Inventive Output of Academic Research: a Comparison of Two Science Systems

Martin S. Meyer, Mariette Du Plessis, Tania Tukeva, Jann-Timour Utecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper compares the inventive output of two science systems in small European countries. More specifically, we examine patented inventions of Finnish and Flemish university researchers. The comparison includes inventive output as such and its concentration on organizations, inventors, and corporate owners as well as foreign assignations and the degree to which individual inventors have retained the ownership of the patents. While there are commonalities between the Finnish and Flemish systems in terms of patent concentration on key institutions and corporate assignees, there are also pronounced differences with respect to the ownership structure of academic patents, which was expected in light of the different intellectual property regulations. Our observations seem to suggest that the total inventive output of a research system is not a function of the prevailing intellectual property system but rather in correspondence to overall national inventiveness thereby pointing to more general (national, cultural) drivers of academic inventive activity. From a methodological viewpoint, this research illustrates that tracing university-owned patents alone would leave considerable technological contributions of academics unidentified - also in countries where universities own the rights to their researchers? patents. Another finding with potential methodological implications is that patents are highly concentrated on institutions. If such a distribution law applies to large countries as well, analysts could cover most of the national academic patent output by an intelligent selection of universities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-161
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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