Fact of the Week: Twenty-Eight Percent of Patents by U.S. Inventors in 2017 Relied on Federal Research

Caleb Foote June 29, 2020
June 29, 2020

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Source: L. Fleming, et al., “Government-funded research increasingly fuels innovation,” Science, June 2019.

Commentary: When the government invests in research and development, the innovations that are discovered have ripple effects, opening doors to new avenues of research. A new study has examined the magnitude of this effect, looking at patents from 1976 to 2017 to identify those which are directly connected to government research, either through government funding or through citing government patents or papers. It finds that a substantial portion of patents (28.2 percent in 2017) rely on government-funded research, and that its importance has increased over time, only passing 10 percent in 1975 and 20 percent in 1997.