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Patent Networks and Innovation Systems

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  • Full or part time
    Prof V Latora
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

The School of Mathematical Sciences of Queen Mary University of London invite applications for a PhD project commencing either in September 2016 (funded students) or at any point in the academic year (self-funded students).

The purpose of this PhD project is the use of network theory to understand and model how innovation is created and protected. We will analyse data on UK, EPO and US patent publications, construct different networks of citations (between patents, inventors, companies) and study how the combination of ideas produces innovative products, the technological opportunity of patenting, but also the strategic use of patenting. The project will also investigate from a network perspective the phenomenon of the so-called “patent thickets”, i.e. the presence of “dense web of overlapping intellectual property rights that a company must hack its way through in order to actually commercialise new technology" (Shapiro, 2001). Concern is growing about the possible negative effects of this phenomenon in decreasing competition in the marketplace. Indeed, a very large number of overlapping blocking patents apply to a product, making it difficult for companies and innovators to operate without engaging in costly licensing negotiations or litigation.

We will try to understand how patent thickets work by means of a temporal motif analysis of the citation networks (building on the work of Von Gravenitz et al 2011), the quantitative description of patent mutual overlapping citations, and the development of new mathematical models to reproduce the statistical properties observed. The project is intrinsically interdisciplinary, lying at the boundary between network science, business, and law. The project will be supervised by an expert of Complex Networks (Prof. Vito Latora, School of Mathematical Sciences), and by an expert of Management of Innovation and Competition Policy, Dr. Georg Von Graevenitz, from the School of Business and Management.

For full details, please see the project abstract:

The application procedure is described on the School website. For further enquiries please contact Prof. Vito Latora ([email protected]).
This project is eligible for several sources of full funding for the 2016/17 academic year, including support for 3.5 years’ study, additional funds for conference and research visits and funding for relevant IT needs. Applicants interested in the full funding will have to participate in a highly competitive selection process. The best candidates will be eligible to receive a prestigious Ian Macdonald Postgraduate Award of £1000, for which you will be considered alongside your application. The application deadline for full funding is January 31st 2016.

There is also 50% funding scheme available for students who are able to find the matching 50 % of the cost of their studies. Competition for these half-funded slots will be less intensive, and eligible students should mention their willingness to be considered for them in their application. The application deadline for 50 % funding is January 31st 2016.

This project can be also undertaken as a self-funded project, either through your own funds or through a body external to Queen Mary University of London. Self-funded applications are accepted year-round.

Funding Notes

If you wish to apply, please visit the application website and mention that you wish to work on the “Patent Networks and Innovation Systems” project.

School website:

Related Subjects

How good is research at Queen Mary University of London in Mathematical Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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