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Nanotechnology in Sweden: Tracking Patenting Activity & Links Between Nanotech Firms and Swedish Science

posted on 2023-06-07, 20:47 authored by Martin Meyer
This study presents an analysis of Swedish nanotechnology patents. Currently, Swedish firms and other organisations hold almost 150 US patents. Two out of three of these patents are owned by smaller or start-up firms. There is a strong concentration of patent activity on the three most active companies which together account for more than two in five Swedish nanopatents. Small and start-up enterprises play a dominant role in the instrumentation and sensors field and are also strong in the area of life-science and pharmaceuticals. Large firms are dominant in materials and other established engineering related domains. They also play a role in pharmaceuticals and life-science related nano-patenting, albeit it is not as prominent as some observers may have expected. The study identified also a considerable number of mostly young nanotech-firms for which no patenting activity has been recorded so far. While one must be careful in interpreting these results, the question as to whether proprietary technologies are sufficiently protected might be an issue in individual cases. A patent-based analysis of the industry structure underscores that nanotechnology is not a homogeneous technology area but rather a group of related technologies. Three firm clusters can be identified: (1) a more materials-oriented cluster that includes also firms active in sensors and instrumentation, (2) a life-science/instrumentation related cluster, and (3) an analytics-dominated cluster centred around materials. An analysis purely based on technologies distinguishes two fields - nanotech/pharmaceuticals and optics - that were quite separated from a broad range of instrument/ analytics/semiconductor related technologies. These differences could imply that within nanotechnology fields may follow different ‘innovation logics’. Also, subfields may have reached different stages of development. An examination of the science linkage of Swedish nanotech- patents indicated that about a quarter of all nano-patents in Sweden are related to university researchers. Network maps also indicate that universities contribute substantially to Swedish nanotech development. While there is always room for improvement, the evidence shows that the gap between academe and industry is not as large as it was thought to be a decade ago.


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Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences

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  • Business and Management Publications

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