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Innovation 2012: where and in what fields is it happening?

Innovation continues to be the buzz word and strategy of the decade. Given the heightened global competition, countries realize that their economic prosperity depends on innovation more than ever before.  Companies seek the competitive advantage via innovation, and individuals are mastering the art (and science) of innovation for economic and professional success.

The technology areas with the highest degree of innovation have been, and remain, computers & peripherals, telecommunications, automotive and semiconductors.  However, according to the extensive report of Thomson Reuters, other areas are experiences more rapid growth.  These include Medical Devices, Aerospace and Domestic appliances (laundry and kitchen equipment).

The Thomson Reuters report high-lites 12 leading sectors and analyzes their innovation levels based on patent activity.   Why is patent activity a main criteria of innovation?

  1. Patents are very often strongly related to innovation.
  2. Patent data is relatively objective and easy to measure, and global in nature
  3. In a competitive world, patent=protected innovation is often essential in order to  monetize a new product or service.

 Therefore, by looking at patent activity, one gets a view of the innovative landscape, regardless of the innovation's commercial successful.

 Key findings from the report include:

(1)   Medical Device Patent Volume Rises: The largest increase in patent activity was in the medical device technology area, which grew by 15.7 percent, a reinforcement of the importance of these inventions in addressing health issues of the world’s exploding population.

(2)   Food, Tobacco, & Beverage. Tobacco-related innovation increased 58 percent and sugar-related inventions grew 56 percent, as manufacturers of these goods seek alternative pathways to profit.

(3)   Japan is the most innovative country in Asia.  Japan had more Asian companies ranked among the top 10 filers for patents than any other Asian country.  Chinese, despite filing more patents than any country, held only 27 top spots in terms of the most active filers,  whereas Japan had 67 of them.

(4)   Computers. Still #1 in terms of largest overall patent activity:  232,549 patent filings in 2012.  But computers saw only a 3% growth while scanners saw a 34% drop, as this technology becomes more obsolete.