We have been experimenting with ways to represent the inventor networks that we can extract from patent databases. In this post, I will focus on New Zealand’s largest inventor network, as extracted from 30 years of European Patent Office (EPO) data. The network gives us a glimpse of New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem.
At the left is a network we have constructed showing the largest group of connected inventors in New Zealand. Each red dot represents an inventor, and the size of the dot represents the number of patents on which that person is named. Inventors are connected by a blue line where they have shared a patent.
There are four hundred and fifty inventors in the network, and it links fourteen New Zealand companies: Fonterra, A2 Corporation, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Genesis Research and Development, Wrightson Seeds, Biojoule, Sensortec, Arborgen, Protemix, Neuren Pharmaceuticals, Brainz Instruments Ltd, Dashfoot Ltd, Vital Food Processors Limited and Envirofocus Ltd. A number of international pharmaceutical companies are linked together through this network, including Chiron Corporation, Cancer Research Technology, Xenova Limited, Proteotech, Pharmacia & Upjohn (now part of Pfizer) and Warner-Lambert (also now part of Pfizer).
Four of the Crown Research Institutes are in this network (Crop and Food Research, NIWA, Industrial Research Ltd and AgResearch) as well as three universities (Massey University, the University of Otago, the University of Auckland) and the Malaghan Institute. There are also scientists from several of the Centres of Research Excellence: the Maurice Wilkins Centre, the Riddet Institute and the MacDiarmid Institute.
This is a very interesting snapshot of New Zealand’s innovation sector. It links several of New Zealand’s largest companies to much smaller startups. It links a company that manufactures advanced respirators to a company that sells seeds. It links researchers from several of our major public sector research organisations to those in several of our most R&D intensive companies. It really does suggest there is an innovation ecosystem out there!
If we geolocate the inventors by the addresses listed on the patents, we can get an idea of the geographical spread of the network. The image on the right (generated using Google Earth) shows that the network stretches from Northland to Dunedin. It is truly a national network, although its heart is in Auckland. Try it out yourself – the kmz data file is available here (and you can get Google Earth here). Viewing the data file in Google Earth will enable you to zoom in on particular regions in detail. You will be able to see the connections between individual researchers.
Here is a close up of Auckland and its inventors in the network:
So go take a look. In the next few weeks, we will be releasing the full EPO patent map of New Zealand in Google Earth and also a map that traces our international linkages.
We are also interested in improving the usefulness of these maps — at the moment you will find both the inventors’ and the applicants’ names on the map, but we would like to add subject areas and other information. Let us know if you have any ideas!
P.s. I would like to thank Catriona Sissons for her hard work in putting these maps together. She has worked with me since 2008 on patent analysis, but recently moved to Melbourne to try life on the other side of the Tasman.