Is the Rate of Innovation Slowing?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new analysis showing that the “breakneck pace of innovation is showing signs of a slowdown.”

“More than 2.15 million patentable inventions were created world-wide in 2014, 3.3% more than in 2013. But the pace of growth seems to be slowing, according to Bob Stembridge, a Thomson Reuters intellectual property analyst: It was 17.7% in 2013, 20% in 2012 and 7.3% in 2011.”

“A different measure of innovation, the global rate of publication of scientific papers, also is slowing. The total number of research papers in 12 key industries fell beneath 250,000 last year… The number was around 300,000 in 2013. It peaked in 2008—just before the economy entered a recession—at 350,000.”


  1. I have a Theory…The Republicans in Congress have strangled any and all research dollars….

  2. The first measure does not show slowing rate of innovation, but rather decelerating rate of innovation. While this might be a warning sign, it is not a slowdown. As long as those rates stay positive (or at least above the 1.1% rate of annual population growth), innovation is still growing. Furthermore, I would rather look at a 5 or 10 year rolling average on inventions, not an annual number.

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