An approach to identify emergent topics of technological convergence: A case study for 3D printing

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.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2018.12.015

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
Year: 2019

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