Last year, Portuguese universities, research institutes and companies beat an absolute record with the European Patent Office (EPO). The organization received 286 patent applications originating in Portugal, an increase of 13.9% compared to 2020. “It is the highest annual volume to date” and “the strongest growth in Europe” among countries with more than 200 requests, representing “more than five times the average rate” of the European Union, which stood at 2.7%, advances the IEP. This performance is also a turning point in the national innovation activity, after the 7.7% drop in protection requirements in the European market recorded in the first financial year marked by the pandemic crisis. Computer technology was the main focus of Portuguese entrepreneurship.
Computer technology submitted 32 patent applications to the IEP in 2021, more than tripling its entrepreneurial action compared to the previous year. Biotechnology stood out in second place, with 31 orders, showing a growth of 82.4%. Medical technology, which led the innovation ranking, fell to third place, having applied for 29 patent registrations, a drop of 3.3%. The transport sector, which includes the automotive industry, rose from tenth to fourth position, doubling orders, with the presentation of 15 innovations. Closing the top five is the gaming area, which also entrusted 15 patents to the IEP, a growth of 114.3%, according to the 2021 Index.
The great innovative dynamo in Portugal is concentrated in universities and research institutes. Patent applications submitted by the universities of Minho, Porto and Aveiro, the Polytechnic of Leiria and the Raiz-Instituto de Pesquisa da Floresta e do Papel accounted for 45% of the total submissions among the 10 largest Portuguese applicants. But leading this list is Feedzai, a technology company specializing in artificial intelligence, which has submitted 17 patent applications.
In 2021, the North once again dominated the regional innovation ranking in Portugal, with 114 requests, but with the share falling to 40% last year compared to 56.2% in 2020. On the other hand, the Center increased its dynamics , having submitted 91 applications and accounting for 31.9% of total national applications. Lisbon responded for 56 requests and increased its share to 19.6%.
For António Campinos, president of the IEP, “the high demand for patents last year demonstrates that innovation has remained robust” and is proof of the “creativity and resilience of innovators”. In a statement, the official stressed that “the filing of a greater number of patent applications and the strong growth of digital technologies is unequivocal proof of the digital transformation that is taking place in all sectors and industries”.
In total, the IEP received 188,600 patent applications last year, an increase of 4.5% compared to 2020, the year in which there was a decrease of 0.7%. Digital communication and computer technology were the most active areas, but also the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors registered strong growth, leveraged in the levels of innovation in vaccines and in health care. China led the number of orders, followed by the US. Europe, on the other hand, continued to lose weight in the universe of requests that reached the IEP, falling from 50% of the total, in 2013, to 44%, in 2021, a result that is related to the growth of requests for protection from Asia in the European market. . The ranking leaves no room for doubt. In first place is the Chinese Huawei with 3544 orders, followed by the South Korean companies Samsung (3439) and LG (2422).