The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Flexible PV Laminate. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry

Flexible PV laminate is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence 

Flexible PV laminates are designed to be flexible and lightweight as well as durable. They use UV stabilised polymers and absorb light, as well as produce electricity.  

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of flexible PV laminates. 

Key players in flexible PV laminate – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to flexible PV laminate

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Eastman Chemical 130 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 17 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 15 Unlock Company Profile
3M 14 Unlock Company Profile
Yupo 10 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 10 Unlock Company Profile
Electricite de France 9 Unlock Company Profile
Omya International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 6 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Eastman is the leading patent filer in this sector. The technology has applications across various industries including aerospace and defence and can be utilised for solar modules as well as for electronic displays and touch screens. Toray Industries is another leading company in the sector. The company produces flexible PV for solar modules, which can be utilised for space or high altitude solar powered systems. Other key patent filers in the industry include 3M, Yupo and CEA. 

By application diversity, CEA is top, followed by Electricite de France (EDF) and Airbus. By geographic reach, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain is first, followed by Omya International and Toray Industries

The flexible PV laminate technology has significant applications for space systems in particular, and leading companies are chemical companies due to its extremely technical nature, but innovations here will have an impact on the aerospace and defence sector.   

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.