In 2010 China rose to be the fourth largest filer of patents with the World Intellectual Property Organization, according to a new study published in September by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The report from the London-based think tank ( provides evidence that a decade of hefty investments in skills, infrastructure and R&D, has indeed boosted Chinese technological advancement. In 2000 China filed 1.8% of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patents; in 2010, it filed 7.5%. The authors claim the study counters the current view that China is doing a lot of lower level, incremental R&D and instead shows that Chinese innovation is as technologically advanced as in the West. Rather than count patents as a measure of innovation, the study counted citations from patents to the scientific literature to single out innovations that draw from basic research. With this metric, they found the proportion of patents near the science base to be at least as high as in patents filed by Western investors. “Given what the literature says, we were surprised to find China is more involved in near-science innovation than expected,” said study co-author, Helen Miller, senior research economist of the IFS. Past studies took exports or levels of foreign direct investment as an indication of innovation. “Chinese inventors display the capacity to innovate alongside US and European inventors at the technological frontier,” the report concludes. Chinese innovation may be growing dramatically, but in number of patents US and European inventors are still far ahead.