An independent study commissioned by the ERC revealed that the output of more than 40% of ERC-funded projects (based on data from 6,671 projects stemming from all scientific domains) was subsequently cited in patents filed by firms and institutions all over the world. The study was analysing scientific publications emerging out of ERC projects (covering all projects from 7th Framework Programme - FP7 and parts of Horizon 2020), but also patent applications reported to the ERC as direct project outcome.
Projects of the life sciences domain in particular influenced patents. Although patents with a link to ERC-funded research mostly focused on the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, computer technology, organic fine chemistry, measurement and semiconductors, thus triggering technological developments in the areas of image recognition technologies, graphene applications, solar cell technologies, applications of microRNAs, immunotherapy treatments, and stem cell technologies, ERC-funded research was found to also have an impact on technological fields whose development is crucial for tackling climate change and making the most of the digital transformation. So, ERC-funded research had a broad interdisciplinary impact on patents across technology domains.
The ERC sees through these figures once again a confirmation of the importance and influence of curiosity-driven basic research for the emergence of (technological) innovations. For the coming years, the ERC expects the number of patent citations linked to closed projects funded by the ERC to increase significantly.
Follow-up studies are planned, that will perform a patent landscape analysis for a set of technologies with the final aim to perform a qualitative analysis of the influence of ERC-funded research on the development of the identified innovations.
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