Scientific novelty and technological impact
Abstract This paper explores the complex relationship between scientific novelty and technological impact. We measure novel science as publications which make new combinations of prior knowledge, as reflected in new combinations of journals in their references, and trace links between science and technology by scientific references in patent applications. We draw on all the Web of Science SCIE journal articles published in 2001 and all the patents in PATSTAT (October 2013 edition). We find that the small proportion of scientific publications which score on novelty, particularly the 1% highly novel scientific publications in their field, are significantly and sizably more likely to have direct technological impact than comparable non-novel publications. In addition to this superior likelihood of direct impact, novel science also has a higher probability for indirect technological impact, being more likely to be cited by other scientific publications which have technological impact. Among the set of scientific publications cited at least once by patents, there are no additional significant differences in the speed or the intensity of the technological impact between novel and non-novel scientific prior art, but the technological impact from novel science is significantly broader and reaching new technology fields previously not impacted by its scientific discipline. Novel science is also more likely to lead to patents which are themselves novel.