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With the third quarter (Q3) results in for 2023, GlobalData’s Patent Analytics indicates that the aerospace and defence industry has had its lowest patent count since the Covid-19 lockdowns halted the global economy in 2020.

This was already a concern for last quarter when the patent trend had maintained a steady decline.

GlobalData says that there were only 1,570 patents during Q3 2023. This is a significant reduction from Q2, which already had a low count of 124,980 patents. With a range of 123,410 – this difference represents a fourfold reduction in patent publications.

In Q3 2022, GlobalData registered 194,820 patents; 129,424 in Q4; 152,842 in Q1 2023; 124.980 in Q2 and now 1,570 for Q3. While there has been a steady decline in patents in the past year, Q3 marks a considerable shift in patents, and therefore competition for innovation in the defence industry.

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Graph displaying the steady decline in patents since Q3 2020. The dotted line represents the substantial fourfold reduction for Q3 2023. Credit: GlobalData Aerospace, Defence and Security Intelligence Centre.

Fourfold reduction suggests military-industrial expansion fails to invigorate innovation

As the number of patents per quarter indicate the progress of innovation, the steady decline is a curious inconsistency with the conversations and rhetoric coming from the aerospace and defence industry.

With a geopolitical climate dominated by the US-China rivalry, the reduction does not complement the enormous military-industrial expansion, at least since the start of the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022.

Nations around the world are mobilising their defence industries and incentivising new start-up to lead the way with innovative dual-use technologies.