What’s likely to be the “next big thing?” What might be the most fertile areas for innovation? Where should countries and companies invest their limited research funds? What technology areas are a company’s competitors pursuing?
To help answer those questions, researchers, policymakers and research and development (R&D) directors study patent maps, which provide a visual representation of where universities, companies and other organizations are protecting intellectual property produced by their research. But finding real trends in these maps can be difficult because categories with large numbers of patents—pharmaceuticals, for instance—are usually treated the same as areas with few patents, according to a 14 January press statement by Georgia Institute of Technology.
Now, a new patent mapping system that considers how patents cite one another may help researchers better understand the relationships between technologies. The system, which also categorizes patents in a new way, was produced by a team of researchers from three universities and an Atlanta-based producer of data-mining software.
“What we are trying to do is forecast innovation pathways,” said Alan Porter, professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy and the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the project’s principal investigator.
Patent maps for major corporations can show where those firms plan to diversify, or conversely, where their technological weaknesses are. Looking at a nation’s patent map might also suggest areas where R&D should be expanded to support new areas of innovation, or to fill gaps that may hinder economic growth, he said. “You can see where the portfolio is, and how it is changing,” said an adjunct associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. “In the case of nanotechnology, for example, you can see that most of the patents are in materials and physics, though over time the number of patents in the bio-nano area is growing.”
Pitch language plays role success of crowd-funding projects
Researchers at Georgia Tech studying the burgeoning phenomenon of crowd-funding have learned that the language used in online fund-raising hold surprisingly predictive power about the success of such campaigns. As part of their study of more than 45,000 projects on Kickstarter, assistant professor Eric Gilbert and doctoral candidate Tanushree Mitra reveal dozens of phrases that pay and a few dozen more that may signal the likely failure of a crowd-sourced effort.
“Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles,” said Gilbert, who runs the Comp. Social Lab at Georgia Tech, in a 14 January press statement. “For example, those campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity—that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge—and the perceptions of social participation and authority, generated the greatest amount of funding.”
While offering donors a gift may improve a campaign’s success, the study found the language project creators used to express the reward made the difference. For example, the phrases “also receive two,” “has pledged” and “project will be” strongly foretell that a project will reach funding status, while phrases such as “dressed up”, “not been able” and “trusting” are attached to unfunded projects.
The researchers examined the success of Pebble, which is the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date with more than $10 million in pledges, and compared it to Ninja Baseball, a well-publicized PC game that only earned a third of its $10,000 goal.
For their research, Gilbert and Mitra assembled a list of all Kickstarter projects launched as of 2 June 2012, and had reached their last date of fund collection. Of the more than 45,000 projects, 51.53% were successfully funded while 48.47% were not. After accounting for variables such as funding goals, video, social media connections, categories and pledge levels, the researchers focused on more than 20,000 phrases before compiling a dictionary of more than 100 phrases with predictive powers of success or failure.
The research suggested that the language used by creators to pitch their project plays a major role in driving the project’s success, accounting for 58.56% of the variance around success.
Compiled by a staff writer