WIPO and TIME Use Patent Analytics to Study Sustainable Innovation Leaders

Light bulb plant in soil, representing the concept of sustainable innovation

May 1, 2024

It has always been known that innovation is the key to unlocking a greener future. At the same time, it is incredibly difficult to understand the impact of an invention on sustainability initiatives since there has never been a suitable framework for such a comprehensive analysis.

With the rising demand for a transparent, quantifiable approach to measuring the impact of innovation on sustainability, we saw an opportunity to build on the concept behind the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By tracking and linking individual patents to the targets specified in the U.N. SDG documentation, our project evolved into a unique patent-to-SDG mapping that connects intellectual property and sustainable development. With this feature, we enable IP professionals, business leaders, policymakers, and other key stakeholders to objectively measure their impact on creating a sustainable future.

Read on to explore our unique mapping feature and how it helps understand the complicated patent landscape of sustainable innovation.

Global organizations and publications trust LexisNexis patent data for analyzing sustainable innovation 

In recently published global reports, one by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the other jointly conducted by TIME magazine and Statista, the unique data and visualization capabilities of LexisNexis® PatentSight+™ were used to study the current state of sustainable innovation.

The WIPO report focuses on the geographical distribution of sustainable innovation, highlighting how countries across the globe are contributing to the U.N. SDGs through technological advancements. The report also looks at top companies pushing the attempts to reach the SDGs from each region and showcasing the global movement towards sustainability. The report demonstrates the breadth and depth of our data’s applicability in understanding innovation trends in this topic.

Figure 1: Number and share of active international SDG-related patent families by filing authority. Source: WIPO 2024.

According to the findings of the WIPO report, SDG-related patents constitute around 31.4% of global active patent families. These patents demonstrate a global commitment to sustainability, with 35.4% of PCT and 42.4% of EPO patents focusing on SDGs, highlighting a preference over direct national filings in countries such as the USA, China, Korea, and Japan.

Proportion of international patent families of each of the top 25 patent owners from academia and research organizations within each SDG. Source: WIPO 2024
Proportion of international patent families of each of the top 25 patent owners from academia and research organizations within each SDG. Source: WIPO 2024

Figure 2: Comparing the proportion of international patent families of each of the top 25 patent owners from academia and research organizations within each SDG. Source: WIPO 2024.

Meanwhile, TIME and Statista used our patent data and mapping feature to help rank America’s top 250 sustainability-focused technology companies statistically. Patent portfolio quality metrics, like the LexisNexis Patent Asset Index, were part of the data set used to compare the 250 companies based on their positive environmental impact, financial strength, and innovation to see who is rising to the top of the field. To determine these, Statista analyzed data points such as the value of the company’s intellectual property portfolio, revenue and funding, and environmental data specific to each industry, such as carbon capture, offsets, and renewable energy generated.

What stands out the most about the ranking is the variety of kinds of companies at the top of green tech, a range driven by substantial government funding through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The industry now shows major investments in various technologies needed to lower the environmental impact of everything from food to heavy industry and produce renewable energy from solar to fusion.

Patents as the key to understanding sustainable innovation

PatentSight+ stands apart with its unique new feature of mapping individual patent families to specific, relevant UN SDGs. Active patenting in technology areas relevant to SDG targets is methodically mapped using a specific procedure that identifies patents related to defined technology fields as specified by the U.N. SDG metadata.

With this mapping and our proprietary patent quality metrics, strategists now have an objective measure to evaluate progress toward SDGs. This capability allows stakeholders from various sectors – corporate IP teams, attorneys, CEOs, CTOs and other business leaders, government agencies, or academia – to discern the tangible impact of patents on sustainability. For strategic decision makers, this means the ability to analyze and prioritize R&D investments in technologies that promise the highest sustainable impact. It offers policymakers and government agencies a data-driven foundation to support innovation ecosystems that align with the UNSDGs.

Leveraging our patents-to-SDG mapping can deliver key insights to:

  • Enable stakeholders to benchmark performance against industry peers
  • Identify emerging technologies and innovators in the space of sustainability
  • Showcase commitment to sustainable development to investors, customers, and regulatory bodies.

PatentSight+ offers a lens through which the innovation community’s contributions to the UN SDGs can be comprehensively understood and amplified.

Innovate, Measure, Improve

As the world grapples with the pressing challenges of our time, from climate change to income inequality, the need for sustainable innovation has never been more acute. LexisNexis Intellectual Property Solutions, with our unique data and features like patents-to-UN SDG mapping, aims to enable the innovation community to achieve their goals more easily. By providing a deeper analysis of how intellectual property intersects with sustainability goals, we help stakeholders across the spectrum to make informed decisions that drive progress.

We invite you to explore the transformative potential of our analytics solution.

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