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Standing on the shoulders of science

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  • Schnitzer, Monika
  • Watzinger, Martin

Abstract

The goal of science is to advance knowledge, yet little is known about its value for marketplace inventions. While important breakthrough technologies could not have been developed without scientific background, skeptics argue that this is the exception rather than the rule, questioning the usefulness of basic research for private sector innovations and the effectiveness of the knowledge transfer from university to industry. We analyze the universe of U.S. patents to establish three new facts about the relationship between science and the value of inventions. First, we show that a patent that directly builds on science is on average 2.9 million U.S. dollars more valuable than a patent in the same technology that is unrelated to science. Based on the analysis of the patent text, we show second that the novelty of patents predicts their value, and third that science-intensive patents are more novel. This documents that science introduces new concepts that are valuable for marketplace inventions. Our study informs the debate on the merits of science for corporate innovation and the origins of breakthrough inventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Schnitzer, Monika & Watzinger, Martin, 2019. "Standing on the shoulders of science," CEPR Discussion Papers 13766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13766
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey Clemens & Parker Rogers, 2020. "Demand Shocks, Procurement Policies, and the Nature of Medical Innovation: Evidence from Wartime Prosthetic Device Patents," NBER Working Papers 26679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Felix Poege & Dietmar Harhoff & Fabian Gaessler & Stefano Baruffaldi, 2019. "Science Quality and the Value of Inventions," Papers 1903.05020, arXiv.org, revised Apr 2019.
    3. Baruffaldi, Stefano & Pöge, Felix, 2020. "A Firm Scientific Community: Industry Participation and Knowledge Diffusion," IZA Discussion Papers 13419, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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