Owing to the rising demand for compatible organs for transplantation purpose, 3D bioprinting has demonstrated to be a powerful technology in synthetically fabricating functional cells, tissues and organs
Humans frequently experience tissue dysfunctioning and damage; however, not in all cases, the body’s tissue regeneration ability allows full recovery from the incurred injury. The conventional method of treating such trauma entails the transplantation of injured tissues or organs.
However, this is related to several drawbacks, such as the lack of compatible donors, possibility of graft rejection and post-operative problems. The other approach involves the integration of cells, growth factors and scaffolds, in order to build a three-dimensional (3D) functional tissue that imitates the human tissue; this method is less efficient, takes more time and may cause non-homogeneous cell distribution in the matrix.
As a result, 3D bio printing is nowadays being explored to create intricate anatomical structures in a layer-wise form with the help of computerized technology. The technique has high precision, superior resolution, fast processing time and is economical.
Over the last two decades, the concept of 3D printing technology in healthcare sector has evolved significantly, paving its path across a myriad of applications
The current IP landscape features the presence of over 3,300 patents focused on 3D bioprinting and associated innovations. It is worth mentioning that more than 20% patents (belonging to simple families) are granted patents.
More than half of the patents (both granted patents and applications pending for approval) related to 3D bioprinting have more than 15 years of exclusivity, indicating that this is a nascent field of research. Further, the IP landscape features the presence of over 770 applicants, including established companies, as well as academic institutes.
The current IP landscape of 3D bioprinting is distributed across several innovation categories, featuring various focus areas of the patents
It is worth mentioning that the innovation area of close to 80% of the patents is centrally aligned to the scope of report whereas 20% of the patents are focused in the innovation areas which are peripheral to the scope of project. Additionally, around 40% of the patents were focused on innovations featuring different 3D bioprinted materials, followed by patents focusing on technological advances in 3D bioprinting (17%).
Prior art searches are useful in understanding the contemporary state of art in a specific field of research and developing an idea on the scope of likely future developments
The most frequently used words / phrases in the titles of patents in the 3D bioprinting dataset were identified; majority (21%) of the patents include the word method in their titles, followed by print (15%) and tissue (8%).
Further, most of the patents featuring the word method were filed within the US, indicating a lot of active 3D bioprinting research being conducted in this region. Further, the IP literature featuring the word print was focused on printing different living tissues, organs and biomedical parts.
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More than 60 IP publications emerged as the most valuable documents, covering some of the recent innovations in the 3D bioprinting domain
The value of patent not only resides within the time it must expire, but also depends on several other parameters, that determine whether the patent is of a greater importance or not. The more value a patent application acquires, corresponds to it being more novel and technically advanced in the domain. An approximate valuation of patent must generally consider both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the IP documents being analyzed.
Majority (75%) of the IP documents in the 3D bioprinting domain are patent applications (of these, around 2% are ranked amongst highly valued innovations). Further, most of the rank 1 granted patents / applications have more than 15 years till expiry.
The presence of low number of active patents in this domain enables the innovators to freely explore and operate in different innovations areas
Given the fact that a large number of IP documents are filed / published every year, in a singular field of innovation, it is important for innovators to identify relevant innovation foci. This helps define prevalent R&D trends and thereby, direct future research efforts, patenting activity and eventually, product development and launch.
Based on our proprietary method, more than 50% of the sub-categories have high freedom to operate (owing to the less number of active patents as compared with total number of patents filed in this domain), whereas 35% of the subcategories have moderate freedom to operate.
cooperative patent classification (CPC), an extension of International Patent Classification (IPC) System, is an elaborate system of codes designed to organize the key aspects of inventions
We identified 10 CPC families as key pockets of innovation; interestingly, the most frequently mentioned family in the dataset is related to method of manufacturing 3D bioprinting. Further, majority (22%) of the patents belong to A61 CPC family, followed by patents belonging to C12N family (16%).
White spaces are considered to be the areas in the patent landscape (with little / no patenting activity) that has the ability to attain exclusivity in future
Based on the white space analysis, the emerging areas of innovation within the 3D bioprinting domain were identified, focusing on different 3D bioprinting systems.
Presently, majority of innovation are observed to be focused on different methods of bioprinting and application of 3D bioprinting process. However, various areas, such as bioprinting using machine learning, bioprinting of cell / cellular structure and composition of bioprinting material were identified as potential white spaces.
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