Technological Convergence (TC) reflects developmental processes that overlap different technological fields. It holds promise to yield outcomes that exceed the sum of its subparts. Measuring emergence for a TC environment can inform innovation management. This paper suggests a novel approach to identify Emergent Topics (ETopics) of the TC environment within a target technology domain using patent information. A non-TC environment is constructed as a comparison group. First, TC is operationalized as a co-classification of a given patent into multiple 4-digit IPC codes (≥2-IPC). We take a set of patents and parse those into three sub-datasets based on the number of IPC codes assigned 1-IPC (Non-TC), 2-IPC and ≥3-IPC. Second, a method is applied to identify emergent terms (ETs) and calculate emergence score for each term in each sub-dataset. Finally, we cluster those ETs using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to generate a factor map with ETopics. A convergent domain – 3D printing – is selected to present the illustrative results. Results affirm that for 3D printing, emergent topics in TC patents are distinctly different from those in non-TC patents. The number of ETs in the TC environment is increasing annually.
Author(s): Zhinan Wang, Alan L.Porter, Xuefeng Wang, Stephen Carley
Organization(s): Beijing Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: Technological Forecasting and Social Change