Mapping the International Evolution of Collaboration Networks on Patents Granted to Universities around the World

Margaret M. Clements

This project, which is co-funded by the Science, Technology & Society (STS) and Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) Programs at NSF under grant number 0925915, studies how knowledge flows between and among academic scientific inventors around the world. University patents are the object of analysis for this study because patents reflect both knowledge production and diffusion. By analyzing collaborations between inventors and institutions on patents granted to universities around the world, the following questions are addressed: How does knowledge flow between academic inventors? How do country characteristics, national policies, and institutional practices shape knowledge diffusion? To what extent do individual academic inventors direct the flow of knowledge?

From a policy perspective, the international impact of the Bayh-Dole Act--a bipartisan legislative effort to facilitate technology development and transfers between industry, the academy and federal laboratories--is examined. This study traces knowledge diffusion as a complex system by combining methodological approaches that include network analysis, network visualization, patent citation analysis, temporal analysis, and topical analysis. This project: demonstrates important relationships between academic inventors and inter-organizational networks around the world; analyzes patents as an artifact of important processes of knowledge diffusion; and describes the shape, structure and evolution of scientific collaborations on university patents around the globe.

The findings of this study will provide substantive information that may be of use to organizations and science and technology policymakers in designing and implementing policies for knowledge diffusion and innovation. This study intends to make fundamental contributions to theoretical knowledge about complex systems and processes of knowledge diffusion.

*Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation