The numbers of either articles or patents or both produced by one country or another suggest something about that country’s level of activity. I am brutally summarizing some of M. Fatih Yegul’s data, which will be presented at PICMET ’08 (www.picmet.org) in South Africa in late July and published in the proceedings under the title “Nanotechnology: Canada’s Position in Scientific Publications and Patents,” notes that Canada ranks 16th (just after Austria) in one study which examined global patent databases covering a 10 year period (1994 to 2004). That study listed the US as the leader with over 6700 patents while Canada registered slightly fewer than 100.
Two studies which focus on the patents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) show Canada as ranking fifth overall. I guess a significant number of researchers don’t file their patents in the US hence the lower ranking when worldwide databases are used. Interestingly, Canadians file more patents with the USPTO than they do with its Canadian counterpart.
There’s some information about the number of Canadian patents that get cited internationally, apparently we rank highly on that kind of an index especially with medical and biotechnology-related nanotechnology. (Aside: I love how the biotech guys are shifting their brand to nanotechnology. I’m not sure that’s going to help their problem, which is more profound than bad publicity associated with the old name.)
It’s all pretty interesting including the suggestion (based on a study that showed Canada as ranking 6th in numbers of science articles published from 1995-2005) that Canada is performing below its own average with regard to nanotechnology research. There are no unequivocal conclusions to be had from all this data although I did get the impression that Canadians (whether you consider the level of scientific interest or government support) haven’t gotten that interested in nanotechnology yet.