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The Basel Area is a biopharma hotspot.

Roche takes Switzerland to number one for patents

In 2018, no other country in Europe saw more patents filed relative to population size than Switzerland. This has been found by a new report from the European Patent Office. The most Swiss patent applications come from the Basel pharmaceutical giant Roche.


Last year, 956 patent applications were filed per million inhabitants in Switzerland. This puts Switzerland at number one in Europe. Second came the Netherlands, followed by Denmark and Sweden, which all had around 400 applications per million inhabitants. Next in the ranking are Germany and Finland, with well over 300 patents filed in each per million inhabitants. These results are taken from a report by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich.


When compared with the previous year, Swiss patent applications filed with the EPO have increased by 7.8 percent to just 7,927. This growth rate is almost twice the EU average of 3.8 percent.


Most patents in Switzerland were filed by the pharma corporation Roche (651 applications), which is therefore the leader for the fourth consecutive year. At number two comes the ABB (571), followed by Nestlé (382) and Novartis (305). The 25 most successful Swiss applicants also include three universities: with 80 applications, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) was placed at 13, while the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) was at 17 with 66 applications and the University of Zurich at 21 with 55 applications.


By international comparison, Siemens filed for the most patents. On this list, Roche came in at number 24, ABB at 35 and Nestlé at 49. In the biotechnology segment, however, Roche was again number one worldwide.


“In relation to patents, Switzerland once more saw very strong growth in 2018. When it comes to patent applications per inhabitant, it clearly sets itself apart from other European countries,” commented EPO President António Campinos in a press release on “This emphasizes the outstanding innovation potential of the country, which continues to grow based on the rise of patent applications.”



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