Innovation is becoming more and more digital

Digital and increasingly Asian, this is how contemporary innovation is characterized. This is what emerges from a study published Thursday, December 10 by the European Patent Office (EPO) devoted to the fourth industrial revolution, encompassing technologies related to connected objects, big data (Editor’s note: data), l artificial intelligence, the fifth generation of mobile telephony (5G).

The study, which covers the years 2000 to 2018, selected international patent families (FBI), each family representing a unique invention and bringing together patent applications filed in at least two countries, or with a patent office. regional patents.

20% growth each year

It appears that innovation in technologies related to the Fourth Industrial Revolution has accelerated over the past decade, growing by 20% each year, five times faster than the average for all other technological fields.

The study argues that by 2023, nearly 29 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the Internet. The contribution of new digital technologies to GDP could rise, for the European Union and by 2030, to 2.2 trillion euros.

Also, thanks to the development of 5G, the patent activity of the connectivity sector has experienced an annual growth rate of 27% for the last ten years. In 2018 alone, 14,000 patents were registered in connectivity. The data management sector grew by nearly 23% (11,500 FBI registered in 2018).

It’s probably just the start, underlines Yann Ménière, chief economist at the EPO. The more we advance in basic technologies, for example in software and data processing, the more possibilities are created for applications in different industrial fields. “. Autonomous cars, health, agriculture, etc. : no part of the economy escapes the specter of the digital revolution.

Strong growth in Asia

The United States remains a heavyweight in innovation related to this fourth industrial revolution, concentrating a third of all FBI between 2000 and 2018, experiencing an average annual growth of more than 18%. Europe and Japan, territories of traditional industries, each experienced annual growth of just under 16%. They concentrate the fifth of the FBI.

The momentum is mainly driven by two Asian champions: South Korea, with annual growth of 25%, and China, with more than 39%. While the growth in the number of registered patents is evident everywhere, ” it is particularly impressive in Asia “, Underlines Yann Ménière, according to which there is no reason that the current dynamic knows a pause. ” On the contrary, it could accelerate “.

Samsung kept, between 2010 and 2018, the first place in the ranking of patent applicants, which it had occupied during the previous decade. The electronics giant is immediately followed by another South Korean, LG. They are followed by the American Qualcomm, the Japanese Sony and, a sign of the emergence of Chinese “soft power”, Huawei.

In Europe, disseminated research

Two Europeans reach this Top 10, the Swede Ericsson and the Finnish Nokia. While Germany (29% of FBIs generated in Europe between 2000 and 2018) is by far the leading European nation in terms of the number of European Union patent applications, this presence in this ranking of two telecoms companies from of two modest countries by their population questions.

Europe does not have a middle class pole as seen in Silicon Valley or Korea, decrypts Yann Ménière, but it can be an advantage to have specialized poles. We see that the creation of start-ups is widely distributed over the territories, in Europe, which means that you do not have your eggs in the same basket. “.

Support from public bodies in France

France is at the origin of more than 12% of European FBIs over the period 2010-2018. It stands out on the themes of security, data protection, 3D systems. Its first four companies are Technicolor, Orange, Thales and Valeo, respectively at 48e, 60e, 89e and 96e ranks of the World Top 100.

The country stands out for the strong support of its universities and public research organizations. Thus, the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), with 169 FBI between 2000 and 2018, is on the heels of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 179 FBI).


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