Breaking Down the Research Efforts

Research corridors are not new. In our neighbor to the north, the University Research Corridor has been a strong performer over a number of years.

The State Science & Technology Institute has this brief recap of a recent analysis:

Michigan’s University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, conducted $1.2 billion in academic R&D in the life, medical and health sciences, and served as a stabilizing force to the state’s economy as one of the only sectors that grew during the 2000s. Those are among the findings of the 2017 URC sector report, which was prepared by Public Sector Consultants.

The report, Leading Discovery: URC Contributions to the Life, Medical and Health Sciences, notes that employment in the life, medical and health sciences sector, which accounts for one in eight jobs in Michigan, is up 18.9 percent since 2000, compared to overall Michigan employment, which is down 9.3 percent.

The URC also was successful in moving discoveries out of the lab and into the marketplace. From 2012 to 2016, the following results relating to the life, medical and health sciences sector were found:

• 1,348 inventions reported by researchers
• 380 U.S. patents issued
• 433 new license agreements
• 32 new startup companies
• $142 million in royalties earned

Adding Up the Patent Numbers

Good news: The U.S. produced more global patents in 2011 than the year before. The not so good news: Our overall share decreased, while Japan and China recorded significant increases.

Over 181,900 international patents were filed in 2011, up 10.7 percent from 2010, according to estimated data from the World International Patent Organization (WIPO). China, Japan and the U.S. accounted for 82% of the total growth, the highest since 2005.

Estimated data was collected from the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treat (PCT) system. The PCT system facilitates the process of seeking patent protection across its over 140-member countries by postponing the requirement to file a separate application in each country until after a centralized processing and initial patentability evaluation have taken place.

The U.S., with an estimated 48,596 filings (26.7 percent of all patents filled worldwide in 2011), remained the largest user of the PCT system. The U.S. was followed by Japan (38,888 fillings; 21.4 percent of all patents filled), Germany (18,568 fillings; 10.2 percent of all patents filled) and China (16,406 fillings; 9.0 percent of all patents filled).

However, the U.S. (0.7 percent decrease) saw a drop in its shares of total filings, while China (1.5 percent increase) and Japan (1.8 percent increase) each increased their share by more than a percentage point.

The report also looked at patent fillings in 35 technology sectors. Digital communication technologies (7.1 percent published applications) accounted for the largest share of estimated PCT applications in 2011. It was followed by electronic machinery (6.9%), medical technology (6.6%) and computer technology (6.4%). Electronic machinery (23.2%) saw the fastest growth between 2010 and 2011, and another 11 sectors experienced double-digit growth.

University Research … and Its Results

Some interesting facts from an annual Purdue technology report:

  • A record $438 million in sponsored research programs for fiscal year 2009-10, a 28 percent increase over the previous fiscal year 
  • Every $1 million in research funding supports employment for seven full-time employees 
  • Purdue received 48 issued patents for 2009, compared to 24 for 2008
  • The four Purdue Research Park business incubators house more than 200 companies that employ about 4,000 people. The average annual wage of those employees is $54,000
  • According to Joe Hornett of the Purdue Research Foundation, "Sixty-four of our park-based companies are a direct result of discoveries from Purdue and another 25 companies in our park network work with Purdue faculty to advance new technologies. Many of these companies were formed from research that faculty advanced through federal and state grants that Purdue received." 

The university notes that "a significant amount of funding Purdue received was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," but adds that focus in the following five areas has been crucial: life and health sciences; cyberinfrastructure and information technology; defense, security and space sciences; energy and environment; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, or STEM.

Classify that under "Boiler Up!" and keep it up as Indiana’s higher education institutions need to play a pivotal role in our state’s economic future.

Patent Problem: Numbers Take a Big Drop

We’ve pondered in the past, both in this space and in BizVoice magazine, about what economic indicators people pay the most attention to. The same argument can apply to the innovation economy — which numbers and statistics are most important?

Tough call. One measure taking a rather significant drop through the middle portion of this decade is the number of patents produced per employee in each state. Two alphabetical groups provide the data: USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) compiles the numbers and SSTI (State Science & Technology Institute) puts them in comparative form.

The results:

  • A total patent drop of over 10% between 2003 and 2007, with 43 states experiencing declines
  • Indiana’s performance over that period was even lower, a 19.9% decline, ranking it 35th over the five years. Overall, Indiana remained 25th in 2007, its same relative ranking as 2003
  • At the low end of patents per employees are Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Arkansas and Louisiana
  • Idaho led the nation with 210 patents per 100,000 employees. Other in the top five (with a strong Western flavor) were Vermont, California, Washington and Oregon

An SSTI chart details the numbers.