Denmark among world’s elite inventive nations

Christian Wenande
May 11th, 2017

This article is more than 6 years old.

Danes top per capita in terms of biotech, medicinal and environmental patents, but IT woes are worrying

The bulbs burn bright in Denmark (photo: Pixabay)

When it comes to discovering innovative and groundbreaking ideas, few nations rival Denmark, according to new figures from the OECD.

The Danish confederation of industry, Dansk Industri (DI), has analysed the OECD figures and found that Denmark is among the very top nations in the world per capita for coming up with new ideas and applying for patents in a number of sectors.

Denmark is at the zenith globally when it comes to the biotechnological arena, in which it ranks first per capita in terms of applications for new patents. In Denmark there are 33 patent applications per million citizens, well ahead of Switzerland (21).

The Danes also lead the way in terms of environmental patents per capita, while they rank third for patents per capita in the medicinal sector.

“It’s great that a country is inventive. But this is of little value if the ideas cannot be converted into products or technologies that can be protected and profited from,” said Jesper Kongstad, the head of the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.

“The good news is that Denmark and Danish companies are European champions at this.”

Kongstad contends that it’s most relevant for Denmark to compare themselves to other European nations, as the patent systems in the US and Japan are considerably different from the European model.

READ MORE: Singularity University opening organisation in Denmark

Tech troubles
However, Denmark aren’t top of the pops in all walks of invention, particularly regarding patents pertaining to IT solutions for which the Danes rank 10th on OECD’s list of international patents per capita.

“We are clearly trailing Sweden – and also nations like Finland, the Netherlands and Germany,” said Charlotte Rønhof, the deputy head of DI.

“It’s an unfortunate situation considering how important digitalisation and industry 4.0 will become for Danish companies and society – now and in the future.”

Rønhof maintains it is particularly low public investment in IT research that is a barrier to improvement. Currently, IT makes up just 5 percent of public research funding and Denmark is among the bottom in the OECD regarding public investment in technical and natural science research.


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