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The innovation network

The innovation network

Innovation is normally regarded as a cumulative process, with new technologies building on existing knowledge – but our understanding of how progress in a particular area is influenced by knowledge in other, ‘upstream’ areas is bound. Using US patent data, this column identifies a well balanced ‘innovation network’ that serves as a conduit for cumulative knowledge development. Technological advances in a single field can advance progress in multiple neighbouring fields, but could have a stronger influence on more closely related areas.