The ultimate goal of any world-class swimmer is to break a record, and technology enables that accomplishment. Using 40 years of data at the individual, national and international level, we identify the quantitative impact that innovation has had on the number of record breaks. We find small but statistically significant impacts on both the number of breaks and the interval between breaks.
There are two counter-intuitive trends in technological collaboration currently at work, making collaborative patent applications less common but where they exist, the collaborations involve more partners. Patent data are used to examine these trends along with the impact of two recent policy changes, including the relevance for particular nations and technologies.