Innovation Process in Japan: Findings from the RIETI Inventors Survey

Author Name NAGAOKA Sadao  (Research Counselor and Faculty Fellow, RIETI) /TSUKADA Naotoshi  (Research Assistant, RIETI / Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)
Creation Date/NO. November 2007 07-J-046
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Effective research and development (R&D) at companies and universities and the efficient commercialization of their results are considered vital to the future growth of the Japanese economy. However, social scientific knowledge on the objectives and motives of R&D, knowledge sources for innovation, outgoing spillovers, financial constraints on R&D, factors restricting the use of R&D results, and the motivations of inventors is extremely limited. By collecting such information directly from those engaged in R&D, we should be able to substantially deepen our understanding of the structural characteristics of R&D in Japan and contribute to the advancement of policy research. With such goals in mind, RIETI conducted a survey of the inventors playing a key role in R&D in Japan about their inventions and the underlying R#D projects. The survey, which is part of the RIETI project titled "Structural Characteristics of Japanese Corporate Research and Development and Issues for the Future," was undertaken from January to June in 2007 and amassed nearly 5,300 responses.

This paper provides a summary of the findings from this survey. Section 2 describes the objectives of the RIETI Inventors Survey and explains the design of the questionnaire and sample used in the survey. Section 3 presents a summary of the survey findings under seven headings: 1) profiles of the inventors who responded to the survey, and their organizational affiliations; 2) objectives, motivations, and scope of R&D projects; 3) cooperation in R&D, knowledge sources, and outgoing spillover; 4) resource inputs for R&D and results; 5) commercialization of inventions; 6) motives for patenting inventions and reasons for the non-use of inventions; and 7) preconditions for successful commercialization. Section 4 provides a wrap-up of these. In the appendix, we explain the method by which the sample data set was constructed and the state under which questionnaire responses were collected.