The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched a centralized platform called “Expanding Innovation Hub” that aims to provide diverse investors with greater access to the patent process.
The Hub is part of the USPTO’s effort to inspire more minorities, veterans, and geographically and socioeconomically diverse applicants to join the innovation economy, said USPTO director Andrei Iancu and deputy director Laura Peter. Both Iancu and Peter believe that a strong and inclusive innovation ecosystem is very important to America’s economic prosperity and technological leadership.
The Hub has three main components. These are the Demystifying the Patent System toolkit intended to help inventors understand the patent application process; the Mentoring toolkit designed to connect experienced innovators with young inventors in their organization; and The Community Group Resources intended to connect employee groups that have common characteristics, goals and interests.
The USPTO created the Hub after its 2019 reports found a huge underrepresentation of minorities and women in the patent process. The report, based on 2016 data, revealed that African Americans accounted for only 0.3% of all innovators in the U.S. while Hispanic Americans accounted for only 1.4%. The USPTO also found that only 12% of patents granted in 2016 included women as inventors.
The report also identified the barriers to the greater participation of minorities and women in innovation. These include social norms and education, institution norms and practices, and resource availability and access.