A report just published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) finds that the direction of innovation is the sum total of a complex net of decisions that individuals, firms, universities and governments make in the pursuit of technological opportunities.
Over the past century, patenting rates indicate that innovation has increased exponentially with very different technological catalysts. While the transport sector dominated the innovation landscape during the early decades, biopharma technologies took over the lead later on, thanks to the improvements in pharmaceuticals as well as in biotechnology. In the final decades of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, a big shift towards information and communication technologies (ICTs) occurred. In fact, ICTs accounted for a quarter of all patents in the years between 1990 and 2010, according to the WIPO report.
Today, digitalization is the change maker. Digital general-purpose technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), predictive technologies, highly sophisticated automation and big data are transforming industries by bringing in new innovators, structures, practices and values.
As the conclusive findings in the WIPO report suggest, the allocation of human and financial resources to different innovation activities often has more than a mere short-term influence on where innovation is headed. Instead, innovation ecosystems can set the direction of innovation for decades to come, despite societies' ever-changing needs and demands.
- Publication date
- 13 April 2022