• Successful development and application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) can boost innovation productivity and output. At firm level ICTs feed into many types of innovation processes and create efficiency gains that free up scarce resources for use elsewhere. Existing empirical studies, including ongoing OECD work, point to a positive link between increased adoption and use of ICTs and economic performance at the firm and macroeconomic level (OECD, 2012).

  • Clusters are a geographic concentration of firms, higher education and research institutions, and other public and private entities that facilitates collaboration on complementary economic activities. While some of the world’s leading clusters specialise in high-technology industries (e.g. Silicon Valley, Bangalore) they are also found in sectors ranging from wine making to automobiles to biotechnology.

  • While science has always been open – indeed openness is critical to the modern scientific enterprise – there are concerns, and some anecdotal evidence, that the processes for producing research and diffusing its results have become less open. There are several reasons. First, science is increasingly data-driven and expensive, but access to scientific data is often subject to administrative, legal and privacy regulations. Access also requires adequate information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure. Other limits on openness in science include policies and practices at universities that place a premium on patenting over publishing and weak incentives for researchers to share data. This can also act as a barrier to the replication and validation of scientific experiments. Finally, the policies and practices of scientific publishers that limit web-based access to research results may also make access to scientific data less open.

  • The transfer, exploitation and commercialisation of public research results is a critical area of science, technology and innovation policy. Efforts to ring-fence public research in a context of fiscal austerity in many OECD countries – as well as competition from new players in Asia – have increased pressure on universities, public research institutions (PRIs) and governments to increase the economic outputs from and impact of investments in public research.

  • A patent is a legal title that gives the holder the right to exclude others from using a particular invention. If the invention is successful on the market the patent holder will profit from its monopoly power. Patents therefore allow inventors to internalise more of the benefits they generate: without such a mechanism inventions would be immediately imitated and inventors’ return on their investment would be reduced. Patents are granted in return for disclosure of the invention: they therefore play a role in the diffusion of knowledge. Inventors and firms apply for patents at patent offices, which grant (or reject) patents for their jurisdiction (domestic market), in accordance with their legal statute. Most patent offices are national; the main exception is the European Patent Office (EPO).

  • Intellectual property rights (IPRs) such as patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights are increasingly traded in markets. Public policy plays a role in shaping the evolution of IP markets and thus their impact on innovation. In today’s highly networked world, the circulation of ideas is vital to innovation. Inventors, designers and authors are not always best placed to exploit their knowledge. Organisations are therefore increasingly adopting open innovation practices, but high transaction costs often impede the successful negotiation of licences or other types of agreements.

  • Countries engage in international (including bilateral and multilateral) co-operation in science, technology and innovation (STI) with a view to tapping into global pools of knowledge, human resources and major research facilities, to sharing costs, to obtaining more rapid results, and to managing the large-scale efforts needed to address effectively challenges of a regional or global nature.