Small Businesses Lead on Green Technology Innovation

Small businesses are responsible for much of the innovation in green technology based on the number of patents they own, according to a study by the US Small Business Administration. 

Although small businesses account for just 8% of all U.S. patents, they hold 14% of green technology patents, concludes a report by the SBA Office of Advocacy, Analysis of Small Business Innovation in Green Technologies.

And diving deeper into specific green technologies, they hold about a third (32%) of all patents related to smart grid and solar energy, and 15% in batteries and fuel cells.

80% of "prolific" inventors – those with five or more recent green patents -are from small green technology firms where founders had previously worked at large companies, or large government or university labs.

And small innovative firms are 16 times more productive than large innovative firms in terms of patents per employee. Companies with less then 500 employees produced 27 patents per 100 employees, compared with 1.6 patents per 100 employees in large firms.

Small firms’ green technology patents are cited 2.5 times as often as large firms in other patent applications, indicating that small firms patents are more original and influential.

While four times as many large firms have at least one green patent, small firms are more likely to have green technology as a core part of their business.

Small businesses are leading the way in green technology innovation as they have with innovation over all," says SBA Chief Counsel Winslow Sargeant . "It is important that government help foster innovation which leads to commercialization."

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