When IP Meets Sustainability: Mapping Patents to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Oct 11, 2021

When IP Meets Sustainability

By Marco Richter, Global Lead Product & Customer Success, LexisNexis Intellectual Property Solutions 

Once considered a matter for governments and international organizations like the United Nations (UN), sustainability is now unquestionably a topic of major concern for businesses, academia and institutions worldwide. In recent years, interest in and recognition of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues has soared. But how can you tell who is just paying lip service to sustainability—or “greenwashing”—and who is making real efforts to invest in sustainable technology?   

Introducing a mapping of global patents to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), to meet the growing demand from corporations, investors, universities, law firms, NGOs and regulatory bodies for an unbiased sustainability measure, bringing clarity to innovation and inspiring urgent action to meet the planet’s challenges.

Mapping the UN SDGs to Patents: A New Perspective

With sustainability as the new value indicator for investors and employees as well as consumer decision-making factor, companies worldwide face the challenge of objectively measuring their sustainable achievements and reporting these successes. Remarkably, we found that 75% of the top 100 corporate patent portfolio owners worldwide stated in their annual and/or sustainability reports that the UN SDGs were relevant for their business strategy and objectives (see graphic below)Therefore, it is only natural that the demand for objective and transparent measures to support sustainability strategies is growing across a wide range of industries, from technology and finance to law and consulting.  

When IP Meets Sustainability Top Corporate Patent Owners Chart

LexisNexis® PatentSight® provides a solution to this demand by mapping 13 of the 17 SDGs onto the patents in our database which compiles bibliographic patent data from over 95 authorities worldwide and analyzes over 100 million global patent documents.* The mapping goes beyond those available today—such as Y02 and WIPOs Green Inventory—which typically only consider patent classifications alone.  

Our patent experts defined 97 technology fields directly related to the SDGs. The searches and topics underlying these technologies and the SDG to patent mapping are based on UN SDGs’ targets, indicators and metadata.   

When IP Meets Sustainability Patent Asset Index

The result is a powerful, forward-looking solution that provides numerous advantages for our customers, including: 

 1. Unique measurement  

LexisNexis® Intellectual Property Solutions is the first provider to distinctly map patents in analysis against targets and indicators of UN SDGs and to measure an organization’s contribution to SDG-related research.  

2. Accuracy & transparency  

Expert curated SDG mapping to a high-quality patent data set containing reliable commercial ownership tracking and legal status information helps to shed more light on the effort companies put into becoming SDG-compliant and avoids “greenwashing.” 

3. Objective valuation  

SDG patent mapping, combined with the industry-proven and validated Patent Asset Index™ patent value indicator, reveals real champions and allows stakeholders and shareholders better decision-making and reporting capabilities.   

 4. Accessible and convincing  

Patent-based SDG assessment is easy to access and to run even without being a patent expert. Boardroom-ready visualizations make findings easy to digest and share.    


A Peek Inside the SDG mapping: What Does the Data Say?

With the global sustainability drive in full force, there are already millions of data points to analyze—and some intriguing results to be found.  

With the new SDG mapping, featured in the PatentSight® solution, we can identify which goals are (9, 3, 7 and 12) leading the way on sustainable patents.  

When IP Meets Sustainability Reporting

Caption: Development of active SDG-related patent’s strength per SDG over time 

Also, we can see which companies are investing in sustainable technology and the strength of their portfolios related to each SDG as measure by the Patent Asset Index. 

When IP Meets Sustainability Bubble Chart

Caption: Strength of SDG-related patents by top 10 of strongest patent portfolio owners per United Nations Sustainability Goal 

These are only a couple examples of the extensive reports available with the new patent-to-SDG mapping, and with full access, you will be able to:  

    • Communicate sustainable progress and road map to reach 2030 goals
    • Understand sustainable progress—yours and your competitor’s
    • Inform a strategy for sustainable technology investment 
    • Identify gaps in sustainable technology development 

A New Level of Accountability in Demanding Sustainable Solutions

The UN SDGs are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. Companies have a significant role in advancing the private sector’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.   

Global challenges—ranging from climate, water and food crises, to poverty, conflict and inequality—need solutions that the private sector can deliver, representing a large and growing market for business innovation. In a rush to transform business models and systems for the future, integrity and values will have a huge role to play.

Sustainability affects us all. Whether you are a business focused on long-term growth or an individual who wants to contribute to future generations, we all have a stake in this issue. That is why we at LexisNexis Intellectual Property Solutions are arming companies and organizations around the world with the data they need to make sustainability a focus in their IP strategies.   

The unprecedented mapping of patents to the UN SDGs is now available in PatentSight Business Intelligence.  

Curious to learn what insights you can get from SDG-related patents? Sign up for our webinar, “Calling for Action: How to Track and Measure Sustainable Innovation and Investments.   

Ready for a demo? Schedule one now  

*4 SDGs not included are not directly connected to technology and thus cannot be associated with patents.