Digital GreenTech – the example of European regions

The map shows the cumulative number of digital patents in 60 green technologies per region in Europe. The height of the bar shows the number of digital GreenTech patents relative to the other regions. Darker green colours indicate a high number of digital patents in GreenTech in these regions. ctrl/cmd click to change perspective, double click to zoom, or use tools in top right corner, mouse over regions for additional information

What is Digital GreenTech?

A comprehensive overview of the use of digitization in GreenTech  can be obtained by means of an in-depth patent analysis. For this purpose, digital and GreenTech technologies are linked and analyses multi-dimensionally. The EconSight approach is based on three central findings: 1. Innovation does not predominantly arise from new technologies, but rather from the intelligent combination of existing technologies; 2. digitization is one of the most important drivers; 3. digitization is not an end in itself, but works in combination with other technologies and thus leads to new products and processes in those technologies.

A special feature of the patent system is used to identify digital patents in climate-relevant technologies. Patents can be assigned to several patent classes and carry more than one technology information. In particular, high-quality patents that have more broadly defined claims are often assigned to classes and technologies. Thus, all patents that can be assigned to a climate or environmental protection technology as well as to a digital technology are identified.

EconSight has defined 20 advanced digital technologies that can be combined with any other technology, in this case GreenTech.

  • Process automation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cloud computing
  • Semiconductor production
  • Touch technology
  • Machine to machine / device to device / vehicle to vehicle communication
  • Digital sensors
  • Wireless communication hardware
  • Fintech
  • 5G
  • Big data
  • Encryption technologies
  • Speech analysis technologies
  • 3D image analysis
  • Virtual reality / augmented reality
  • Streaming technologies
  • Quantum computers
  • Gesture analysis
  • block chain
  • digital twin

World class patents in artificial intelligence, 2000-2020

Digital technologies are one of the main drivers. The chart below focusses on the artificial intelligence technology and  shows the best 400 regions worldwide.The analysis is not restricted to GreenTech and introduces an additional EconSight feature – world class patents. EconSight calculates the value of every single patent worldwide and focusses on the top 10% patents in terms of value. The value is calculated by taking the technological relevance (citations of  patents, adjusted for age) and market coverage (number of countries where patent protection is applied for, adjusted for market size) into account.

The chart shows the development over time from 2000 to 2020. In this case world strength (regional share of world patents in AI) and specialisation (regional share of AI in total regional patents) are shown on the axis instead of the European view in the other charts .

It can be seen that European regions are far behind US regions in world class patents in AI and they also overtaken by Asian regions in recent years. It has to be noted that Europe is more competitive in most other advanced digital technologies. But Apart from AI, Big Data and Cloud Computing are also major challenges for Europe.