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News article16 June 2024European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency1 min read

New EPO Patent Insight Report: Propulsion Systems for Space

epo space

Propulsion is a key element in all space activities because it provides the fundamental function of producing thrust to move launchers, satellites, and other assets from Earth to space or within space. 

European Patent Office (EPO) has just published a Patent Insight Report that investigates the development of the technology of propulsion in the space sector. This study conducted by the EPO and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).  For the purposes of the study, a total of 4,559 patent families filed at 52 patent authorities have been identified. These patents involve applicants registered in 43 countries and inventors from 53 countries.

The study reveals that globally, patent activity in space propulsion systems has seen a substantial rise over the past 20 years, with an average annual growth rate of 9%. International patent activity is predominantly concentrated in major countries or regions that have traditionally dominated the space sector. These include the US, Europe (mainly France and Germany), Japan, China, and Russia. Over the past 20 years, European applicants have accounted for 37% of internationally filed patent families. However, there is both an absolute and relative slowdown in the development of propulsion systems in Europe, reflecting the continent's stagnant position in other high-tech sectors.




Publication date
16 June 2024
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency