Playing With Data Pie Chart Edition
FedInvent Reports for April 28th and May 3rd, 2022
Hello from FedInvent,
Cinco de Mayo reminded us that innovation is all around us. Restauranteurs created many how-to-keep-my-business-going pandemic inventions. The To-Go Margarita was an exceptional pandemic invention. Our favorite is the method and apparatus that prevents the 'Rita from getting watered down in transit. We commend the inventor’s creativity.
A Double Play
This newsletter is a double play. It covers patent applications for April 28, 2022, and patents for May 3, 2022. The links to the FedInvent Reports are:
April 28, 2022: FedInvent Report is here. Browse by department here.
May 3, 2022: FedInvent Report is here. Browse by department here.
The Health Complex
You can see the most recent year-to-date Health Complex patent count here. The patent applications are here.
The 2022 Federal R&D Budget
According to a Congressional Research Service Report, "Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2022", President Biden's budget request for FY2022 included approximately $171.3 billion for research and development (R&D), $13.5 billion (8.5%) above the FY2021 estimated level of $157.8 billion. In constant FY2022 dollars, the FY2022 R&D request represents an increase of $10.6 billion (6.6%) above the FY2021 funding level.
Eight federal agencies received 97% of total federal R&D funding in FY2022:
Department of Defense (DOD), 36.7%;
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), primarily the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 29.9%;
Department of Energy (DOE),12.5%;
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 8.5%;
National Science Foundation (NSF), 4.8%;
Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2.1%;
Department of Commerce (DOC), 1.6%; and
Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), 0.9%.
It's a lot of money.
Patents are a downstream indicator of the results of federally funded R&D.
We have a complete dataset for 2021 taxpayer-funded patents. (As complete as anything patent-related can be.) We were curious about how the 2021 patents for the big eight departments broke down. So we made a pie chart.
We make no claims that this isn't a statistically solid analysis. It's just an interesting exercise to visualize a little data. We realize that the patents granted in 2021 were percolating for a while. We know R&D takes place over years. The process of getting patents takes time. We still wanted to see what the pie chart looked like. The totally unscientific analysis of the budget vs. the 2021 patent haul says, "Pretty close."
Another Disclaimer: The patents counted in the tally can be credited to more than one agency because an inventor can have funding from more than one agency — HHS and DOD or NSF and DOE.
2022 Policy-Driven Innovation So Far
Here are the highlights for the first four months of 2022.
Through April 2022, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted 114,569 new patents. Taxpayers-funded patents make up 1.94% of those patents. Week over week, that percentage hovers slightly above and slightly below 2%. The numbers are similar for taxpayer-funded patent applications. So far this year, USPTO has published 132,702 pre-grant patent applications. Of those patent applications, 2.14% have taxpayer funding—same week-over-week behavior. The portion of taxpayer-funded patent applications hovers slightly above and below 2.1%.
Since we were looking at the R&D big eight, we made another pie chart to see how these departments are doing so far in 2022.
Higher Education R&D (HERD) entities — universities, colleges, post-doc academic medical centers, and academic research institutions — received 57% of the 2022 year-to-date taxpayer-funded patents. Sixty-six percent (66%) of taxpayer-funded published patent applications went to the HERD.
Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) have earned 188 patents through April 26, 2022. The patent application pipeline hit 257 as of April 28, 2022.
Congressman Ro Khanna Won't Be Happy
Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, is a free enterprise economy supporter and anti-bot transparency in social media advocate. Free enterprise from a progressive point of view, that is. He has a lot to say about the Digital Age and the massive shifts caused by digital transformation.
To understand his thinking, we read his book, "Dignity in a Digital Age — Making Tech Work for All of Us." He presents his vision of a technology landscape spread across the United States. Mr. Khanna projects that there will be 25 million new tech jobs and that all jobs will soon be technical jobs. He's troubled by the current highly concentrated technology market and the concentration of jobs that drive where technology happens. (Even though the capital of concentration is in his Congressional district.) The taxpayer-funded innovation landscape won't make him happy.
The taxpayer-funded patent numbers reflect the concentration of where federal money flows. This year through April 2022, almost 7,500 American inventors have earned a patent. Over 9,800 inventors appeared on published patent applications. On any given week, the patents and applications come from 35-38 states, respectively. The real story is that the inventors of these patented inventions and patent applications are concentrated in a few states.
Six states account for more than 50% of the first-named inventors (FNIs) on 2022 patents. A first-named inventor is usually the principal investigator on the R&D work reflected in the patent. Six states account for more than 50% of all the inventors on patents so far in 2022. California, Ro Khan's state, holds the number one spot for most inventors and has for years. Seventeen percent (17%) of the first-named inventors and 20% of all inventors come from California. Massachusetts holds second place for both first-named inventors and all inventors (10.7% and 11.5%, respectively.) Maryland comes in at 5.8% of first-named inventors and 6.8% for all inventors. New York (6% FNI/6% All) and Pennsylvania (4.8% FNI/5% All) hold the fourth and fifth place. Florida and Texas round out the top six.
The inventors on patent applications, which tend to be newer than patents, are just as concentrated. The group of states whose first-named inventors are receiving 50% of the taxpayer-funded patent applications is California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois, and New York. It only takes four states to hit over 50% of all inventors cited on patent applications, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois. Fifteen states have more than 75% of the inventors on taxpayer-funded patent applications published in 2022.
The jobs follow innovation and talent. Both jobs and inventions rely on an increasingly complex set of skills. The skills aren't always technical.
"Dignity in a Digital Age — Making Tech Work for All of Us" raises issues about the skills gaps outside of technology hubs and the need for more certificate programs to grow the tech workforce. Mr. Khanna provides a classic example of the need for soft skills if you want to break into the technology market. He is concerned about the lack of interview skills among high GPA students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He presents the case of students from Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Their students interviewing with big tech companies in his district didn't do well on whiteboard interviews, an essential element of the software and engineering hiring process. I believe it's a byproduct of all universities not focusing on interview skills. It's the same situation with the lack of financial literacy among all college graduates. The FedInvent pet peeve is college graduates' lack of business writing skills.
Representative Khanna's agenda to spread technology jobs and infrastructure more evenly around the country is a heavy lift and hard to accomplish. It starts with getting his constituents to commit to moving jobs out of Silicon Valley.
Before We Go
The FedInvent Project page has the latest patent counts. We love a good counter on a web page.
We haven't gotten any new communiques from our correspondents in Ukraine. You can read the older posts here. We'll update the Messages from Ukraine page if we get new posts.
USPTO has cut its relationship with Rospatent — the Russian patent office. That hasn't stopped patents from being granted. This week two Russian inventors received US Patent 11,320,223, "Automatic firearm having an inertial automation system." It wound up in our Bayh-Dole dragnet because it had a government interest statement. The government interest statement reads,
"This invention comes under the sphere of the military equipment namely the automatic (self-loading) firearms."
We think we might have to forward this to our favorite defense contractor scofflaws so they can figure out how to work around this one. The defense patentistas are probably working on it already.
IP Owned By Government Contractors
JD Supra published an interesting article titled, "Assessing the Value of Intellectual Property Rights in M&A Deals Involving Government Contractors," written by lawyers from King and Spaulding. There is no commentary in the article about the defense contractor scofflaws.
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The FedInvent Team
FedInvent tells the stories of inventors, investigators, and innovators. Wayfinder Digital's FedInvent Project follows the federal innovation ecosphere, taxpayer money, and the inventions it pays for. FedInvent is a work in progress. Please reach out if you have questions or suggestions. You can reach us at email@example.com.
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