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Business-Driven Innovation: Is it Making a Difference in Education?: An Analysis of Educational Patents


  • Dominique Foray

    (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

  • Julio Raffo

    (World Intellectual Property Organization)


This paper analyses business-driven innovation in education by looking at education-related patents. It first draws a picture of the challenges for innovation in the formal education sector, which suffers from a poor knowledge ecology: science is hardly linked to core teaching and administrative practices. It then turns to a common indicator of innovation: patents. In the case of education, patents typically cover educational tools. An analysis of education-related patents over the past 20 years shows a clear rise in the production of highly innovative educational technologies by businesses, typically building on advances in information and communication technology. While this increase in educational innovations may present new opportunities for the formal education sector, the emerging tool industry currently targets the nonformal education rather than the formal education system. We shortly discuss why business entrepreneurs may be less interested in the market of formal education. Cet article porte sur l’innovation entrepreneuriale dans le secteur de l’éducation, à partir d’une analyse des dépôts de brevets dans le secteur éducatif. Premièrement, il propose un tableau des défis de l’innovation dans le secteur de l’éducation formelle, dont l’écologie du savoir est faible : la science y est peu liée avec le coeur des pratiques pédagogiques et administratives. L’étude porte ensuite sur un indicateur courant de l’innovation : les brevets. Dans le cas de l’éducation, les brevets couvrent généralement des « outils » éducatifs. L’analyse des brevets éducatifs durant les vingt dernières années montre une claire croissance de la production de technologies éducatives hautement innovantes par des entreprises privées, qui s’appuient souvent sur les progrès des technologies d’information et de communication. Bien que cette croissance des innovations éducatives puisse donner de nouvelles opportunités au secteur formel de l’éducation, l’industrie émergente d’outils éducatifs cible actuellement les secteurs informels d’éducation. Nous discutons brièvement les raisons pour lesquelles les entrepreneurs privés semblent moins intéressés par le secteur de l’éducation formelle.

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  • Dominique Foray & Julio Raffo, 2012. "Business-Driven Innovation: Is it Making a Difference in Education?: An Analysis of Educational Patents," OECD Education Working Papers 84, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:84-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Foray, D. & Raffo, J., 2014. "The emergence of an educational tool industry: Opportunities and challenges for innovation in education," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(10), pages 1707-1715.
    2. Oscar Montes Pineda & Luis Rubalcaba, 2015. "Human or technological resources? A dilemma in education provision," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 10,in: Marta Rahona López & Jennifer Graves (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 10, edition 1, volume 10, chapter 24, pages 469-490 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.

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