Measuring the creation and adoption of new technologies using trade and patent data

Neil Foster-McGregor, Önder Nomaler & Bart Verspagen


Emerging technologies are thought to be shaping the new industrial landscape, potentially creating opportunities for developing countries to industrialise through increased productivity, but also the risk that they may be excluded from the benefits of these technologies through reshoring and by eroding the competitive advantage of developing countries. In this paper we look to identify trade (i.e. imports and exports) and inventions (patents) in 4IR technologies, as a means of identifying the development, production and use of such technologies globally. The paper provides information on those countries which are leading the technology race, those which are not leading but still following, and those which are being left behind. To achieve this, the paper uses detailed patent data to identify the technology leaders in the fourth industrial revolution, and trade data to identify the producers and users of these technologies. The paper subsequently relates the use of these technologies to indicators of the level of industrial development.

Keywords: Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industrialisation, Patents, Imports, Exports

JEL Classification: O14, O33