Office of the Chief Economist
IP Australia’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) produces evidence and advice to inform IP policy and develop insights into the IP system’s role in addressing key economic challenges.
The OCE’s research is organised into three thematic streams: productivity, equity in IP and innovation in response to shocks. In addition, the OCE conducts research to support IP Australia’s operational effectiveness.
In Australia and across developed economies, the rate of productivity growth has slowed over recent decades. The OCE and our research partners are investigating how the IP system can contribute to future productivity growth. We are working to understand how the IP system functions in relation to related economic outcomes, such as economic dynamism, competition, labour mobility and wages, innovation and technology adoption.
Equity in IP
To remain competitive, it is vital that Australia does not lose potential innovators. Positive change – through helping Australians from diverse backgrounds participate in the innovation system – begins with a common understanding of who accesses and benefits from the tools for innovation. IP data provides a powerful lens to view economic participation.
Innovation responses to shocks
In the COVID-19 era, the global innovation system met its moment, providing innovative solutions to contain the public health crisis and stabilise the economy. The OCE is part of an international network exploring how recent shocks have affected the innovation landscape and the IP system’s role in building economic resilience.
In 2022, the OCE exploited unique microdata on Australian workers and their employers. Initial outputs from this work have explored diversity in innovation and employee outcomes from patenting. Full research reports on these topics will be published in 2023. Ongoing work will explore the productivity implications of these innovation drivers and outcomes.
New data and methods lead to an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which the IP system impacts the economy, complementing our policy analysis. Key to the economic significance of the patent system is the scope of the patent right. If too narrow, patent rights may provide an inadequate incentive for innovation. If too broad, they may curtail follow-on innovation and competition. Also important is the timing with which IP rights are examined and granted. The OCE is exploring the characteristics of IP rights in Australia and the economic effects of various policy settings.
Frontier technologies such as AI have the potential to drive productivity improvements across sectors. In 2023–24 IP Australia will continue a research program investigating the drivers of AI development and adoption, its applications in innovation and implications for the IP system. Research outputs from this work are planned for release in 2023.
Centre of Data Excellence
The Centre of Data Excellence (CODE) is the central point of contact for cross-cutting questions requiring data and information from multiple business sources across IP Australia. CODE provides a data ‘front door’ service for external stakeholders to answer data-related queries for Australian IP rights. Users can access this service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2022, CODE updated our open data offerings, Intellectual Property Government Open Data (IPGOD). Our open data products are available at data.gov.au.
IPGOD is a publicly available dataset that provides access to over 100 years of information from IP Australia on IP rights applications. Providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for administrative data allows users to research the classification of IP rights, linkages between Australian and international IP rights, and the history of IP transfers and exchanges over time.
In 2023, CODE is developing more accessible and up-to-date open data products to better inform research and analytics work.
In late 2021, IP Australia established IPAVentures, a pilot innovation capability aimed at supporting the organisation’s vision of creating a world-class IP system and promoting prosperity for Australians. IPAVentures applies a rigorous and disciplined methodology to research, ideate, prototype, validate and deliver innovative ventures.
To this end, IPAVentures conducted research in 2022 and discovered that many SMEs were either unaware, uncertain about or late in registering their trade marks, which put them at risk of incurring significant costs or risks. As a result, IPAVentures launched its first venture, the trade mark tool TM Checker, to assist small businesses in making informed decisions about trade mark registration.
In 2023 IPAVentures is undertaking a range of research to explore whether IP Australia’s purpose is fit for the ongoing technological, economic and social disruption.
Patent Analytics Hub
IP Australia’s Patent Analytics Hub uses global and Australian patent data to derive insights and business intelligence on innovation trends, market profiles, areas of competition and collaboration, and commercial opportunities in specific technology areas. This information is used by policy- and decision-makers across government, universities and publicly funded research organisations to make informed, data-driven decisions.
In 2022, the Patent Analytics Hub published interactive visualisations of priority technology areas highlighted in the Australian Government’s First Low Emissions Technology Statement. These visualisation reports identify the impact of low-emission technologies in achieving existing global emission targets, leading to positive environmental benefits. Analysing the global patent filing trends, innovators, countries of origin and filing jurisdictions in each of the technology areas of carbon capture and storage, grid energy storage, solar photovoltaic, low emissions steel, aluminium and iron ore, and soil carbon measurement will provide critical information for decision-makers as Australia strengthens and consolidates its national capability.
The Patent Analytics Hub’s analysis of Japanese-Australian filing trends, technology strengths and collaborations assisted the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) prepare for the 17th Japan-Australia Joint Committee Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation. We also responded to requests from federal and state departments and agencies with patent analytics on various technologies, including cancer pathology, quantum computing, quantum sensors, quantum communications, high-purity silica and silicon production, and critical mineral extraction and processing.
During 2022, we continued to support the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) and the DISR Critical Technologies Hub in their work to ensure that Australia’s critical technology policies are balanced, effective and evidence-based as part of the Australian Government’s Action Plan for Critical Technologies. The Patent Analytics Hub, in collaboration with Defence Science and Technology Group, prepared an interactive visualisation that analysed patent, bibliometric, investment and social impact data across 63 critical technology areas, which the OCS and DISR will use when assessing future impacts.
The results of the studies in this report are based, in part, on ABR data supplied by the Registrar to the ABS under A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 and tax data supplied by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to the ABS under the Taxation Administration Act 1953. These require that such data is only used to carry out functions of the ABS. No individual information collected under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 is provided to the Registrar or ATO for administrative or regulatory purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the data for statistical purposes and is not related to the ability of the data to support the ABR or ATO’s core operational requirements. Legislative requirements to ensure the privacy and secrecy of this data have been followed. Only people authorised under the ABS Act 1975 have viewed data about any firm when conducting these analyses. In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, results have been confidentialised to ensure that they are not likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation.