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12.12.2019 13:33

Science Quality and the Value of Inventions – New Study in Science Advances

Dr. Myriam Rion Pressestelle
Max-Planck-Institut für Innovation und Wettbewerb

    The new study “Science Quality and the Value of Inventions” by researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, has now been published in the renowned journal Science Advances. The study shows a strong positive correlation between the scientific quality of research contributions and the economic value of patents based on these contributions.

    Science governance and funding seek to promote excellent science output by allocating resources to those projects, researchers and institutions from which outstanding results are expected. But the commonly used measures for scientific quality, such as the number of citations, do not take into account the potential of scientific results for technology transfer and commercialization.

    The findings of the new study “Science Quality and the Value of Inventions” by Poege et al. imply that what is considered excellent within the science sector also leads to outstanding outcomes in the technological and commercial realm. Excellent scientific articles are referenced in substantially more patent documents than articles with lower scientific quality. Patents with references to often-cited scientific contributions are of much higher commercial value than patents referring to less-cited publications.

    The analysis comprises references to scientific contributions from 4.8 million patent families of the European Patent Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and approximately 43 million scientific publications in the Web of Science from the year 1980 onwards.

    Previously known was the fact that patents with references to scientific publications are substantially more valuable than patents without a direct science link. The new study contributes the insight that the quality of the scientific bases is of crucial importance. Patents with references to excellent scientific publications are particularly valuable, while this does not apply to patents with references to low quality scientific publications.

    The results indicate that quality measures commonly used in science can serve as good criteria for a system of science funding which simultaneously provides a basis for societal benefit and technological progress.


    Science Advances is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary open access journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and complements the journal Science, referred to as Science Magazine, which has been published since 1880.


    The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition is committed to fundamental legal and economic research on processes of innovation and competition and their regulation. The research focuses on the incentives, determinants and implications of innovation. With an outstanding international team of scholars and excellent scientific and administrative infrastructure including the renowned library, the Institute hosts academics from all over the world and actively promotes young researchers. The Institute informs and guides legal and economic discourse on an impartial basis. As an independent research institution, it provides evidence-based research results to academia, policymakers, the private sector as well as the general public.


    Dr. Myriam Rion
    Science Communication and Press

    Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
    Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research
    Phone: +49 89 24246-553

    Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

    Prof. Dietmar Harhoff, Ph.D.

    Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
    Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research
    Phone: +49 89 24246-550

    (Appointments for telephone interviews pls in advance via e-mail.)


    Poege, Felix; Harhoff, Dietmar; Gaessler, Fabian; Baruffaldi, Stefano Horst (2019). Science Quality and the Value of Inventions, Science Advances, 5 (12), eaay7323 (11 December 2019).

    DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7323

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