US inventors have continued to dominate biotechnology innovation since the first commercialisation of biotechnology in the USA in the mid-1980s. Material analysed from Silico Research’s database of 22,000 biotechnology-related patents filed at the USPTO indicates that the USA continues to dominate the biotechnology space. In 2006 67 per cent of the inventors filing biotechnology-related patents at the USPTO were based in the USA. The percentage of American based inventors has been steadily rising since 1980 when they made up 52 per cent of the total. By comparison the number of non-US inventors has been decreasing, falling from 48 per cent in 1980 to 33 per cent in 2006.
While American inventors are continuing to dominate the space, the number of countries filing biotechnology-related patents at the USPTO has been increasing, rising from 10 in 1980 to a peak of 44 in 2002. Cross border collaborations have also been steadily increasing over time, rising from 1 country per patent in 1980 to 1.18 countries per patent in 2006.
Outside of the USA, inventors filing biotechnology-related patents are highly concentrated in Tokyo in Japan. The number of inventors from Tokyo listed in the patents rose from 352 in the period 1972-95 to 635 in 2000-06. Tokyo comes highest for the number of inventors filing patents for monoclonal antibody technology and stem cells. Many of the Tokyo based inventors are assigning their patents to pharmaceutical companies such as Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, Sankyo Pharmaceuticals, Teijin Ltd and Daiichi Pharmaceuticals. Inventors based in Osaka come second in the league table of number of inventors per town, numbering 242 in 2000-06. The Japanese city, Ibaraki, which is within communting distance of Osaka and Kyoto, follows closely numbering 225 inventors. As is the case for Tokyo the bulk of the inventors filing at he USPTO are assigning their patents to pharmaceutical companies, including Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
Vancouver in Canada had the third highest number of inventors listed by town for all biotechnology-related patents for the years 2000-06, totalling 228. The majority of these inventors assigned their patents to the University of British Columbia. Inventors based in Vancouver ranked second after Tokyo for patents relating to stell cell technology, many assigning their patents to biotechnology companies such as Stemcel Technologies Inc. The high profile of Vancouver in recent years might reflect the fact that in 2004 British Columbia enabled companies to receive a tax refund based on revenue generated from life sciences patents (75%, up to $8 million/year).