Proceedings of 17th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators pages:82-97
International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators edition:17 location:Montréal, Canada date:2012
Technological innovations vary considerably in terms of novelty and impact with only a minority of new inventions contributing considerably to economic growth. More recently a number of patent-based indicators have been advanced to capture the different characteristics of technologically important inventions among which the notion ‘radical’ figures prominently. Radical inventions combine a high degree of novelty with a significant impact on future technology trajectories. Within this contribution, we compare and validate these indicators within the field of biotechnology. An extensive analysis of the recent history of biotechnology allows to identify important inventions (n=290) for the time period 1976 – 2001. A considerable number of these inventions have been patented between 1976 and 2001 (n= 216; 75%). For all USPTO biotech patents filed between 1976 and 2001 (n= 84,119) relevant indicators have been calculated. Within a next step, logistic regression models are used to assess which indicators allow to distinguish between important, radical, inventions and their less noticeable counterparts. Our findings suggest the relevance of using multiple, complementary, indicators to capture the multidimensional nature of technological radicalness whereby ex post indicators clearly outperform ex ante indicators in terms of precision and recall.