Today, global markets are competitive. Very competitive. The pressure to get ahead by being the first to market is increasing daily, as more and more competitors from emerging markets are entering the global stage. Time is of the essence, so new innovations need to be conceived and realized as fast as possible to gain an advantage.
In this climate, how can you find ways to accelerate innovation and stay ahead of your competition? One way is to monitor the leading indicators of change within the speed and volume of global patent applications across different markets. Such data sets can provide you with novel insights that you can use to adjust your business strategy and remain the leader in your field.
How global patent trends can help direct business strategy
Data from global patent application rates across the developing and developed world highlight some interesting recent trends. For example, China is growing faster than any country across the globe when it comes to new patent registrations. As well as China, patent applications from emerging markets like India, Brazil and Korea, have all shown a marked increase.
But what about the traditionally dominant markets? Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) show that the U.S. and many other European countries are also showing impressive growth year over year. Conversely, Japan has shown a decline in global patent applications.
However, the volume of global patent applications is not only the indicator of a market’s innovation growth; other factors such as government spending and economics, currency fluctuations and changes to global patent laws, can all affect the number of patents applied for.
Analyzing patent trends can benefit many areas of your business. By understanding the relevant technology field, you can often predict market needs ahead of time, as well as select the best time to up- or down-regulate your R&D investment. Scrutinizing patent trends also allows you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, which you can leverage to direct your future business strategy.
The impact of open innovation, collaboration and diversification
Another way to assess trends within global innovation is by examining diversification, especially as novel discoveries and ideas are emerging from a more diverse range of sources than ever before. One factor driving these new sources is the concept of ‘open innovation’, which is fueling new global partnerships, business relationships and collaborations. Open innovation removes the boundaries to partnership by making more information open access and encouraging the sharing of knowledge between industry, academia and government institutions.
One example of open innovation in action is the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC). The SGC is a collaboration between government research institutes, major pharmaceutical companies and leading universities. It aims to innovate within the field of drug discovery by improving our understanding of the 3D structures of human proteins – importantly, it makes its research openly accessible to the public, so that further collaboration and innovation is possible.
The mixing of ideas and technologies from different sectors, countries and industries will likely be a future driver of global innovation. Therefore, it is important to both monitor the collaborations springing up within your industry, as well as explore how open innovation initiatives and partnerships could stimulate and support new ideas within your own organization.
How looking deeper into specific market segments offers additional insights
Interestingly, the pace of global innovation does not just vary globally, it also varies by discipline. In markets like the US and Europe, technologies like pharmaceuticals, wireless communication and digital information continue to prove a breeding ground for innovation, attracting investment and resources.
In contrast, emerging markets are currently tending to focus on a few specialized areas, many of which are outside of those targeted by companies in developed areas of the world. For example, China and Korea are responsible for almost three quarters of the global patent applications related to graphene use since 2000.
How can trends within specific market areas produce actionable business insights? An illustrative example is the chemical film industry, which saw global patent activity decrease by 83% from 2005 to 2010, as digital cameras and mobile phones rapidly took over the market. This trend highlights how, as one technology shrinks, another can often emerge to push out the previous leader.
In another example, the advent of self-driving cars and drones has driven an increase in patents for unmanned vehicles in recent years. But by looking at the global patent applications, they actually began to appear as early as 2005. This shows the powerful predictive potential that analyzing global markets can provide.
Why you should start analyzing global innovation trends today
Increased competition due to globalization comes with increased pressure to be the first to market. This makes it more important than ever to find new ways to see the future before it happens and adjust your business strategy accordingly.
Global innovation trends can provide important insights and monitoring them should be a key component of your competitive intelligence process. Microtrends and leading indicators within these datasets can help reduce the risks of unexpected disruption from non-traditional competitors and help uncover new areas of opportunity.
However, monitoring these trends and calculating their relevance to your business can be a daunting task, as it often requires global data sources and thorough analysis. To help, we’ve published a brief new report on microtrends in global R&D growth, which provides insights into some important recent R&D trends from across the globe.
How can your organization analyze the latest global innovation trends for a competitive advantage? Learn how CAS can help.