Colonial Innovation System, Sub-Imperial Institutions and the Creole Elite in Nineteenth-Century Cuba
This article examines the relationship between colonialism and technology transfer via the study of nineteenth century Cuban institutions dedicated to the stimulation of innovative activity, particularly the patent system. Preliminary findings suggest three noteworthy claims. First, during the nineteenth century Cuban Creole elites set up a ‘Colonial Innovation System’ made up of ‘sub-imperial’ institutions autonomously administered in a context where rival Atlantic empires functioned as a ‘shadow’ economic metropolis of Cuba. Second, despite having the same patent laws as metropolitan Spain, Cuban sugar elites obtained practical control and management of the patent sub-institution on the island. Third, this achievement led to an autonomous functioning of the patent system in Cuba that allowed sugar-mill owners to participate actively in the global networks of technological exchange and to generate higher levels of patent activity than in metropolitan Spain.
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