting process, Dr. Gabriel shared 3 benefits:

  1. The path to pursuing IP protection provided a comprehensive understanding of the PCT, including the necessary legal services
  2. The patenting process enabled her team to make more strategic decisions on what to work on and what to delegate
  3. Having IP is a powerful selling point

Dr. Gabriel emphasized that start-ups get more credibility once they have     IP-protected technology. The protection becomes an asset that the company can use to reassure investors, promote its technology on larger scales, and overall, continue innovating.

TerraFixing started out with a mission to turn back the clock on climate change. With the innovative minds behind its operations and a successful IP journey, it's well on its way to doing exactly that. If you are interested in learning more, visit TerraFixing online.

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World IP Day 2024: The critical role of Canadian IP rights in building a sustainable future

This World Intellectual Property (IP) Day on April 26, learn how Canadian entrepreneurs are helping to build our common future. The United Nations announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which serve as a blueprint for fostering prosperity, peace and environmental stewardship, aligning with our collective vision for a better world. Represented by icons, the goals underscore how IP plays an important part in fostering the innovation and creativity necessary to pave the way towards a sustainable future. The icons shown below connect this Canadian business and its IP success to a sustainable future for all.

Learn more about Canada's involvement by visiting the Canada and the Sustainable Development Goals web page.

Goal 9: Industries, innovation and infrastructure
Goal 9: Industries, innovation and infrastructure
Goal 13: Climate action
Goal 13: Climate action
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Goal 15: Life on land

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