World Intellectual Property Report 2015

UN Report: US and Japan Are Leading in 3D Printing

UN Report

According to a UN report, Japan and the US are doing the most innovating in 3D printing, nanotech and robotics…and governments everywhere need to listen.

3D printing is a field that is somehow making leaps and bounds while being simultaneously stymied. Whatever the reason, printing, nanotechnology and robotics are not getting the attention they deserve – or that many people think they are. An agency of the UN had plenty of concerns after a recent study of just how much innovation is happening around the world and what it means for development and growth.

The World Intellectual Property Report is released every two years and their findings this one are a very mixed bag. While the US and Japan have moved at rocket speed as far as innovation in these fields is concerned, the rest of the world is trailing behind.

Over 75% of patents ever filed in these areas comes from six countries: Japan, the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea.

How did this happen?

2015 World Intellectual Property Report (Image: WIPO, Emmanuel Berrod)
2015 World Intellectual Property Report (Image: WIPO, Emmanuel Berrod)

What the UN also uncovered was vital information as to why the US and Japan are so far ahead of the game. Namely, they provide the most funding and support. But it doesn’t end at the theoretical or research level. They found that these countries were more likely to fund innovative technologies for manufacturing, taking the vital step from paper to real world. Fluid links between the public and private sector were also able to aid growth and development.

However, universities are also pivotal in the development of these technologies. In fact, one quarter of patent applications for nanotechnology come from academics.

Somehow, all of this seems less surprising after reading about the United States’ Postal Services‘ hope of integrating 3D printing into their workspace. That is an excellent and even inspirational example of government getting behind these revolutionary new technologies. However, it is very disconcerting that, while we marvel at the technology of 2015, the world as a whole may be moving at a slower pace than anticipated.

Read the UN’s whole response here.