Scientific Sources of Corporate Inventions in Japan: Evidence from an inventor survey

Author Name NAGAOKA Sadao  (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) /YAMAUCHI Isamu  (Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. August 2014 14-J-038
Research Project Research on Innovation Process and its Institutional Infrastructure
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We conducted an inventor survey to examine the contribution of science to corporate inventions. The survey results show that for about one-quarter of the inventions, scientific knowledge embodied in literature, equipment, or research materials in the last 15 years was essential to conceive or implement research and development (R&D). If it were not for the collaboration with universities, 3% of the R&D projects would not have been implemented. In total, for two-thirds of the inventions, scientific knowledge contributed to implementing and accelerating R&D. These results indicate the importance of scientific knowledge as a public good to promote corporate inventions.

We also found that about 70% of the scientific knowledge source of Japanese inventions was generated in Japan: the suppliers of scientific sources were located domestically. If the scientific sources are cited in the patent document, they are more likely to be cited at where the prior art is described rather than where the invention is described.

Moreover, the results show that only 15% of the inventions with important scientific sources cite such important literature in the patent document, and only 16% of the inventions citing non patent literature actually cite the important scientific sources. This result means that the patent citation is an incomplete and noisy index to trace the knowledge flow.