European Patent Insight Study: “Quantum Technologies & Space”
(SpacewatchGlobal) The second study resulting from the partnership of the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA) titled “Quantum technologies and space” has been published. This new study addresses space applications of quantum technologies.
Primary uses of Quantum technologies in the space environment are in secure communications, in time and frequency transfer, and in Earth sensing and observation.
In the patent filing analysis, the study considered three key quantum technologies that enable these main applications:
–quantum key distribution
–cold atom clocks
–cold atom interferometers
Why this approach? Exploitation of patent databases and can reveal new insights into sector trends and support informed decision-making processes. Patents provide means of observing technology trends, key innovators and policy impacts.
The analysis of global patent filing data over a 20-year period (2001 – 2020) has yielded several key findings:
–Space applications of quantum technologies are a fast-growing domain, with patent filings increasing by more than 400% over the last five years.
–This growth is driven primarily by innovation in quantum key distribution, which accounted for the majority of the analysed dataset (78%).
–At the same time, space applications of quantum technologies remain a niche segment, representing only a fraction of the overall quantum technologies domain.
–Most space-related quantum technologies innovations originate outside Europe, with the USA and China leading the global patent filings.
–The majority of patent filings in quantum key distribution, cold atom clocks and cold atom interferometers are not from the same key players, pointing to a high level of specialisation and limited synergies.