Research ArticleSOCIAL SCIENCES

Science quality and the value of inventions

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Science Advances  11 Dec 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 12, eaay7323
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7323

Abstract

Despite decades of research, the relationship between the quality of science and the value of inventions has remained unclear. We present the result of a large-scale matching exercise between 4.8 million patent families and 43 million publication records. We find a strong positive relationship between the quality of the scientific contributions referenced in patents and the value of the respective inventions. We rank patents by the quality of the science to which they are linked. Strikingly, high-ranking patents are twice as valuable as low-ranking patents, which, in turn, are about as valuable as patents without a direct science link. We show this core result for various science quality and patent value measures. The effect of science quality on patent value remains relevant even when science is linked indirectly through other patents. Our findings imply that what is considered excellent within the science sector also leads to outstanding outcomes in the technological and commercial realms.

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