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The dual frontier: Patented inventions and prior scientific advance

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Science  11 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6351, pp. 583-587
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9527

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Picking up a patent

What is the relationship between patents and scientific advances? Ahmadpoor and Jones devised a metric for the “distance” between patentable inventions and prior research to study this question. They analyzed the relationship between 4.8 million U.S. patents and 32 million research articles. Universities tended to cite their own research directly in their patents (in other words, a distance of 1), but the distance was greater for companies, suggesting that companies may rely on outsiders for their foundational research. The distance varied by discipline, with nanotechnology and computer science having the shortest distances between published research and patents.

Science, this issue p. 583