Weekly Roundup is a McNair Center series compiling and summarizing the week’s most important Entrepreneurship and Innovation news.
Here is what you need to know about innovation this week:
Closing the Gender Patenting Gap Could Unlock Innovation
Barbara Gault, Executive Director, Institute for Women’s Policy Research
A study by the Institute for Women’s Policy research has quantified the gender difference in patenting. The IWPR claims women’s underrepresentation in STEM fields is a major in the patent disparity and notes that patents granted to coed teams are cited more often than patents granted to single gender teams.
The divide is significant; under 20 percent of US patents cite a woman inventor and under 8 percent list a woman as the primary inventor. The IWPR suggests employers help women pay for filing patent applications and expand women’s professional network to close the gap. The McNair Center’s Tay Jacobe has written about has written about the gender gap in STEM.
Is Engine of Innovation in Danger of Stalling?
Christopher Mims, Technology Columnist, Wall Street Journal
The basic discoveries at the heart of the biggest tech companies are growing old fast. Inventions like the transistor and internet, while not relics, were invented between 1940 and 1980 when federal funding allowed for long-term research without immediate commercial use. At that time, the federal government spent 2 percent of GDP on research and development. That figure is now 0.6 percent.
The landscape of R&D has shifted. Now, corporate R&D spending is at 2 percent of GDP, from under 0.6% in the 1960’s. While this appears beneficial at face value, since the corporations who profit off inventions are funding them, it hides the fact that basic discoveries and incremental advancement is overlooked in favor of easily marketable technologies. Arati Prabhakar, Director of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) explains, “we need public investment in R&D because companies only worry about the next quarter.”
Venture capitalists now fund by backing startups that are then acquired for their innovations. This still places an onus on inventors to work on marketable technologies rather than truly speculative research that used to be the foray of Bell Labs and still is in the domain of IBM Research.
How China’s Government Helps and Hinders Innovation
Anil Gupta, Professor, University of Maryland Smith School of Business; Cofounder of China India Institute
Haiyan Wang, Managing Partner, China India Institute
Although India spends a tenth of what China spends on R&D, Indian research leads to significantly more international patents than Chinese R&D. The top-10 US tech companies’ Indian based labs were granted 50% more patents than their Chinese counterparts.
China’s shift from low-cost manufacturing to innovation is a case-study in how government policies, particularly insufficient patent protection, can inhibit innovation. Gupta and Wang claim that China’s heavy R&D investment have led to unimpressive results since foreign companies are wary about intellectual property protection in China.
While China accounts for 20 percent of global R&D expenditure, second to the US at 26 percent, they are granted relatively few international patents. Only 2.2% of USPTO patents were of Chinese origin. More patents originated in nations like Japan (18.8%) and Germany (5.5%).
China Logged a Record-Breaking 1 Million Patent Applications in 2015
Ananya Bhattarchya, Editorial Fellow, Quartz
According to a World Intellectual Property Organization report, global patent applications were up 7.8 percent in 2015 to 2.9 million filings. China emphasizes patent quantity over quality and that much of local research is not original research but rather adapting existing inventions for Chinese markets. In line with this theory, the Chinese patent office received 1,010,406 of the 2.9 million global patent applications. In second was the USPTO with 526,000 applications and the top 5 patent offices handled 82.5 percent of applications.
Government subsidies and foreign companies applying for Chinese patents for greater IP protection in the country drives the patent increase.
While China’s office has seen the greatest growth, the USPTO remains the leader in foreign patent applications with nearly 238,000 foreign patent applications.
Happy Holidays from the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Innovation Weekly Roundup will return in 2017.