Assessing Competency of a Developing Country in High Technology?: A Case Study based on Indian Patenting Activity in the Biotechnology Sector


Sujit Bhattacharya

(Corresponding Author)

National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies

K.S. Krishnan Marg, Pusa Road

New Delhi 110 019



Swapan Kumar Patra

Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP)

School of Social Sciences

Jawaharlal Nehru University

New Delhi 110 067



Technological capability at the national/fi rm level provides competitive advantage and is intrinsic to the ‘catch up’ process. However, it is diffi cult to capture ‘properly’ technological capability attained by a country in a particular industry/sector and gauge future trends; particularly so for a country in transition. Present paper addresses this issue. We argue that in high technology sectors, patents can provide relevant indications. Based on this argument, we analyse India’s patenting activity in biotechnology (a country epitomising developing economies). Global patenting trends shows core activity areas and changing dynamics. In addition comparison with BRIC countries assess India’s activity in proper perspective. Analysis was undertaken for ‘biotechnology domain’ and individual technology classes that constitute this domain. To assess role of different organisational categories in technology creation; patenting activity was delineated under Indian organisations, foreign R&D centres and resident individuals. Along with trend, types of actors involved, collaboration, linkages with other industries, etc were investigated. The Study shows that India is developing technological capability both in terms of depth and breadth. However, in comparison to global landscape, it is still in infancy. We conclude that in spite of limitations, novel indications derived from patent statistics is a good indication of measuring a country’s technological capability.