The European Medical Technology in Figures

Innovation Last update 15.10.2020

Key Facts


average global R&D investment rate

18-24 months

product lifecycle


of all Medtech patent applications filed in 2019 were granted

Medical technology is characterised by a constant flow of innovations, which are the results of a high level of research and development within the industry, and of close cooperation with the users. The average global Research & Development investment rate (R&D spending as a percentage of sales) is estimated to be around 8% in the medical technology sector 1. Products typically have a lifecycle of only 18-24 months before an improved product becomes available.

In 2019, nearly 14,000 patent applications were filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) in the field of medical technology representing a 0.9% growth in patent applications compared to the previous year. The medical technology field accounts for 7.7% of the total number of applications, second highest among all the sectors in Europe. In comparison, around 7,700 applications were filed in the pharmaceutical field and around 6,800 in the field of biotechnology (Figure 2 “Top 10 technical fields in patent application”). 39% of the medical technology patent applications were filed from EPO countries (including EU27, UK, Norway and Switzerland) and 61% from other countries, the majority of which come from the US (40%).

While over the last decade the number of EPO filings in the field of medical technology has doubled, pharma and biotech patent applications were relatively stagnant. Furthermore, the ratio of granted patents to patent applications in the medical technology sector has been continuously growing in the past years reaching 76% in 2019. In comparison, this ratio is around 50% in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology field (Figure 3 “Evolution of European patents by technical field”).

Country of origin of medical technology patent applications - 2019 2

Top 10 technical fields in patent application - 2019 2

Evolution of European patents by technical field - Last update - 2019 2