Patents as Reference Points in the Search for Scientific Breakthroughs
The National Training Workshop for Technology and Innovation Support Centres’ personnel ended on 29 November, 2018 at the Higher School of Economics; it was organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Rospatent, and the Federal Institute of Industrial Property (FIIP), and lasted for three days at various venues. HSE experts presented their approaches to patent analysis, and legal protection of intellectual property. According to the workshop participants, the university’s research in patent statistics and big data analysis (which is playing an increasingly important role in the area) was most impressive, and contributed to extending knowledge horizons.
Technology and Innovation Support Centres (TISCs) is the WIPO’s international project being implemented in Russia since 2011 jointly with Rospatent on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the WIPO. 170 such centres are currently operating in 70 Russian regions. One of them was opened in 2018 at HSE, at the initiative of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, which actively applies patent analysis in many of its projects.
A detailed presentation of the Higher School of Economics’ growth as a multidisciplinary university conducting about 650 major studies a year, covering a wide range of scientific domains, was made by Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector and ISSEK Director. In terms of the amount of R&D HSE is one of the top three Russian universities. The value of properly registered intellectual activities’ results created by the university amounts to 290 million roubles. HSE pursues an extremely open IP policy, not just comparable with best international practices but in certain respects exceeding them. According to the First Vice Rector, the university’s priority for the coming years is integrating its IP management system into the IPChain platform. Based on the blockchain technology and unique in the world, this platform will allow to register HSE’s IP in an innovative, more transparent and convenient way, and promote and commercialise educational products, analytical and methodological materials.
Elena Selivanova, Head of the Department of Legal Support of Research Activities, provided a detailed description of the HSE’s IP management system and the approaches which helped the university become a recognised leader in providing legal support for research. In particular, HSE contributed to shaping the template 'IP Policy for Universities and Research Institutes' approved in October, 2018 by the WIPO and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.
An Emotional Conversation about Data Analysis
The workshop’s another cross-cutting topic was approaches to assessing technological development, where patent analysis is one of the key tools. Leonid Gokhberg, HSE First Vice Rector spoke about applying the results in statistical measurement of the R&D sphere, assessing business climate in science, and in HSE’s S&T foresight projects. More specific presentations about relevant topics were made by leading HSE researchers Konstantin Fursov, Ekaterina Streltsova, Alexander Chulok, and Ilya Kuzminov. Using real case studies as examples, they demonstrated how patent analysis, and intelligent big data analysis were applied (the latter is increasingly turning into a very efficient research tool) and described the key trends in processing such data which indicate growing demand for patent analytics on all decision-making levels.
Ekaterina Streltsova, Senior Research Fellow at the ISSEK, presented the experience of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge which serves as the basis of one of the Russian TISCs. She described approaches to identifying ICT competency centres for the Moscow supercluster, and studying the R&D sphere and emerging technologies generally. The expert spoke about emergence of a new patent analysis model, noting growing demand for cross-validation of relevant conclusions using various data types, in particular through intelligent big data analysis.
Big data hasn’t yet completely replaced tacit expert knowledge and is unlikely ever to do so, comforted the workshop participants Alexander Chulok, Director of the ISSEK Centre for S&T Foresight. However, would it be possible to understand, e.g., the complex, dynamic multidisciplinary trends, or get an idea about 'wild cards' (hard-to-predict events with low probability of occurring, but potentially capable of radically changing the situation) using just 'manual' analysis? In his presentation the speaker described the potential and limitations of patent analytics as an S&T foresight tool. The potential was definitely in the lead, which was confirmed by the next presentation.
After a demonstration of the intelligent big data analysis system iFORA designed by the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (it was presented by Ilya Kuzminov, Head of the ISSEK Information and Analytical Systems Unit), many participants raised the issue of the extent such artificial intelligence-based tools can replace human intelligence, and manual patent analysis. They indeed significantly accelerate data processing, and help experts move on beyond the 'beaten track' which has emerged after many years of studies and identify new connections at the junction of various knowledge areas, noted Ilya. However, 'the more AI develops, the stronger is the need for relevant manual work'. E.g. a major, and purely human task which can be described using the 'data + emotions' formula emerges when the results of processing huge data volumes need to be transformed into a narrative. That’s when 'actionable intelligence' is actually produced.
The expert community was suitably impressed by the Higher School of Economics’ results in, and approaches to patent analytics and IP management. This overall assessment was expressed in the concluding remarks by Tatiana Kuznetsova, Head of the FIIP All-Russian Patent and Technology Library. She noted that the cutting-edge techniques and practical solutions presented at the workshop could help strengthen the community of Technology and Innovation Support Centres’ participants further, and suggested such discussions should be annually held at HSE.
See also: Technology Transfer, IP Education and New Services Were Discussed at TISC Workshop in Moscow (a review of the event on the Rospatent website)