#IWD2020 Spotlight on Jennifer Miller, Director General for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

#IWD2020 Spotlight on Jennifer Miller, Director General for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Jennifer Miller is the Director General of the Marketplace Framework Policy Branch at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, focusing on issues related to privacy, data protection, intellectual property, copyright, competition and insolvency.  Previously, she was responsible for the federal Innovation Superclusters Initiative and served as ISED’s Director of Emerging Technologies.

Previous roles within the federal government have included various responsibilities at the Privy Council Office, including economic and social policy analysis and advice to Cabinet, as well as leadership of the policy innovation agenda.  Jennifer also spent several years at ESDC, where she worked on various files related to post-secondary education and student financial assistance.

1. Why did you choose a career in IP?

 I don’t focus exclusively on IP, but it has featured heavily in most of my work for the past decade.  I find IP issues particularly compelling because they require both strategic thinking and deep technical expertise, and because they cut across every group that my department serves: researchers, creators, and entrepreneurs in every sector. 

2. What is a “must read” IP article/book?

 I am lucky in that I do most of my IP learning through conversation with experts and people who are passionate about the field.  They offer me the opportunity to ask questions and engage on topics of specific interest, which is most helpful in exposing me to a variety of different perspectives and giving me the chance to test my own thinking. My twitter feed is also fairly crowded with recommended reading—online posts, articles and exchanges help to keep me up to speed in real time.

3. Why should a prospective law student consider a career in IP?

Canada and Canadians deserve to make the most of the intellectual property they generate, and to use it in strategic ways that benefit their research, businesses and other interests.  As the economy of intangibles continues to grow, awareness of the potential value of IP will only increase, and the opportunities to support its generation, protection and use will grow along with it.  For those of us who are naturally curious, IP also offers great opportunities to undertake a professional practice in a growing area while learning a lot about scientific or industrial topics and trends you might not otherwise encounter, which can hold your interest over the course of a full career.

4. What is the name of a mentor that has guided you in your career (and how)?

Graham Flack, currently the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada, has had a huge impact on my leadership style and my approach to decision-making.  He gave me the space to develop and move on my own agenda in a policy area that meant a lot to me, and the opportunity to rise to that level of trust taught me a lot about my own abilities and the areas where I want to develop.  It also gave me a great example to follow in providing that same agency to folks on my own team, and trying to find the spots in the work where direction and guidance can add value.

5. What are the key substantive IP challenges that are faced in Canada and abroad that you would like to see more attention paid to?

We need to continue to support our SMEs in valuing their IP assets and using them strategically.  As a nation of SMEs, we need to ensure that they’re on the strongest possible competitive footing, and that includes approach to IP. I would also love to see more businesses exploring open IP models, where it makes sense for them.