Invention as a combinatorial process: Evidence from the lithium-ion batteries for alternative energy vehicles.

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2015)


combination, invention, litihio-ion batteries; electric vehicle, patents


Invention is usually conceptualized as a process of searching in the space of possible combinations (Basalla, 1988; Fleming, 2001, Fleming and Sorensen, 2004). The combination of building blocks (technological phenomena) is considered as the main source of innovation and inventions (Arthur, 2007; 2009, 2014). From this perspective, and following the methodology developed by Strumsky and colleagues (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), the paper seeks to represent the process of combining capabilities in the design and development of lithium-ion batteries for alternative energy vehicles.

The methodology accurately represents the exploration-exploitation of new knowledge and permits to identify and quantify sources of technological innovation associated with: recombinations, new combination, origination and reuse (Strumsky, 2011). From the database of the patent system in the United States (USPTO), 2066 patents (period: 2008-2014) associated with alternative energy vehicles using lithium-ion batteries are examined. With this information it is possible to identify searching patterns, as well as the constraints and incentives that explain the processes of invention as combinatorial processes.

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