Patents: Australia vs New Zealand

By Shaun Hendy 02/11/2009

The All Blacks may have swept the Wallabies in the Bledisloe Cup this year, but how do New Zealand and Australia stack up on innovation? A few posts ago I looked at how New Zealand’s patents were distributed regionally. Using an OECD database of PCT patents from 1978-2008, I found that Auckland had the most patents per capita of any New Zealand city (naturally I was interviewed about this late last week by the Herald). But how do New Zealand cities compare to Australian cities in patents per capita?

AusNZ Patents by RegionTo make the comparison, I have graphed the New Zealand and Australian city data together. Overall, the Australians are about a third ahead on patents per capita: there is one PCT patent for every 750 Australians compared to one for every 1000 New Zealanders.

However, we don’t do so badly when we compare cities. In fact Auckland compares well with the similar sized city of Adelaide, and even stacks up well against Brisbane. Where Australia gets ahead of us is through Sydney and Melbourne, with one patent for every 550 people. 

As discussed earlier, this trend for larger cities to have more patents per capita has also been noted in data from the United States. It appears to hold in Australasia too, although Canberra bucks this trend with one patent for every 200 people. Thanks to CSIRO, Canberra is the most inventive city per capita in Australasia. 

Nonetheless, why do bigger cities tend to have more patents per capita than smaller cities? I will look at this in later posts.

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