The number of patents registered by Portugal decreased by 8.5% in 2020. Overall, with 180,250 patent applications, it was a worse year than 2019, minus 0.7%. Medical technology was the most in demand, both nationally and internationally, which made it possible to keep the world scenario relatively stable and develop a national dynamic that, despite the decline in 2020, allowed it to surpass the 2018 results.
After two years of accelerated growth (47.3% more in 2018 and 23.1% more in 2019), Portuguese universities and companies reversed this trend with 249 requests. Even if you implement a decrease from 2019 – a record year with 272 applications, 110 of which have already been approved – 2020 was better than 2018 (221 applications).
The annual accounts released by the European Patent Office (IEP) this Tuesday does not mean that the Portuguese were less innovative. In a year when the world was making vaccines against the clock and the country even stepping into the crowd of highly innovative European nations, there were still many restrictions on activity that contributed to the general collapse shared by other countries when also in different degrees, starting with the three that are at the top of the world (USA, Germany and Japan).
“I am pleased that the number of patent applications originating in Portugal is still relatively high despite the decline. This shows that Portuguese innovation is now more stable than in the past, ”says IEP President António Campinos.
In a scenario of general decline that mostly escapes Asian countries and a few Europeans (including France, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Russia and Slovenia), Portugal kept its share: it still accounts for 0.1% of the world’s registered orders . And as in 2019, medical innovation stood out again.
“In many technological areas that have fueled Portuguese innovation in the past, the number of patent applications fell in 2020, including special machines (-25% compared to 2019), computer technology (-46.7%) and especially furniture, Games (-61.1%) ”, summarizes the IEP.
On the contrary, there was “a strong investment in innovations in the health sector”: In 2020, the medical technology sector was the one with the highest number of Portuguese orders. It grew by 31.8%. The pharmaceutical company was in second place with a plus of 44.4% and the biotechnology sector closed the podium with a growth of 21.4%.
By region and unit, the North and the University of Minho (UM) had the most inquiries. The north with a share of 56.2% repeats and even strengthens the leadership of previous years compared to the other regions (Lisbon fell in second place by 32.2% to 16.1%); and UM dethrones Novadelta, which wrote the most commissions in 2018 and 2019.
UM submitted 20 applications for protection, followed by A4TEC (Association for the Promotion of Tissue Engineering and Cell-Based Technologies and Therapies) with 14, INESC Porto (12), Saronikos Trading and Services with seven and the University of Évora with seven as well.
The Portuguese specificity remains, which is contrary to the reality of most of the European countries, where the five largest Portuguese applicants include four research laboratories and academic institutions. Outside, they mostly run businesses.
Portugal has dropped two positions from 32nd to 34th in the list based on the number of inquiries and is in 28th place in the ordered list of inquiries per million inhabitants cited by Switzerland.
China retained fourth place and France remained fifth. By company, South Korean Samsung (3276 orders) surpassed Chinese Huawei (3113) at the top of the list of the top ten companies with the highest number of orders in 2020. LG (South Korea) stayed in third place.
Five of the ten companies that top this list are Europeans, with Ericsson being the most prominent with 1,634 orders. In these ten countries, technology companies such as Qualcomm (semiconductors) or Sony and conglomerates with a strong presence in various technologies such as BASF, Siemens, Bosch or Philips dominate.