Medtech helps Irish patent applications reach all-time high

12 Mar 2020

Image: © romaset/

Ireland’s medtech inventors are leading the charge when it comes to patent applications, which reached an all-time high in 2019.

The number of patent applications filed by Irish companies and researchers with the European Patent Office (EPO) jumped by 6.3pc in 2019, according to the latest EPO Patent Index.

This is well above the 1.1pc average growth of the 38 EPO member states, with Ireland having the third highest growth rate among the 15 most active European nations, behind Sweden and the UK.

Ireland filed a total of 878 patent applications last year, up slightly from 826 in 2018, making it the highest number within a single year to date.

Looking at which sectors are leading the patent charge in Ireland, patent applications for medtech numbered 167, amounting to 19pc of all European applications filed by Irish companies last year. Second in the rankings was computer technology with 92 applications – accounting for 10pc of Irish applications – followed by pharmaceuticals with 70 applications.

Other sectors that saw strong growth were chemical engineering, organic fine chemistry and ‘IT methods for management’. However, the strongest growth was seen with patents related to machines, rising from 13 applications to 30.

Accenture leads the way

With 111 patent applications, Accenture took the top spot in the 2019 ranking of Irish organisations at the EPO, followed by NUI Galway (22) and University College Dublin (19).

Dublin maintains the top spot in application volume, with 58pc of all filings coming from the capital. This was followed by Cork (13pc), Galway (11pc) and Limerick (2.3pc).

“The strong growth in patent applications from companies and inventors in Ireland is testimony to the country’s increasing strength in innovation and R&D efforts,” said EPO president António Campinos.

“The contribution of universities to the Irish growth in patenting is a particular strong point.”

Over the course of last year, the EPO received a total of 181,000 patent applications, which was a 4pc increase on 2018. The majority (55pc) of applications to the EPO came from outside its 38 member states.

The top five countries of origin were the US (25pc), followed by Germany (15pc), Japan (12pc), China (7pc) and France (6pc). In explaining the surge in applications, the EPO said it was mainly fuelled by China, as well as the US and South Korea.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic