In November, the European Patent Office and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) published a report into patenting activities for quantum technologies, specifically as they relate to the space sector.

Not surprisingly, the research has found there to be significant growth of patent filings (2001-2020) for quantum technologies (QT) which are used in space technologies for earth observation, navigation and communication.

In its patent filing analysis, the study considered three key quantum technologies that enable these main application areas:

  • Quantum Key distribution (that uses quantum physics to secure the distribution of symmetric encryption keys),
  • Cold Atom Clocks (the most precise and accurate frequency standards) and
  • Cold Atom Interferometers (who have the potential to revolutionise sectors, such as navigation and positioning, resource exploration, geophysical studies, and fundamental physics).

You can see a summary of the findings here and a page with a link to the full report here.

(note that the above text is mostly derived from the above summaries)

The report makes for interesting reading, as both the quantum and space sectors are growing (especially here in Scotland!).  This kind of increase in patent filing activity represents a large amount of underlying research and development, so we can be sure to see exciting commercial developments in the future.  It’s clear that certain companies and organisations will be well positioned to have strong patent portfolios in this niche and seem well positioned to be key influencers in the future.

The report is also a good example of the kind of intelligence that can be derived from patent data, which is freely available to the public.  If you are interested in how these kind of reports are put together, the accompanying Supplementary Material contains some really useful explanations of the methodology and search strategies used in putting the report together.

Happy reading!


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