|22 December 2015|

A report released last month reveals Japan and the US are leading the way in driving innovation in key frontier technologies.

Published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, it recognises the two countries for their work in 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics.

The World Intellectual Property Report 2015: Breakthrough Innovation and Economic Growth shows how previous game-changing advancements – such as airplanes, antibiotics and semiconductors – sparked new business activity. The report probes today’s promising breakthrough innovations, while urging governments and business to step up innovation-related investment.

“Historical technological breakthroughs have been at the root of long-lasting expansions in economic output,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry. “Successful innovation, at the company level or across the wider economy, requires perseverance, particularly in periods of anemic growth when innovation budgets are under pressure. We need to reinforce the environments that give rise to the breakthrough technologies of tomorrow.”

Japanese companies are leading innovation in the area of robotics. Eight out of the top ten patent applicants in the area of robotics are from Japan – namely, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Denso, Hitachi, Panasonic, Yaskawa, and Sony. The two others are Bosch, from Germany, and Samsung of the Republic of Korea.

Fostering innovation

The report identifies key elements of successful innovation ecosystems: government funding for scientific research and support in moving promising technology from the laboratory to the production stage; competitive market forces that encourage firms to innovate, supported by vibrant financial markets and sound regulation; and fluid linkages between public and private innovation actors.