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Patents prompting ‘rebirth’ of innovation in industry

Published on 13/11/15 at 10:21am
Thomson Reuters used research leading to patents as a proxy for innovation

Seven pharma companies have been rated among the world’s 100 most innovative companies, according to Thomson Reuters.

The business intelligence firm compiled a list of the top 100 global innovators by analysing the patents filed and granted by companies from a range of commercial sectors. Patents were used as “a proxy for innovation and… a driver of economic growth and success.”

Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Roche, Abbott, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Boehringer Ingelheim all feature in the list, with the latter three companies new to the list in 2015.

“As genomics drives the era of precision medicine and more and more therapies are being developed to specifically target mutant cells, especially as witnessed in oncology, in addition to the use of biologics in developing new treatments, the pharmaceutical space is experiencing a pseudo rebirth, despite the decline of the Blockbuster drug era,”, the authors say.

The report, by the Thomson Reuters intellectual property and science division, found that the pharma sector has seen consistent growth over the past four years. Its largest representation comes from three companies from the US, and two each from Germany and Switzerland.

However UK companies are absent from the list – and Thomson Reuters warns this is tied to a lack of investment in UK R&D. The UK also spends much less on R&D as a percentage of GDP than other countries: 1.63%, a noteworthy difference from the 2.73% in the US, 2.23% in France, 2.85% in Germany, and a 'whopping' 3.47% in Japan. “The region’s underuse of its patent system and lack of significant commercialisation keep the UK from making the list once again,” the report says.

Innovation incentives introduced in the UK, such as Patent Box legislation, which provides tax credits and incentives to UK-based companies with profits derived from sales of patented products or processes, have not yet had an impact and will take a couple of years to take effect, given the lag-time between discovery, protection and commercialisation.

Basil Moftah, president of Thomson Reuters IP and science unit, concludes: “Notable increases in pharmaceutical innovation support the growing use of pharmaceuticals in adjacent industries, such as with cosmeceuticals in the cosmetics space, as well as the increasing dependence on prescription medication. People may be living longer, but not without various support measures that extend and improve the quality of life.”

Lilian Anekwe 

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