The aftermath of the corona pandemic and the unstable political situation due to the war in Ukraine have not had a negative effect on innovation. The European Patent Office proves this with an increasing number of patent applications in 2022. With 35 patent applications, VITO is once again in the Top 10 of Belgian companies and inventors who have filed a patent application. However, competition is fierce.

Never before have so many patent applications been filed in Europe as in 2022. With 193,460 applications, this is another 2.5 per cent more than in 2021. 2,604 of these came from Belgium, which is 5 per cent more than in 2021.

VITO is again among the top 10 Belgian applicants for patents. 3D printing, clean energy and surface treatment technology are on the rise and this also translates into the number of patent applications on these topics.

The constant presence of universities and research institutions in this top 10 is striking, as colleagues from imec and VIB also complete this list. The absolute topper for years has been Solvay and remains so. That Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and East Flanders make the most applications is quite logical. That is also where the most important universities and research institutes are located. But Limburg, Namur and West Flanders are the fastest growers.

With 223.9 applications per million inhabitants, Belgium also immediately scores in the top 10 of the global ranking based on the number of patent applications per million inhabitants. That list is led by Switzerland (1,031.1). The only non-European country in this list is South Korea (200.1) in tenth place.

Unsurprisingly, the US, Germany, Japan, China and France make up the top five worldwide in the absolute number of European patent applications. Although Germany lost some more ground in 2022. The report also lists the sectors for which countries apply for patents. Thus, it is immediately clear that European countries are mainly betting on medical technology, energy and transport, China is focusing on patents for digital communications and the US on medical technology and computer technology. 

If we list all the companies, Huawei takes the crown, ahead of LG, Qualcomm, Samsung and Ericsson.