Mapping an extensive Technological Innovation System perimeter using Technology Intelligence: An Application to Hydrogen vehicles

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)


Automotive industry, Hydrogen cars, network analysis, patents, technological innovation system


Under the pressure from society and the evolution of standards and regulations (such as the ban on internal combustion engines in Europe), car manufacturers must profoundly renew their product offerings. While the transition to the electric vehicle seems to be underway, a next stage involving the hydrogen vehicle could be envisaged. However, the economic and technological uncertainties surrounding this vehicle are such that a major assessment of the direct and indirect technologies (and their respective markets) and their development trajectories is still required. It is the role of technological intelligence to contribute to the production of actionable information that feeds the firms’ decision-making system (Flamand, Le Customer, 2022). However, given the multiple technological domains at stake and the complexity of the interacting mechanisms, implementing technological intelligence is singularly complicated and requires it to be based on powerful analytical approaches.

From this perspective, the Technological Innovation System (TIS) is a relevant technical and economic analysis framework in its ability to study the multidimensional characteristics of a system. Introduced by Bergek (2008), it makes it possible to understand the levers and blockages of the emergence of a technology at a meso-economic level. Its initial purpose is to guide public policies, in particular to promote the growth of a given technological system (Jacobsson and Bergek 2011) in the country studied. This purpose has long imposed strong constraints on the TIS in terms of technological and geographical scope, amid uncertainty about the analytical foundations of these choices (Markard et al. 2015). These constraints are thus questioned from three angles. On the one hand, the studied TIS is part of a value chain whose geographical attributes are not necessarily national. Secondly, technological interactions, through complementarity or competition, often play a major role in the emergence of a system. In addition, the TIS offers a potential to support companies in their strategies, and some authors try to adapt its structure to this new purpose (Planko et al 2017; Ortt & Kamp 2022). Nevertheless, none of them to date has focused on an empirical definition of the scope, which would thus be defined in relation to a formalized context of value chains and interactions.

In this perspective, the objective of this paper is to establish a way to grasp the relevant perimeter. From a methodological point of view, it allows to build a study perimeter based on explicit choices. From an applicative point of view, it allows the TIS to be conformed to the needs of industrials and therefore to be encouraged in this use. Finally, from an analytical point of view, it allows us to have a clear knowledge of the external elements interacting with the TIS. This increases the explanatory power of the TIS by reducing the elements hidden in the analysis, and allows to observe, in the functional analysis, how these interactions can become blocking or inducing mechanisms of the technology.
To reach this objective, we propose to use technological intelligence tools to develop a simple conceptualisation of this perimeter. The proposed method consists of extracting hydrogen-related patents from the Orbit database (Questel), and reprocessing them to obtain a network in which the nodes are made up of codes and the links of patents. Thanks to a multi-level community calculation, it is then possible to map groups of codes associated with technological sets, and to understand, at the patent level, which technologies and uses are associated with hydrogen.

The paper is organized as follows:
I- The TIS framework: defining the frontier of the focal TIS
a. A tendency to delimit the TIS by value chains
b. A need to integrate technological interactions
II- A case study on hydrogen vehicle
a. Methodology and data
b. Results
III- Discussion and Conclusion

Bergek, A., Jacobsson, S., Carlsson, B., Lindmark, S., & Rickne, A. (2008). Analyzing the functional dynamics of technological innovation systems: A scheme of analysis. Research Policy, 37(3), 407-429. doi:10.1016/j.respol.2007.12.003

Flamand, M., Le Customer, P., 2022. Proposal of a data quality assessment grid for technological intelligence. A demonstration for the building sector based on technical notices (ATec), Working paper. VIA-INNO.

Jacobsson, S., & Bergek, A. (2011). Innovation system analyses and sustainability transitions: Contributions and suggestions for research. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1(1), 41-57. doi:10.1016/j.eist.2011.04.006
Markard, J., Hekkert, M., & Jacobsson, S. (2015). The technological innovation systems framework: Response to six criticisms. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 16, 76-86. doi:10.1016/j.eist.2015.07.006

Ortt, J. R., & Kamp, L. M. (2022). A technological innovation system framework to formulate niche introduction strategies for companies prior to large-scale diffusion. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 180 doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2022.121671

Planko, J., Cramer, J., Hekkert, M. P., & Chappin, M. M. H. (2017). Combining the technological innovation systems framework with the entrepreneurs’ perspective on innovation. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 29(6), 614-625. doi:10.1080/09537325.2016.1220515

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