March 19, 2024

Where are Europe's patent hotspots?

The EPO’s Patent Index for 2023 reveals which geographies boast the highest number of patent hopefuls

Sadia Nowshin

2 min read

Boffins in Europe have been getting the pen out and filing patents left, right and centre recently. After the European Patent Office (EPO) received a record number of patent applications in 2022, the figure continued on an upward trajectory last year too, according to new data released today by the EPO. 

In 2023, according to the organisation’s most recent Patent Index, there were 199k applications filed, 2.9% more than the year before. 

It typically takes three years from the point of submission for a decision to be made on a patent, says the EPO, and they protect an invention for 20 years before expiring. As Sifted reported last month, however, having a patent gives you ammunition to fight against infringement — but it doesn’t prevent copycats from popping up.


So, in which countries — and sectors — are these patents being filed?

Germany leads the way for European patent applications again

As in last year’s index, Germany is far ahead of the rest of Europe when it comes to the number of patent applications, with more than 25k filings — 12% of the total applications received by the EPO. The top three ranking stays the same as 2022’s list, with France and Switzerland taking second and third place respectively. 

All of the top seven countries in Europe, bar France, saw positive growth in the number of applications filed. 

Spain hosts the biggest proportion of female inventors

Over the last four decades, the EPO has found that the proportion of global applications that name a female inventor has risen from 4% to 23% overall. 

But some geographies are doing better when it comes to gender diversity. Of the EPO states (the EU, plus the UK, Turkey, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) filing more than 2,000 applications a year, Spain led the way for representation, with almost half (46%) of the applications filed in the country naming at least one female inventor. 

Electric machinery and energy saw the biggest growth in applications

More than 17k of the applications filed in 2023 were for digital communication inventions — an 8.6% increase on 2022. Though electrical machinery, apparatus and energy — which includes clean energy and battery tech — only came in fourth place for the number of filings, this sector saw the biggest jump in applications, with 12.2% more than 2022.

Sadia Nowshin

Sadia Nowshin is a reporter at Sifted covering foodtech, biotech and startup life. Follow her on X and LinkedIn