You never know where a patent's use is going to lead. For example, many materials used in the semiconductor industry also apply to materials used in medicine.
IBM's record-setting 2012 patent tally was was made possible by more than 8,000 IBMers residing in 46 different U.S. states and 35 countries. IBM inventors residing outside the U.S. contributed to nearly 30% of the company's 2012 U.S. patent output.
Also check out this link to other IBM Research Projects