Innovation and Patenting on the Rise in China

By ideas Matter

Chinese companies are increasingly active users of the patent system to protect their inventions locally and worldwide, as domestic companies in the electronics, machinery, communications and other sectors are upping their investments in R&D and focusing on innovation.

Clarivate Analytics’s recent study ‘2017 Top 100 Chinese Innovators’ reveals some interesting trends in Chinese R&D, innovation and patenting practices which demonstrate that Chinese companies increasingly ‘get it’ when it comes to the importance of developing and protecting their own new technologies and products.  As Clarivate’s Chinese managing director Linda Guo explained, “It is beyond question that innovation has become one of the most important driving forces for China’s future development.”

Some interesting findings from the report, which is based on published patent filing and citation data, research paper publication and citation data, and other information, are as follows:

-China has seen a steady increase in R&D expenditure as a proportion of GDP over the ten years from 2006-2015.  R&D spending has grown by 51% during this period, from 1.37% of GDP in 2006 to 2.07% in 2015.

-China now boasts some of the world’s top basic and applied scientific research papers.  China has a 20.6% share of all such published research, and now ranks number two in its share of ‘highly cited’ research papers.

-The top 100 Chinese innovators include companies from the ‘high tech’ field and a wide range of industrial sectors.  Whilst electronics, computer and communications equipment companies are well represented, other top innovators in China include machinery, automotive, medical devices and consumer goods producers. 

-The majority of the top Chinese innovators are focussed on patenting and protecting their innovations in the domestic market.  Seventy-three of the top 100 organisations have patent portfolios in which 90 percent or more of the applications were filed in China only.

-A growing number of Chinese companies are becoming increasingly active in seeking patent protection globally.  This group is led by ZTE, which filed 66% of its 2012-2016 patent portfolio outside China, followed by Huawei (65%), AMEC (63%), Alibaba (56%) and BOE Technology (38%). These companies are all leading players in the global electronic components, communications equipment and media internet sectors, and reflect China’s growing global influence and impact in these areas.

Whilst there is still more to be done in China to improve the innovation and IP environment, China’s path of economic reform since the 1970s has transformed it into the world’s second-largest economy, at $11.2 trillion second only to the US. 

As Bob Stembridge, Clarivate’s senior IP analyst, explained: “Behind that transformation is a heavy investment in R&D and an emphasis on innovation through the full implementation of the ‘National Strategic Framework for Innovation-Driven Development’, which has seen innovation become the core driving force for development of both public and private enterprise in China.”

For more information, see Clarivate’s press release, blog and full report on the ‘2017 Top 100 Chinese Innovators’.