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INESC TEC is the Portuguese institution with the most patent applications within Europe

INESC TEC is the Portuguese institution that filed more patent applications within the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2018. In total, Portugal filed 220 patent applications, nine of which were made by INESC TEC.

28th March 2019

In 2017, INESC TEC was already ranked in second place in terms of the number of European patent applications filed by Portuguese entities. The report of the Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), which was also disclosed this month, shows that INESC TEC submitted 12 patent applications at a national level, being the R&D institute that belongs to the wide scope of consolidation of the University of Porto with more patent applications filed in 2018.

Catarina Maia, Head of INESC TEC’s Technology Licensing Office (SAL), ensures that the institute has always been and still is concerned in making the results suitable to the industry so that it could align them with its business models.

An example of that concern is the fact that INESC TEC is one the most recent members of the European Technology Transfer Offices Circle (TTO Circle), being the first Portuguese institution to be part of this European Commission's initiative.


INESC TEC is the first Portuguese institution in the European Technology Transfer Offices circle

INESC TEC is the first Portuguese institution to be part of the TTO Circle, that is, the European Technology Transfer Offices circle, a European Commission's initiative.

The TTO Circle gathers some of the largest European research institutions such as CERN, ESA (European Space Agency), Fraunhofer, Tecnalia or TNO, aiming at sharing the best practices and knowledge in technology transfer in order to develop joint activities and a general approach regarding the international standards, thus professionalising the activity and promoting it for the European markets. 

The establishment of this network, which aims at influencing some European policies and promoting the best practices of technology transfer, emerged due to the need of the European Union to create more innovation, to harness its knowledge base, to enhance its economic position and to tackle the great social challenges of this century in order to boost its global competitiveness.

“The establishment of the TTO Circle proves that the innovation is at the centre of the political agenda of Brussels. The technology transfer will allow to face the most critical social challenges that we come across at a European level such as health, energy security, climate changes, among others”, concludes Catarina Maia, Head of SAL and the representative of the institution in the TTO Circle.

Catarina Maia 

The technology transfer as an emerging industry

The technology transfer of the academic research context for the companies has a very European style and is becoming more and more similar to an emerging industry – there are several high value technologies, but the landscape is highly fragmented with a lack of critical mass and wide disparities in terms of performances and practices. 

Studies have identified the lack of scale as one of the major issues of this area. It’s precisely this paradigm that the European Union wants to change. For this reason, it’s important for the European Commission to bring together the technology transfer offices and the major research institutions so that they can be pioneering the improvement of this area.


Why is INESC TEC a part of this Brussels’s restricted group?

“Only 31 research institutions are part of the TTO Circle, all of them being large-scale institutions with a solid and well-defined strategy. INESC TEC met all these conditions - it’s the largest institute operating in the engineering area in Portugal and is also one of the institutions with the greatest number of patents submitted at a national level over the last few years. In 2018 alone, 28 patent applications were filed in the areas of digital and electric signal processing, medical technology and security in wireless communication networks. We were also the national institution that filed more patent applications within the European Patent Organisation in 2018 - whereas in 2017 we ranked second place. Currently, we are developing several spin-offs based on proprietary technologies”, explains the Head of SAL. 

Over the last three years alone, eight patents were granted to INESC TEC’s inventions – two of them are related to voice analysis, five are related to digital and electric signal processing, and one is related to power electronics. The patents were granted in the USA (3), Japan (2), Europe (2) and South Korea (1). Looking at the last three years, four spin-offs were created – MitMyNid, LTPLabs, Ubirider and InSignals Neurotech.


Who else is part of the TTO Circle?

Currently, the TTO Circle is composed of the following 30 institutions: CEA, CERN, CIEMAT, CNRS, CNR, DTI, ENEA, ESA, ESRF, ETH Domain, FORTH, Fraunhofer, Helmholtz Association, ILL, Imec, Inria, Jožef Stefan Institute, Leibniz Association, Max Planck Society, RISE, SINTEF, STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council), Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), TECNALIA, The Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), TNO, Tubitak (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey), VITO, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ldt and The Weizmann Institute of Science.

The researcher mentioned in this news piece is associated with INESC TEC.