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Mapping Innovation

A patent map can visually identify hot spots for innovation as well as connections between industries

Having a map – whether one is navigating the seas or a proverbial map to help you lay out your future -- is necessary tools to prevail in life and to anticipate what’s coming. There’s also a map that displays a graphical model of patent visualization for the world of innovation and provides insights on the future.

According to, a patent map can visually identify hot spots for innovation as well as connections between industries, the graphical models can provide visual representation of the areas in which companies are protecting intellectual property and can help businesses stay one step ahead of the curve.

More specifically, patent maps can show where those major companies plan to diversify, or conversely, where their technological weaknesses are. Looking at a nation’s patent map might also suggest areas where R&D should be expanded to support new areas of innovation, or to fill gaps that may hinder economic growth, said Alan Porter, professor emeritus in the School of Public Policy and the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the project’s principal investigator.

Joseph Hadzima is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass., and president of Invasion Inc., a company that provides intellectual property analysis systems and services. The company also has developed its own system for mapping patents.

“We take patent citations and map them visually, which allows us to see the relationships between a particular patent and the prior patents it cites," he told Reuters. "When you draw up a map for a number of patents, you start to see patterns and trends that can help us with technology commercialization.”

Hadzima frequently creates patent maps for small businesses that have received grants from the Small Business Innovation Research, a federal program that funds technology based startups. “It’s an easy way for them to identify who is already in the competitive space -- potential partners, customers, perhaps a company that would want to acquire their business. Or is the area full of competitors?” Hadzima says. “A systematic walk through these patent maps helps teams refine their whole commercialization strategy and market entry strategy."


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Contributing Author

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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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