SARChI Working Paper Series No. 2015-007

What Can South Africa Learn from High Technology Patents in India: An Analysis of ICT and Biotechnology Industry through USPTO

Swapan Kumar Patra and Mammo Muchie

Economic success of a nation is highly related to technological capability building. Therefore, both industrially developed and developing nations follow explicit strategies to increase their technological competency. However, technological capability building is cannot be understood simply in terms of the sum of firm level technological capabilities developed in isolation. It is a long term process and requires a country to pass through different phases of learning, infrastructure development, human resources management, and institutions building. This paper analyses Indian and South African technological capability building in two high technology industry viz. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Biotechnology. To measure the Technological capability in these two sectors, this study uses patents granted in United States Patent (USPTO) office as a proxy indicator. The study traces the origin and the growth of patents in USPTO since the early 1970’s. It is observed that there is a substantial growth of Indian patents after the economic liberalization. This substantial number of high technology patenting from India is due to the opening up of the economy and recent surge of R&D activities of foreign firms in India. The more number of Indian patents in biotechnology sectors shows the Indian firms and R&D labs increased their strength in this sector over the years. The collaboration pattern shows that both in biotechnology and ICT industry, Indian patents are more collaborative than the foreign patents. Although, the foreign entities collaborate, but their collaboration mainly restrict among their R&D unit in India and or either their head quarter or subsidiaries located elsewhere. The study concludes with the policy recommendation from the developing countries’ particularly the South African perspective which includes the technological learning through the increasing collaboration between foreign firms and the local firms or institutions.

Keywords : Biotechnology, South Africa, Patents, Social Network Analysis

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