The number of patent applications filed by Belgian companies, universities and research institutes at the European Patent Office (EPO) has increased by 3.3% in 2021 despite the pandemic, after a slight decrease in 2020 (-0.7%). According to the Patent Index published by the EPO today, innovators based in Belgium filed 2485 applications - the highest number so far.  

The number of patent applications in the field of pharmaceuticals rose by no less than 34.3%, making this branch the most important Belgian technology domain in terms of number of applications (from 4th to 1st place). Biotechnology comes in second, followed by medical technology.

This means that the three most active Belgian technology domains today are all related to healthcare. Furthermore, strong growth was observed in the domains of raw materials/metallurgy (+51.7%), transport (+26.2%) and semiconductors (+25.9%).

  • Patent applications from Belgian companies and innovators at the European Patent Office recover after decline in 2020 and increase by 3.3% in 2021
  • Healthcare technologies are Belgium's biggest innovation driver
  • Pharmaceutical patent applications increase by 34% and become most important Belgian technology area
  • Five out of ten most active Belgian patent applicants are universities and research institutes
EPO patent index belgium

On a global level

The European Patent Office (EPO) received 188 600 applications in 2021, up 4.5% on the previous year and the highest number to date. The EPO’s Patent Index 2021, published today, shows that patent filings  rebounded significantly last year after a slight dip in 2020 (-0.6%).

The number of patent applications – an early indicator of companies’ investments in research and development – increased in nine of the top ten most patent-active fields of technology, with digital communication  and computer technology posting the strongest growth.

 EPO President António Campinos:

The strong demand for patents last year shows that innovation has remained robust. It highlights the creativity and resilience of innovators in Europe and worldwide. They  have filed higher numbers of patent applications and the strong growth in digital technologies provides compelling evidence of the digital transformation taking place across all sectors and industries.

  • Filings at European Patent Office up 4.5%
  • Significant rebound after slight dip in 2020
  • Digital and healthcare technologies main drivers of growth
  • Audio-visual technology and semiconductors surge
  • Top countries of origin are US, Germany, Japan, China and France
  • China with strongest increase (+24%)
  • Huawei tops applicant ranking ahead of Samsung, LG, Ericsson and Siemens