Spain breaks record of patent applications despite pandemic

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Two workers work on setting up the Iberdrola photovoltaic plant.
Two workers work on setting up the Iberdrola photovoltaic plant.

Spain filed a record number of patent applications at the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2021, with the highest growth rate in the past ten years, 8.9%, despite the pandemic. The Patent Index, published this Tuesday by the EPO, shows that the 1,954 patent applications registered in Spain last year represent a strong recovery after a 4.5% drop in 2020. The growth rate of patent applications by Spanish companies was also well above the EU average. , which stood at 2.7%.

“This is good news for Spain,” EPO spokesman, Luis Berenguer told Efe, explaining that “the industry is already lagging behind the pandemic and adapting to the new needs of the market,” with the development The regions are “very much related to the new normality”. Health and clean energy technologies are the main drivers of Spanish innovation, highlighting sectors such as pharmaceuticals, which grew by 7.4%, and “electrical machinery, equipment and energy” by 22.2%.

Medical technology and biotechnology, with growth of 17.6% and 24.8%, respectively, occupy the third and fourth places, and, along with pharmaceutical innovations, health technologies represent almost a quarter of all Spanish patent applications.

The automotive industry is also recovering after a slump in 2020, with sectors such as transportation and “engines, pumps and turbines” showing strong growth of 15.8% and 77.4% respectively. Berenguer points to the campaign for health innovations as a reflection of the pandemic and the recovery of the automotive industry’s traditional weight, but highlights that the “big star” is renewable energy, “a trend at the European level that includes Spain”. I have a very important role.”

Most Spanish technological innovations come from three autonomous communities with the most patent applications: Catalonia, which registers 33.5% of the total, the Community of Madrid, which represents 19.5%, and the Basque Country, with 11.4%. The report shows that the main Spanish applicants for patents are research institutions and universities, of which the Council of Higher Scientific Research (CSIC) stands out, a feature that distinguishes Spain from countries such as Germany or France, where private initiative is used. weighs more.

“The development suggests that more innovation is being supported,” says Berenguer, who adds that “public research efforts remain the main driver of innovation in Spain”, although he noted a “shift from the public sector to the private”. highlighted the importance of , In Europe as a whole, EPO received 188,600 applications in 2021, a 4.5% increase from the previous year, with digital communications and health technologies as the main drivers of innovation.

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Large European locomotives experienced a certain stagnation, with a modest increase of 0.3% in the case of Germany and a slight decrease of 0.7% in the case of France, while the Nordic countries reached growth rates of more than 10%.

The overall growth of patent filings in EPOs in 2021 was largely driven by filings from China, up 24% from 2020 and 5.2% in the United States. Asian companies led the way for patent applications in Europe, with China’s Huawei and South Korea’s Samsung and LG standing out.

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