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News : Innovation Last Updated: Jan 22, 2015 - 4:53 AM


Irish resident patenting not suggestive of 'world class knowledge economy'
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Aug 4, 2014 - 8:53 AM

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The Government on Thursday published the 2013 annual report of the Irish Patents Office (IPO) and the year was the official target set in 2016 for Ireland to be internationally recognised as a 'world class knowledge economy.'

The science strategy report in 2006 did not specifically frame the goal that way but Micheál Martin then enterprise minister, did.

The IPO received 390 patent applications in 2013 down from 561 in 2011. In 2006 935 applications were received with 838 from Ireland.

In 2013 there were 333 applications where the first applicant was an Irish resident (including foreign-owned firms in Ireland) down from 492 in 2012 - - this is the lowest since the early 1980s according to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) data.

Patent grants by the IPO in 2006 were at 357 and 214 in 2013.

European Patent Office grants to Irish residents covering 38 countries were at 121 in 2006 and 187 in 2013.

The chart above shows Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications that could have been filed in up to 148 countries in 2013.

Given the focus on research over the past decade, the patenting performance has been poor.

Gerard Barrett, IPO controller, signed the annual report on June 10 and it was only published on Thursday (July 31) because Finfacts made an issue of it.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation told Finfacts on Thursday that the report had been filed with the Houses of the Oireachtas before the end of June.

Why then did the Department suppress the report?

Gerard Barrett commented in the 2013 report: "the European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard for 2014 saw Ireland move up one place to ninth out of 28 EU Member States. The annual Innovation Union Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the 28 EU Member States and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. Ireland was the overall leader in the indicator of the economic effects of innovation. This captures the economic success of innovation in employment in knowledge-intensive activities, the contribution of medium and high-tech product exports to the trade balance, exports of knowledge-intensive services, sales due to innovation activities and license and patent revenues from selling technologies abroad."

This is a fantasy.

We were in contact with the European Commission last year when their first innovation indicator was published.

The metrics used for Ireland are heavily distorted 1) computer services exports of almost €40bn mainly reflect massive tax avoidance by US firms b) half the staff in ICT firms are not techies according to an estimate by Gartner, the US firm c) R&D by tax inverted American companies is counted as Irish:

The 2012 "EU Industrial R&D Scoreboard" noted:

Three companies based in Ireland contributed 68% of that country's R&D investment: Seagate Technology (15.0%), Covidien (23.9%) and Accenture (31.2%)."

These 3 companies are only Irish because they have located their head offices in Ireland. Seagate spent $1bn on R&D in 2011 but not in Ireland. The figures in brackets are in respect of annual growth.

Top Irish PCT Applicants in 2012: WIPO: Foreign-owned companies & universities but no big exporter Publication Rank
SKYPE 24 817
DIGITALOPTICS CORPORATION EUROPE LIMITED 13 1440
SKYPE LIMITED 12 1540
COLLEGE OF THE HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY OF QUEEN ELIZABETH NEAR DUBLIN (TRINITY COLLEGE) 10 1799
DEPUY (IRELAND) LIMITED 10 1799
ELEMENT SIX LIMITED 9 1978
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK 9 1978
ACCENTURE GLOBAL SERVICES LIMITED 8 2207
DUBLIN CITY UNIVERSITY 8 2207
JANSSEN R & D IRELAND 7 2485

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