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Leveraging the digital transformation: industrial property strategies of the world’s top R&D investors

The new report analyses industrial property strategies of the world’s top R&D investors The new report analyses industrial property strategies of the world’s top R&D investors
Sep 29 2017

The ‘digital transformation’ originally affected companies that mainly operated in ICT-related sectors, but it now touches all aspects of our economies and societies.

This is reflected in a new JRC-OECD report, which finds that the largest industrial R&D investors play a leading role in the development of digital technologies. These investors own about 75% of global ICT-related patents, while only 25% of them actually operate in the ICT sector.

Launched at the CONCORDi Conference, the report: "World Corporate Top R&D Investors: Industrial Property Strategies in the Digital Economy" is the result of a long-term collaboration between the JRC and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In a joint effort to provide up-to-date comparable data and state-of-the-art indicators and analysis, the report sets out to answer these questions:

  • What technologies are top R&D investors introducing - and in which markets?
  • What digital technologies are pervading different sectors?
  • What strategies do top R&D investors follow to obtain returns from their investments?

Digital technologies of world’s top R&D investors

The study analyses the innovation-related investments and other activities to generate knowledge and obtain returns through intellectual property (IP) rights deployed by the largest industrial R&D investors worldwide. Evidence suggests that digital technologies are a pillar of their overall strategy. Almost half of the IP5 patent applications filed by these investors in 2012-2014 - and more than a quarter of their trademarks and designs - relate to ICT.

Intellectual property strategies: patents, trademarks and designs
The report focuses on the ‘IP bundle’ of patent, design and trademark data to investigate how new technologies and products are introduced on key markets. While more than half of the top R&D investors use the full IP bundle, relying on a combination of patents and trademarks is also fairly common. Companies in the computer and electronics industry are, by far, the most reliant on IP rights. They account for about 1/3 of the total IP filings of top R&D investors. Other IP-intensive industries include transport equipment, machinery and chemicals.

CONCORDi Conference: Innovation and Industrial Dynamics

The findings of the study have been presented this week at CONCORDi 2017, the biennial European Conference on Corporate R&D and Innovation. Attended by international organisations and top universities, participants explored the role that corporate R&D investments play in the future competitiveness of the European industry.

Scientific contributions presented at the conference show that the EU needs to increase the pace of its industrial modernisation. New technology-based sectors should be fostered in order to address the challenge of creating better jobs and generating value to sustain more inclusive societies. The EU also needs to increase the role of high-tech sectors in the economy. In addition, the considerable innovation potential provided by Europe's local and regional diversity should be even better exploited. It is expected that this scientific evidence will contribute to discussions on the EU's next multiannual financial perspectives (post-2020) and the preparation of the next supporting instruments to research and innovation and industrial policy in Europe.

Background on CONCORDi

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the CONCORDi conference. It has been a pioneer in Europe for its focus on industrial R&D and innovation, its international dimension and for bridging the gap between science and policy-making.  Over the years, participants have enjoyed the insights of three Nobel Laureates: Robert Solow, Eric Maskin and Finn E. Kydland. 

CONCORDi 2017 focuses on "Innovation and Industrial Dynamics: Challenges for the next decade". It will provide a timely opportunity to discuss important aspects of the EU support to research and innovation after Horizon 2020.  This year’s participants include some of the most highly cited researchers in the field, chief editors of leading journals, the JRC Board of Governors and top executives from preeminent academic institutions worldwide. Speakers include Bronwyn H. Hall, the World Economics Forums’ 6th most influential woman in economics of the world.

Organised by the Joint Research Centre in collaboration with the OECD, CONCORDi aims to facilitate dialogue between the academic community and policy-makers in R&D and innovation, in order to jointly identify policy-relevant conclusions and areas where further research and evidence is needed.