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Patents, exhibitions and markets for innovation in the early twentieth century: Evidence from Turin 1911 International Exhibition

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  • Domini, Giacomo

    () (UNU-MERIT, and University of Siena)

Abstract

This work contributes to the recent literature on international exhibitions, and on the use of data from these events as a proxy for innovation in economic history. In particular, it investigates the nature of international exhibitions, the role they played in the early twentieth century, the reasons why economic agents attended them, the relationship between exhibition data and patent data, and their suitability for measuring innovation. To do so, it makes an in-depth analysis of the International Exhibition held in Turin in 1911, and it matches a new database, built from the catalogue of this event, with data about patents granted in Italy. It is found that exhibiting and patenting did mostly occur separately, as exhibitions mainly worked as markets for products, which attracted firms, while patents were primarily taken out by individuals, most of whom might not be interested in that function. Yet, the presence is observed of a qualified niche of independent inventors, using the exhibition as a market for ideas, i.e. to advertise their findings to a selected public of potential investors, buyers or licensees.

Suggested Citation

  • Domini, Giacomo, 2016. "Patents, exhibitions and markets for innovation in the early twentieth century: Evidence from Turin 1911 International Exhibition," MERIT Working Papers 061, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2016061
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    File URL: https://www.merit.unu.edu/publications/wppdf/2016/wp2016-061.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
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    4. Anna Missiaia, 2016. "Where do we go from here? Market access and regional development in Italy (1871–1911)," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 215-241.
    5. Fontana, Roberto & Nuvolari, Alessandro & Shimizu, Hiroshi & Vezzulli, Andrea, 2013. "Reassessing patent propensity: Evidence from a dataset of R&D awards, 1977–2004," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(10), pages 1780-1792.
    6. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
    7. Alessandro Nuvolari, 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(3), pages 347-363, May.
    8. B. Zorina Khan, 2013. "Going for Gold. Industrial Fairs and Innovation in the Nineteenth-Century United States," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 64(1), pages 89-113.
    9. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2015. "Independent invention in Italy during the Liberal Age, 1861–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 858-886, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    patents; inventions; international exhibitions; markets for innovation; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • 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

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