Belgian patent applications declined slightly in 2023

Belgian companies, universities and research institutes filed more than 2,500 patent applications with the European Patent Office (EPO) last year, a slight decrease after the record year of 2022. KU Leuven is the largest applicant among European universities, figures from the EPO show.

The EPO received a record 199,275 patent applications in 2023, 2.9 per cent more than the previous year. Belgium did not follow the trend: after two years of growth, the number of applications fell by 2.2 per cent to 2,547. However, Belgium maintained its 13th place in the ranking of patent applicants.

The biotechnology sector accounted for most applications from Belgium, followed by the pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors. The number of biotechnology applications increased by 28 per cent compared to 2022.

"Both biotechnology and medical technology reached the highest levels, showing how innovative these areas of healthcare are in Belgium," says the EPO.

Leuven most prolific

The biggest filers were the Leuven research institute imec, with 187 patent applications, the Brussels-based chemical company Solvay (145) and KU Leuven (107). KU Leuven is the only European university to have filed more than 100 patents, while Ghent University (57) and the University of Antwerp (45) are also among the top 10 European universities.

Of all Belgian patent applications, almost 70 per cent came from companies or organisations in Flanders, around 20 per cent from Wallonia and almost 12 per cent from the Brussels region. Flanders ranks 10th among European regions in terms of the number of patent applications.

The organisation adds that 32 per cent of Belgian applications named at least one female inventor. This was higher than the average of 27 per cent for the EPO's 39 member states.



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