Mapping the Global Sustainable Innovation Landscape

Sustainability has become increasingly critical for organizations to demonstrate their missions and address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Much like digital transformation, driving sustainability requires organizations to transform every division of their business and integrate in the corporate strategy. As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nation (UN) has outlined seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

Yet, incorporating sustainability goals into existing strategies and operations can be challenging. This is particularly true when defining key performance indicators (KPIs) that must be both objective and useful for mapping progress against the UN SDGs. Insights derived from IP can help in a number of ways.


Patent mapping for SDGs

Innovation is a critical lever for sustainability. Patents can help organizations measure this innovation and provide a trackable KPI to map progress against UN SDGs. By mapping patenting activity, an organization can uncover novel and inventive technical areas where it is investing sustainability focused research and development (R&D) expenditure and can consistently document innovation priorities.

Through patent analytics, organizations can approach SDGs in three distinct ways:

  • Innovation mapping to SDGs using their own portfolio
  • Benchmarking of SDG mapping against industry peers to gain insights into competitor activity
  • Sustainability reporting to help create an informed strategy for R&D and IP investments that align with SDGs.


How Clarivate can help

Understanding how to map patent activity back to SDGs can be an overwhelming task. At Clarivate, our Patent Analytics and Intelligence Consulting teams can help. Within a company’s patent portfolio, we can determine how patents align to the UN’s 17 SDGs. We can also determine what percent of their inventions were directly impacting the SDG versus inventions considered to be enabling technologies.

By further analyzing trends, we can help an organization see where recent innovation activity is focused. This allows the organization to assess whether it should refocus R&D efforts to other areas, to help it improve its progress towards achieving its sustainability goals.

During this process, each patent within the portfolio is assigned a Derwent Strength Index (DSI). The index is based on multiple factors, creating a holistic baseline that compares each idea with all other patented ideas.

We support clients by mapping SDGs to their patents portfolio and providing measurable and objective data such as:

  • the current alignment to UN’s SDGs,
  • opportunities of innovation’s development and growth
  • and global benchmarking with competitors.


A recent case study in patent mapping for SDGs

Recently, we helped a global technology leader align SDGs to their patent portfolio. While most of their patent portfolio pertained to technical advancements that can indirectly support sustainability, the emphasis of this study was to assess how these patents related to the SDGs which directly affect climate change or reduce environmental impact.

Our  team used a data driven approach to interpret technologies, contribution, and correlation to sustainability. This allowed us to identify where the recent innovation activity had been concentrated – and predict the likely progress towards sustainability based upon the directionality and proportional change of inventions mapped to specific SDGs.

We analyzed the full patent portfolio stretching back 20 years. This included an analysis of portfolio strength, citation impact, and contribution towards sustainability impact.



Increasingly, we expect tech-focused companies to use ‘green’ patents as a demonstrative component of annual reporting and patent indexes as a device to reassure investors. As more corporate and country level policies are adopted; those who lead in mapping innovation to SDGs could secure greater funding, policy adherence and commercial advantage.

Contact Clarivate Center for IP and Innovation Research to learn how we can support you in evaluating your sustainability progress, mapping patents to SDGs and corporate or industry policies.


Want to learn more?

Read our recent publication: A Study of Energy in Transition. Within the report, we look at the relationship between global research and innovation in the roll out and development of sustainable energy sources.


Sustainability at Clarivate

Our corporate sustainability goals are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to help us stay focused on what matters most to our global community. We have identified meaningful, collective actions and ways to measure our progress continuously, to accelerate our impact and position us to do great things for years to come. For more information see our Sustainability Report.