Business Week recently reported a new intellectual property mapping tool developed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The mapping software conducts searches of patent and scholarly databases and then connects the information via circles and connecting lines.
Say you're about to begin researching a new drug for diabetes, using the BCG mapping tool you'll be able to see what other researchers and organizations are researching the same subject. A tool like this could help researchers find starting points and sources for their own research and make it easier for them to make a name for themselves in their areas of expertise, think social networking for the research crowd.
It's not clear how much this tool costs or if it's available outside a BCG consulting contract but it brings an interesting premise for advanced social networks for the professional realm. Perhaps we'll see the creation of a mainstream version of this tool in the future.