On 19-20 May 2011, the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) hosted the fourth Conference on the Economics of Innovation and Patenting. It was also the closing conference of the research network STRIKE funded by the EU funding organisation COST. The conference was attended by more than 110 researchers from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. The conference’s excellent reputation within the world of economics was reflected in the over 170 research papers submitted, of which 48 were chosen to be presented at the conference. The conference itself covered a wide range of topics approached from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.

The topics of papers presented ranged from the financing and incentives for innovation activity in firms to contributing factors in innovation success and the analysis of cooperative research between research institutions and private companies. Other contributions dealt with the role of the researcher as inventor as well as motivation, productivity and other influencing factors. A workshop organised by the CoReach Network focused on various aspects of innovation in China. The value of patents, the strategic behaviour of companies with respect to patent applications as well the most efficient ways to structure the patent system also featured as topics of discussion.

Knowledge diffusion and geographical location

During the plenary lectures, leading researchers presented their latest findings in the field of innovation. Mark Schankerman from the London School of Economics used the US as an example of how knowledge generated by universities often only ends up being diffused locally. In her lecture, Paula Stephan from Georgia State University presented new research approaches in the economics of science, specifically on the previously largely unknown role of equipment and materials in practical research. Frank T. Rothaermel (Georgia Institute of Technology) delivered a lecture on the innovation strategies used by established companies to react to technological developments on the market. Ben Martin (Science and Technology Policy Research, Brighton) provided an overview of the 20 most important developments in innovation research over the past 50 years, as well as an outline of the ways in which scientific studies influence government policy on science and research.

From Lisbon to Europe 2020

The transition from the Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020 was the subject of a panel discussion, which focused primarily on the possibility of creating a “European Research Union”. Debating from the perspective of one of the Member States was Walter Mönig (German Federal Minister of Education and Research), while Agust Ingthorsson (University of Iceland) represented the view of a third-party state. Meanwhile, Christian Tidona (Biotech Cluster Heidelberg) and Reinheilde Veugelers (Catholic University Leuven) provided the business and economic perspective respectively. The discussion was moderated by Marianne Paasi (EU Commission).

Another panel discussion, moderated by Dietmar Harhoff (University of Munich and the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation), looked at the harmonisation of the European patent system with a focus on the Community Patent proposed by the EU. Sitting on the panel were the chief economists at three different patent offices: Nikolaus Thumm (European Patent Office), Tony Clayton (British Patent Office) and Stuart Graham (US Patent Office). The discussion showed that there is still a great need to harmonise the division of responsibilities between the national patent offices and the European Patent Office.

The conference was sponsored by the European research networks STRIKE (Science and Technology Research in a Knowledge-Based Economy) and CAED (Comparative Analysis of Enterprise Data). The Mannheim-based network MaCCI (Mannheim Centre for Competition and Innovation) also provided support for the event.