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  • Gottfried Schüll

How is Germany’s innovative strength looking?

Study on disruptive changes in science / C&F rates current IP activities positively

Düsseldorf, February 9, 2023 – A study has found that innovative strength in science has declined significantly. US researchers analyzed 45 million technical papers and 3.9 million patents across all scientific fields and published the results in the trade journal “Nature”. According to the study, the proportion of groundbreaking discoveries declined markedly between 1945 and 2010, although much more research was conducted overall. “We have found that technical papers and patents are breaking with the past and taking science and technology in new directions less and less often,” the authors of the study report in a press release. At the same time, there is “a huge need for solutions to today’s pressing problems – from climate change to medicine to space travel,” they continue.

The study found that one reason for the decline in innovation is the pressure on young scientists to publish as quickly and as much as possible. This leaves less time to think about the big problems that can lead to disruptive breakthroughs. For the study, the authors examined citation practices in technical papers. The analysis shows that the sources cited are less technically varied today than in the past. This may have contributed to a further narrowing in the scope for innovation.

Science historian Helmuth Trischler, however, also views the study results critically and points out that the study has methodological weaknesses and should not be overrated. Broadcaster SWR quotes him as saying “we are now in a phase in which we are reaping what we have sown”. According to Trischler, the conditions for innovation are still very good, especially in Germany. Germany accounts for about one percent of the world’s population, but around ten percent of innovation takes place here, in some areas even 20 percent.

Cohausz & Florack (C&F) is also confident in view of current developments, especially IP activities in Germany: “We have seen tremendous advances in fields such as medicine or biotechnology in Germany in recent years,” says Gottfried Schüll, patent attorney and partner at C&F. The importance of smaller technological developments should not be underestimated either: “It is these developments that often contribute to major advances in our everyday realities.”

The study from the trade journal “Nature” is available here.

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