Roche, headquartered in Basel, was the Swiss company to make the most European patent applications in 2016. Photo: Roche
The alpine country filed 892 European patent applications per million inhabitants in 2016, according to the European Patent Office (EPO), up 2.5 percent on the previous year.
That’s more than the Netherlands, in second place with 405 applications, and Sweden in third, with 360 applications.
The first non-European country was Japan in ninth place, with 166 applications per million, above the EU average of 122.
In terms of raw numbers, the small alpine country of eight million people placed fifth behind behemoths the US, Germany, Japan and France.
Belgium saw the biggest growth in European patent applications, up seven percent on 2015.
Switzerland’s success came in a record year which saw the EPO publish 96,000 granted patents, 40 percent more than in 2015 and a new high for the organization.
While the total number of patent applications was on a par with last year – 160,000 – the EPO also saw a record number of patent filings in 2016, up 6.2 percent to 296,000.
“The figure is an indicator of the growing demand for patent protection from businesses worldwide”, the EPO said in a statement.
Within Switzerland, the cantons of Zurich and Vaud were the top European regions for patent applications, with Zurich seeing a growth of 13.8 percent on the previous year.
The two regions are home to numerous multinationals as well as the country’s two world-leading technology institutions, the EHT Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne, which made 71 and 80 patent applications respectively in 2016.
Among Swiss companies, pharmaceutical multinational Hoffmann-La Roche made the most patent applications (644), followed by tech leader ABB (553), food giant Nestle (442) and pharma company Novartis (316).