I retired in April 2013 after 25 years as a librarian at the British Library specialising in inventions. This included running numerous workshops; writing books on inventions and a work blog; carrying out searches for clients; and one-to-one meetings with inventors. [more]


20 December 2014

"Eight great technologies": analysis of patenting in key areas

The UK Intellectual Property Office has recently finished publishing a series of reports analysing the patent landscape in eight high technology areas which the government feels are important areas for the UK to carry out research in in the future.

A concluding report is titled Eight great technologies: a summary of the series of patent landscape reports, and it links on page 22 to PDFs of separate reports on each of the eight areas, or, with related papers, they can be found on this page.

These eight areas are the big-data revolution and energy-efficient computing; satellites and commercial applications of space; robotics and autonomous systems; life-sciences, genomics and synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; agri-science; advanced materials and nano-technology; energy and its storage; quantum technologies; and the Internet of things (IoT). That last topic is intriguing: it is about Bluetooth technologies,where objects talk to other objects, but also the ability of objects to automatically identify themselves to other objects.

The reports discuss the world patent scene in each technology, such as the major players (by entities and by country) and growth by year, followed by a look at the UK scene. For example, in IoT, the top UK player is Neul, a company based in Cambridge which I had not heard of. This is a list of World patent applications by Neul.

A command paper, Innovation and research strategy for growth, by Vince Cable MP (Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills), published as Cm 8239 in 2011, is of interest as it discusses in detail the subject. The measures it advocates include the annual publication of an innovation report on the UK, the latest being Innovation Report 2014, published in March. It also talked of helping the Technology Strategy Board, now called Innovate UK. All this sounds excellent so long as well-trained scientists and technicians can be funded (whether by public money or by industry) to create useful products to benefit the UK economy. For too long there has been lip-service rather than real action.

Eight great technologies is also the title of a discussion paper by David Willetts MP (until July 2014 the Minister for Universities and Science), published in 2013 by the Policy Exchange think tank.

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