Science and technology research funded or conducted by the public sector is intended to benefit society by asking questions, tackling issues and solving problems that the market alone won’t. Do we know how well this is working?
It is expected that the outputs of such research are published in the scholarly literature. But we don’t have very good ways to know what economic or social outcomes will emerge from research, and more importantly, we don’t know how to optimize these outcomes for social and economic good.
There is an increasing trend in the last few decades for research results to figure prominently as patent applications and patents, with discoveries and inventions opening new doors or slamming old ones.
Exploring the impact of publicly funded research.But looking at patents that are filed by or granted to our public institutions is not a good proxy metric for economically important innovation. These patents are just pieces of the larger puzzle of creating products and services.
However, it is essential to understand the scope of patenting, and the range of inventions and opportunities enabled by public funds if we are to create a more efficient and equitable innovation system.
The work on these pages is just a rough start. We’ve chosen many of the Australian public institutions – Universities, government research agencies, medical research bodies – and used The Lens to create draft, open, public collections of their patent portfolios.
These collections are open, editable, shareable and exploreable. And they are *not* definitive.
With these collections – viewed in the context of global patents and scholarly literature – the public and private sector can better understand how the jigsaw puzzle of economic and social good can be assembled from these scattered pieces.