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New insights into the patent system: first results from the EPO Academic Research Programme published

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The EPO has published six research reports developed with funding from its Academic Research Programme. The research used patent data to investigate topics such as financing for innovation, knowledge transfer, trade, tracking inventions in the marketplace, and the growth of technologies to tackle climate change. Grants totalling €300 000 were awarded for the six projects in 2017, with the researchers presenting their final results at a workshop hosted by the EPO in Munich last month.

EPO Chief Economist Yann Ménière, who chairs the programme's scientific committee, said: "The impact of the patent system on industry, society and the economy raises important questions for policymakers. Careful, robust, peer-reviewed academic research can often be the best way to get answers. The insights these new results give us into different aspects of the IP ecosystem and the functioning of innovation cycles can be very useful to the EPO, other researchers, and innovators alike."

The EPO launched the Academic Research Programme in 2017 to encourage more research into the role of patents in the European economy and to promote the sharing of research results. The programme complements the EPO's role in disseminating patent information, for example through its worldwide patent database Espacenet, and in facilitating patent analytics through tools such as PATSTAT.

Giovanna Oddo, EPO Programme Area Manager for Academia, said: "Sharing knowledge is central to the EPO's culture, so our links with universities are vitally important to us, as is strengthening the IP research community. This programme nurtures a bright community of researchers who will consider many challenging issues in IP and innovation as disruptive technologies arise and markets grow."

The six research topics were selected by the programme's scientific committee from 66 submissions from 13 countries following the call for proposals in 2017. The projects, the results of which are now published on the EPO website, are:

  • Innovation and technological content of imports
    Igor Bagayev, University College Dublin
  • Insights from product-patent correspondence
    Gaétan de Rassenfosse, Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
  • Financing innovation in Europe
    David Heller, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • CAPPA - Career paths of patent attorneys
    Lutz Maicher, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena
  • Knowledge spillovers from product and process inventions in patents and their impact on firm performance
    Martin Wörter, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich
  • Innovation in climate change mitigation technologies and environmental regulation
    Julie Lochard, Université Paris Est Créteil

The next call for proposals under the programme will be published in spring 2020.

Further information

  • Academic Research Programme