In the transition to sustainability, innovation will play a crucial role. As the latter follows intricate paths and processes, IPRs might impede further innovation and slow down the transition to sustainability by blocking innovative technologies – or making it harder to access them. Yet, when adequately used, IPRs may foster knowledge exchange and shared learning. Open innovation - particularly open licensing – can support follow-on innovation by allowing for the circulation and combination of inputs from different actors and help solving the wicked problem of sustainability.
Aside from the mere practice of sharing one's IPRs to foster further innovations in an open innovation setting, the sustainable financing of follow-on innovation will be essential in the coming decades. Indeed, in a crisis-laden world and considering the - presumably - future economic downturns, the question of the financing of follow-on innovation will be critical. There is certainly a need to identify how and under which conditions intellectual property, follow-on innovation and financing models can work together towards a more sustainable world. As the R&D funding in the post-pandemic world might become scarce, uneven, and unpredictable, this article reviews whether some alternative means of funding innovation –particularly emerging blockchain-based solutions – could succeed at supporting follow-on innovation for the greater goal of sustainability.
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