The Challenge of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
Edited by Stefano Pogutz, Angeloantonio Russo and Paolo Migliavacca
Chapter 6: Rate and Dimensions of the Technological Knowledge Base Underlying Fuel Cell Innovations: Evidence from Patent Data
6. Rate and dimensions of the technological knowledge base underlying fuel cell innovations. Evidence from patent data Ludovic Dibiaggio and Maryam Nasiriyar INTRODUCTION Fuel cell technologies are often described as a set of ‘transformational’ energy technologies leading a new technological paradigm labelled as the ‘hydrogen era’ (Avadikyan et al., 2003). Fuel cells reveal many aspects of radical innovations that provoke a creative/destructive process, since innovations in this field replace the internal combustion engine that has been dominant in the automotive sector for nearly 100 years. Since the early 1990s, the fuel cell industry has experienced enormous growth as interest in alternative forms of energy has increased and continues to drive research and development. Realization of the economic potential and environmental benefits of fuel cells will heavily depend on the expansion of the stock of technological knowledge in the field. It has been argued that technological advances take place along purposive and selective patterns and are shaped jointly by technological and scientific principles and economic factors (Dosi, 1982; Nelson and Winter, 1982). This pattern, which defines a ‘technological paradigm’, is characterized by the properties of innovation processes and the nature of knowledge bases that in turn underlie production activities. Technological paradigms orient innovation choices because they determine the identification of technological opportunities and provide alternative technological trajectories to develop. A given knowledge base and the related technological environment define both the problems that firms face in their innovative and production activities and the types of incentives and constraints that exist relative...
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