The crisis and the cuts They have taken their toll on Catalan and Spanish innovation. According to a pioneering study by the Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRi), Catalan patent applications plummeted 64% between 2006 and 2017, from 775 to 275 records, while in Spain as a whole the fall percentage was 37%, with a decrease from 3,438 to 2,509 applications.
"While worldwide the patent application grows year after year, in Spain the opposite happens. The economic crisis and government cuts have slowed investment in innovation throughout the country, hence fewer requests than in the previous year. At the university level, there is growing concern about the continued decline of research budgets. In Catalonia, university patents fell by 21% during this decade ", laments Vittorio Galletto, doctor in Economics who has participated in this research.
The fall reaches 20% in Catalonia in the last decade
The study, called Characterization of the patents of the Catalan universities and the centers Nearby, it is the result of pioneering work that collects data presented at any patent office in the world. Therefore, the results may differ with respect to previously published reports that only refer to estimates of a patent office. (In the last edition of March 13, The vanguard it was claimed that Spain had requested 6.3% more patents at the European Patent Office in 2018). This new report brings together 18.3 million applications between the years 2007 and 2016. It can not provide more up-to-date information because the offices must keep secret about the most recent applications.
So, this new radiography gives light to a reality that until now seemed just the opposite. Another conclusion that contrasts with those previously published is that the UPC (and not the UAB or the UB) is the university that leads the patent registry during this decade, with 341 applications in total. The UB (149) and the UAB (with 126) follow a long way behind.
Chemistry, biotech and energy, keys in Catalonia
Focusing on sectors, in Catalonia, chemistry, industrial biotechnology and the production of alternative energies stand out, both in the university field and in industry. It is a pattern that resembles Spanish, led by the sectors of chemistry, human needs and physics. Another indicator that defines the innovative fabric is the percentage of patents that universities have requested in each territory. While in Catalonia these have a weight of 12% of the total, in Spain the percentage rises to 15%, while in Andalusia it is 52% and in Madrid it is 22%.
"Where the business fabric is stronger, less is the university," says Galletto, who is convinced that it is a good sign of the economy of each territory that the percentage of university patents is low. To contextualize it, in the United States, France, Germany, Israel and Japan university patents represent less than 5%, while in South Korea they mean 9% and in Russia, 20%.
The report also provides, for the first time, a global vision of the applications that finally end up being granted. While in the case of non-university patents (presented by companies and individuals) the success cases are 47%, in applications submitted by research centers the percentage rises to 56%, which suggests a better quality of university patents.
Lack of female talent in the innovation sector
Finally, the study highlights the lack of female talent in the innovation sector. Whether in the world as a whole, in Spain or Catalonia few women are inventors. According to the study, only an average of 10% of patents have been requested by women between 2007 and 2016. In Spain, this percentage is 20% and in Catalonia, 22%. These are figures that are far from reaching parity and are even more worrisome if observed year by year.
In Catalonia, the data show that the percentage of inventors in 2016 was 17%, a level similar to that of 2007. The trend was rising until it was truncated in 2013. That year, the percentage was 27% and Since then, he has not done more than go down.