Europe is leading the 4th Industrial Revolution technologies market
According to a recent study published by the European Patent Office (EPO), Europe is the leader within the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies industry.
The report, dubbed ‘Patents and the 4th Industrial Revolution’ reveals that in 2016 more patents relating to 4IR technologies originated in Europe than anywhere else across the world.
The EPO based its findings from data about patent fillings in three sectors: ICT to create connected objects; enabling technologies – such as artificial intelligence and user interfaces; and key areas of application, including vehicles, entertainment, and the home.
The report claims that 29% of all EPO patent fillings relating to 4IR technologies originated from Europe.
The US followed with 25%, then Japan with 18%, followed by Germany, France, and the UK, who respectively originated 8%, 6%, and 3% patents.
“Filing activity in the area of smart connected devices really took off in the mid-1990s and since then inventors of core technologies have secured a strong foundation of global patents, which is now providing a springboard for a second and third wave of innovation,” commented Karl Barnfather, Chairman at Withers & Rogers, an intellectual property firm.
“There is a massive opportunity for UK-based innovators of second and third tier technologies to capitalise on the work that has been achieved to date; developing novel apps or interface systems that will help to make smart connected devices part of our everyday lives.
“However, there is a race to market and it is important that innovators don’t lose out and secure commercial protection for their inventions.”
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.