Location, Location, Innovation 4135

An analysis of regional patenting strength provides key insights for medical device companies undertaking the site selection process.

Scott Kratzer

November 1, 2006

13 Min Read
Location, Location, Innovation

0611x19a.jpgGOVERNMENTAL & LEGAL AFFAIRS

Long ago, site selection became a very sophisticated and highly strategic decision for most companies. Recent advances in geographic information selection software packages enable companies to meld important factors in site selection—such as population, income taxes, airport accessibility, highway conditions, and even nearby employers and colleges—when evaluating prospective sites.

However, missing from most typical site selection processes is a thorough examination of the elements that underscore innovation in life sciences segments such as medtech: inventors and the intellectual property (IP) they produce. Numerous studies have linked high-quality patents to market success. Therefore, if a company manages its IP as a core asset, innovation—particularly high-quality, patent-driven innovation—is a repeatable process that can lead to such market success.

In this MX exclusive, IP research and advisory services firm ipIQ (Chicago) examines how IP analytics can enhance site selection for medtech companies.

Medtech Inventor Contributions by State

To identify hot spots in terms of industry-specific patenting activity, ipIQ examined inventor contributions in the medical device field by geographic region. Inventor contribution is defined as the number of contributions made to an issued patent by an individual inventor in a specific geographical area. For example, if three inventors from the Chicago area were to collaborate on five different patents, Chicago would be credited with 15 contributions. For the study, ipIQ focused on U.S. utility patents issued from 2003 to the present.

At the national level, the number of inventor contributions to medical device patents declined at an annual rate of 14% between 2003 and 2005. The decline in contributions is prevalent among the top 10 states, with only Pennsylvania showing an annual decline of less than 10% in this time frame. Shrinking by more than 19% in 2004 and 27% in 2005, Ohio experienced the greatest reduction in annual contributions among the top 10 states.

Even though the medtech industry is generally thought to be less concentrated geographically than other life sciences segments such as biotech and pharma, the degree of inventor concentration in the medical device field is worthy of note. About half of the inventor contributions to medical device patents issued since 2003 originate from only four states—California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.

Not surprisingly, California leads all states with more than a quarter of the nation's medtech inventor contributions, yielding more than 9000 patents.

When looking beyond the lump sum of patents produced in each state, some interesting observations come to light in terms of the quality and productivity of the patents produced in each state. They are as follows.

  • Minnesota, not California, has the highest average number of inventors per patent (inventor     contributions/unique patent count).

  • With 22 inventor contributions to 21 patents in 2005, North Dakota ranks ahead of only Alaska in     terms of inventor contributions. However, this set of patents scored the highest of all states in 2005     when measured by ipIQ's Current Impact Index (CII), a proprietary measure of the impact that a     company's patents have across the industry (see sidebar, at right). North Dakota's CII score of 3.03     is nearly three times that of industry-leading California, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

  • On average, patents produced by Kentucky inventors have the highest interdependency scores per     patent at 1.9. This score is 6.33 times more than that of South Dakota, the state receiving the fewest     average citations per patent. Interdependency illustrates foundational patents that are key building     blocks to other innovations.

    While these data points may not necessarily dictate that a medical device company should relocate to North Dakota, they may cause medtech executives to consider locations that might otherwise not appear on their list of prospects. For example, low-cost locations in close proximity to both Minneapolis and eastern North Dakota would situate a company between a major medtech hub and a region of the nation producing exceptionally high-quality patents. Similarly, with the insight that inventors living in Kentucky have discovered some potentially seminal patents in the medical device field, some companies might consider the Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky region as an attractive site.

    Medtech Inventor Contributions by Region

    Similar to the state-by-state breakdown, an analysis of inventor contributions at the core-based statistical area (CBSA) level paints a highly concentrated picture. In fact, since 2003, the top 10 CBSAs have generated 51% of the nation's inventor contributions to medical device patents (see Table I). CBSAs encompass both metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. A look at ipIQ's patent quality indicators reveals the following information at the CBSA level.

    Core-Based Statistical Areas

    MedtechInventorContributions(no.)

    % of U.S.MedtechContributions

    UniqueMedtechPatents(no.)

    San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont, CA

    5159

    8.0

    3215

    Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, MN-    WI

    5129

    7.9

    2232

    San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, CA

    4881

    7.5

    3027

    Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH

    4797

    7.4

    2617

    Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana, CA

    4548

    7.0

    2707

    New York–New Jersey–Long Island, NY-    NJ-PA

    3467

    5.4

    2264

    Chicago-Naperville-Joilet, IL-IN-WI

    1878

    2.9

    1009

    San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos, CA

    1826

    2.8

    1247

    Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-    NJ-DE-MD

    1439

    2.2

    900

    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

    1306

    2.0

    771

  • Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington has the highest average inventors-per-patent ratio among the top     20 CBSAs for medical device patents.

  • Houston-Sugarland-Baytown in Texas has the lowest average inventors-per-patent ratio among the     top 20 CBSAs for medical device patents. It also has the lowest CII score among the top 20.

  • San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara in California has the highest CII and average interdependencies-    per-patent ratio.

    Patent Quality by State

    In addition to analyzing the quantity of patents produced in an individual region, it's also important to determine the relative quality of a region's patents. In examining the top 10 states in terms of medtech patent quality—as measured by ipIQ's technology strength indicator—the following observations come to light (see Table II).

    State

    InventorContributionRank

    TechnologyStrength Rank

    TechnologyStrength

    IssuedPatents

    Current ImpactIndex

    ScienceLinkage

    TechnologyCycle Time

    California

    1

    1

    2692

    2264

    1.19

    7.7

    9.3

    Massachusetts

    2

    2

    710

    660

    1.08

    10.0

    9.1

    Minnesota

    3

    3

    564

    596

    0.95

    4.3

    8.2

    New York

    4

    4

    406

    509

    0.80

    5.0

    7.7

    Pennsylvania

    7

    5

    361

    373

    0.97

    5.4

    10.2

    Florida

    8

    6

    330

    405

    0.82

    3.6

    9.9

    Ohio

    6

    7

    313

    298

    1.05

    3.8

    9.6

    New Jersey

    5

    8

    283

    364

    0.78

    6.2

    9.1

    Texas

    10

    9

    258

    309

    0.83

    6.7

    10.1

    Illinois

    9

    10

    238

    293

    0.81

    6.2

    11.1

  • The technology strength indicators of medtech patents produced in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas     are higher than their inventor contribution rankings, meaning the patents produced in these states are     of comparatively higher quality. On the other hand, the technology strength indicators for Ohio, New     Jersey, and Illinois are relatively weaker than might be expected based on their inventor contribution     rankings.

  • California tends to produce the medtech patents that have the most influence within the industry, as     indicated by its CII score of 1.19.

  • Massachusetts generates the medtech patents that are most closely related to leading-edge     research, as indicated by its 10.0 science linkage score.

  • New York produces medtech patents the most quickly, as indicated by its technology cycle time of     7.7, the lowest among the top 10 states. However, New York's industry influence score (CII) of 0.80 is     the second lowest among the top 10 states.

    Conclusion

    Although the site selection process has evolved to include numerous factors, many of the forces that drive innovation—intellectual property, patents, and research—have historically not been a significant part of the site selection algorithm. However, without under- standing an area's ability to produce innovation, a medtech company's site selection process might not lead to the best possible location to meet the company's long-term needs.

    Scott Kratzer is vice president of advisory services for intellectual property research and advisory services firm ipIQ (Chicago). Jorge Diaz is an analyst in the firm's advisory services division.

    Copyright ©2006 MX

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