Can Chinese firms be considered as global innovators? No… at least not according to the latest Thomson Reuters report “Top 100 Global Innovators“.
The conspicuous absence of Chinese firms in the ranking is at odds with he explosion of patents that has taken place in the recent years at the domestic level. It is all the more surprising given the massive effort of international patenting carried out by ZTE and Huawei, which landed them respectively at the 2nd and 4th place in the WIPO ranking.
Is it a question of timing? Do Chinese firms take more time than others to transform their patents into products? Is it a question of geographic scope? Do Chinese firms file patents only in selected countries? May be it is a question of methodology. The criteria used to evaluate firms include success (filed vs. granted patents), global (patents filed in the USA, Europe, Japan and China), influence (subsequent citation of patents) and volume.
Chinese firms may not yet be top global innovators but they for sure are on the way to becoming top global competitors. It can be a costly mistake to believe that patenting is the only way to secure a competitive advantage.