By Matt Luby ‑ December 5, 2017
A new report from Kellogg Insight has identified the key role that scientific research plays in the development of patented inventions in the marketplace. Understanding the scientific research more effectively, enables companies to create more patentable ideas.
All patents must cite any known “prior art” on which they are based, referring to another patent or scientific research. Examining citations between all patents filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 1976 to 2015 and all scientific papers from 1945 to 2013, researchers found more than 80% of scientific papers that had at least one citation that could be connected to a future patent.
The large network of citations confirmed widespread interaction between inventions and science. Patents in fields such as nanotechnology, biomaterials, or computer science were most likely to cite research papers, while patents dealing with low-technology objects, such as locks or envelopes, were least likely to do so.
The report concludes there is an estimated six year gap between patent applications and the published scientific articles they directly cited. Scientific discoveries have the potential to contribute to practical innovations within decades.
The research from Kellogg Insight revealed another correlation between papers and patents. Those that referenced particular scientific research were more likely to be renewed by inventors – a measure associated with greater royalties and market value over time.
Benjamin Jones, a professor of strategy at the Kellogg School, says, “While some may argue that science should be purely curiosity driven and not focused on utility, science and industry innovation are not mutually exclusive. Our study suggests that high-impact work spans the intersection of scientific understanding as well as utility.”
Consider Louis Pasteur, the 19th century microbiologist studied food spoilage and fermentation to identify the process of pasteurisation for industrial food safety. In doing so, he also identified microbes as a source of infections and came up with the germ theory of disease - one of history’s most important basic biological insights.
The analyses confirms that businesses choosing to work closely with scientific researchers can reap the rewards of new advances in the near future. The science lab is where the most successful private-sector inventions come from and where R&D teams can spot new developments for successful marketplace innovations. This also presents new opportunities for the management of intellectual property with respect to being the glue linking R&D output and open innovation investments to the market opportunities of the future.
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