- Survey questions and patent renewals information offer alternative insight into the service lives of R&D assets. However, each has its own strengths and limitations and different calculation methods yield a wide range of different estimates.
- Survey questions can provide direct estimates of the service lives of R&D. Methodical question design and testing improves respondent understanding and response.
- Survey findings indicate that the average service life of UK R&D lies between 6.0 and 10.5 years and that R&D lives vary across different industrial sections.
- Patent renewals data can provide a readymade source of information. However, the strength of the link between patents and R&D is questionable.
- Estimated average service lives of UK patents range from 8.0 to 20.0 years depending on the estimation method applied. There is also variation across different industrial sections.
- Survival analysis reduces downward bias present in methods wich only examine 'dead' patents.
This suite of three articles will present ONS research into the useful life of R&D, which is due to be capitalised in the UK National Accounts from 2014. It compares estimates made using new questions implemented on ONS R&D surveys to those derived from patent administration data.