A man hunched over a tablet computer next to light bulbs.
 Light bulbs have gone off at regular intervals in the capital region of Finland since 2010. Image: Mikael Ahlfors / Keksi Agency

Finland leads world in new technology patents per capita in 2000s

Finland led the world in initial patent filings per capita for technologies related to the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in 2000–2018, indicates a report by the European Patent Office (EPO).

Aleksi Teivainen


Inventors in Finland, the report shows, received more than 651 patents per one million inhabitants for such technologies over the 19-year span, outperforming their counterparts in South Korea (525), Sweden (524), Japan (405) and the US (259).

Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution include artificial intelligence, autonomous transport, big data, cloud computing, fifth- and sixth-generation wireless networks, and the Internet of Things.

The Finnish capital region, meanwhile, came in seventh in the absolute number of patents in the realm of 4IR in Europe in 2010–2018, behind Eindhoven (NE), London (GB), Munich (DE), Stockholm (SE), Paris (FR) and Stuttgart. Almost a half, or 45 per cent, of the patents were secured by Nokia.

The most productive urban regions in the world were Seoul (KR), Tokyo (JP) and Silicon Valley (US), each securing roughly 7–10 per cent of patents granted globally in the realm. The European innovation hubs, by contrast, each accounted for around 0.6–1.2 per cent of the patents.

Talouselämä, a Finnish business-oriented newspaper, highlighted that the technological realm has grown “only” at an annual clip of 15 per cent in Europe since 2010. While the rate is roughly on par with those recorded in Japan (16%) and the US (18%), it falls well short of those in South Korea (25%) and China (39%).

Finland also ranked sixth in terms of the per-capita number of patents across industries, according to EPO. Its output was trumped by those of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.


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