In 2020, the year when the global Covid pandemic kicked-off, despite the shrinking of the global GDP, the filling of patents increased; protecting the intellectually property of the most committed to technological innovation. An important figure, because it is countercyclical: despite the pandemic, there were approximately 276,000 patent applications to the UN World Intellectual Property Office (Wipo), an increase of 4% compared to 2019.
For the second year in the history of the Wipo, established in ’78, China was the first country for international patent applications in the world, extending its advantage over the United States, with 68,720 applications (+ 16%) against 59,230 (+ 3%) of the USA. In third place came Japan (50,520 applications, -4.1%). In Europe stands Germany, in fifth place.
Italy, despite being still out of the Top Ten, recorded a 2.9% increase in patents presented, with margins constantly growing in recent years, even compared to other more highly rated European countries such as France and Germany itself. A trend that bodes well.
Patents are in fact an important indicator, because they testify how an economy is able to face the new challenges created by social and technological evolution and how capable it is of creating original products, which can then create value, thanks to the intellectual property.
Among the fields of technology, in our country, information technology stands out (9.2% of the total), followed by digital communication (8.3%), medical technology (6.6%), electrical machinery (6, 6%) and measurement (4.8%).
Keeping in mind the good work done in recent years, made possible by the fruitful collaboration of the public with the private sector, now is the time for the decisive step, for a change of pace. The opportunity is given by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr), the Italian recovery plan which, with Mission 4, allocates around €32billion to education and research (17%), a decision in discontinuity with past funding policies of this sector. In order for these investments to have concrete effects, without losing this historic opportunity, certain conditions must be respected and the overall framework must not be lost sight of. On all, two elements: the PNRR investments must be accompanied by current expenditure to strengthen research – public funds or self-financing of universities – and must be supported by adequate reforms with targeted interventions, for example doctoral training and the placement of phds/pdras, a strategic issue for the competitiveness of our country in the coming years.