Tag Archives: economics

Study finds that black, hispanic and women inventors lack opportunity and role models

Economic hardship and lack of exposure to innovation are preventing minorities, low-income backgrounds and women from becoming inventors. 

Those are the findings of “Lost Einsteins: Innovation and Opportunity in American,” conducted by the Equality of Opportunity Project (EOP). The study was conducted by researchers from Stanford, Harvard, the London School of Economics and MIT.

EOP analyzed the lives of more than one million inventors in the United States to understand the factors that determine who becomes an inventor in America.

“If women, minorities, and children from low-income families invent at the same as high-income white men,” the study concluded, “the innovation rate in America would quadruple.”

Patent Grants vs. Patent Success

Dramatic differences in patent grants do not account for lack of patent success.

The report did not examine reasons for the failure of  “advantaged” inventors – those from better socio-economic background – to establish businesses, generate licenses and otherwise contribute successfully to innovation and technology. This may more likely be a result of weakened IP laws under the American Invents Act and a general lack of support for inventors, including those associated with corporate research departments and research institutions.

The study concluded that children who excelled in math were far more likely to become inventors but that being a math standout was not enough. Only the top students who also came from high-income families had a decent chance of becoming an inventor.

Low-income students who are among the very best math students – those who score in the top 5% of all third graders – are no more likely to become inventors than below-average math students from affluent families.

While minority inventors certainly should be nurtured, the high failure rate of innovators who had the benefit of and privilege raises serious questions about whether financial support and role-models are the only resources bright people from minority groups need to succeed.

The full Intangible Investor, “Minority Inventors ‘Lost,'” in the March IAM magazine, go here

Study documents for the Equal Opportunity Project – including an executive summary, slides and a paper – can be found here

For the summary slides alone, from which the above images were generated, go here.

Image source: equality-of-opportunity.org

“Building an Innovation Economy” is focus of latest Hoover IP² event

IP², an initiative of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, last week hosted a more than 60 IP scholars, economists and practitioners to hear and challenge research about “Building and Innovation Economy – The Mechanics of the Patent System.” 

Hoover IP2 is a working group on intellectual property, innovation and prosperity. Its goals are to build a network of scholars from a variety of academic disciplines, to undertake research based on evidence and reason, and to disseminate the research results. Conferences, such as this, that include economists, legal experts, political scientists, and practitioners and that present original research, help achieve these goals.

Lively Discourse

Presenters, discussants and moderators participated in the sessions, to which I was invited to attend, in a room with two tiers of circular seating. The setting encourages discourse, as well as abundant audience questions in the true spirit of peer-review.


Presenting participants included:  Jay P. Kesan (University of Illinois College of Law), F. Scott Kieff (ITC Commissioner, formerly of George Washington University School of Law and a former Senior Hoover Fellow), Colleen Chien (Santa Clara University College of Law) and Bo Heiden (the Center for IP Studies in Gothenburg, Sweden), James Pooley (former World IP Organization head), Damon Mateo (formerly IP executive with H-P and PARC), and IP2 Steering Committee Chair, Stephen Haber (Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and a Hoover Fellow).

For the agenda and presenters, go here.

Audience participants included Irv Rappaport (formerly Chief Patent Counsel at Apple and National Semiconductor, and an expert witness), Ron Laurie (a director of WiLAN and former partner in the Palo Alto office of Paul Weiss), Suzanne Harrison (The Gathering 2.0) and Dr. Ron Katznelson (an inventor, patent analyst and scholar).

Sharing Ideas

Lively discussion and cordial debate ensued. Opinions were divided on some topics, such as patent assertion entities (PAEs) and the value of standards essential patents (SEPs). However, all of those present had an opportunity to have their perspective heard and responded to.

Hoover IP²’s goals are to:

  • ip2-logo130Build a dense network of scholars, from a variety of academic disciplines, who are engaged in research on the US patent system
  • Analyze the implications that may be drawn from those research results
  • Publish the resulting scholarship in peer-reviewed venues
  • Disseminate that scholarship to the larger public

More the this lively interaction is needed, and Pfizer and Qualcomm are to be commended for their lead support. For more information about Hoover IP² or past programs, go here.

Image source: hooverip2.org


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