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Much has been written about serial entrepreneurs, those innovative individuals who continuously come up with fresh ideas to start new businesses. Often, these business ideas and new products are based on technology invented by others. Similarly, within the research community, there are scientists and engineers who are particularly inventive and produce patents at a high level or are serial inventors. Though they are key players in the innovation process, less is known about these individuals. It was the aim of this study to determine how prevalent these individuals are among all university faculty inventors. A detailed study of the inventors listed on all the US patents issued to five major research universities over a 23-year period highlights the outsized contributions of serial inventors. Particularly striking is how similar these contributions were among the five universities studied. In each case, the frequency of serial inventors is nearly identical, with approximately 10% of faculty inventors accounting for 50% of the patents at each university.
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Keywords: Innovation; Inventions; Patents; Serial inventors; Technology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 27, 2016

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