The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the evolution of new treatment paradigms, gravity of unmet need, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as pharmacogenomics, digital therapeutics, and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 633,000 patents filed and granted in the pharmaceutical industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Pharmaceuticals: Coronavirus vaccine components. 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.

110 innovations will shape the pharmaceutical industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry using innovation intensity models built on over 756,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, cell therapy for ocular disorders, coronavirus vaccine components, and DNA polymerase compositions are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Adeno-associated virus vectors, alcohol dehydrogenase compositions, and antibody serum stabilisers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are anti-influenza antibody compositions and anti-interleukin-1, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry

Coronavirus vaccine components is a key innovation area in pharmaceuticals

Components used in vaccines include antigens, preservatives, stabilisers, surfactants, residuals, diluents, and adjuvants. The key component in all vaccines is one or more active ingredients made from viruses or bacteria, also called antigens, which generates an immune response.

The active component of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine tozinameran, contains the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein, inside a lipid (fat) capsule. The vaccine also contains other inactive ingredients such as cholesterol. The Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaxzevria vaccine is made from a modified adenovirus that delivers the genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein. The vaccine also contains inactive ingredients such as polysorbate 80, an emulsifier, a small amount of alcohol, and traces of magnesium (three to 20 parts per million).

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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of coronavirus vaccine components.

Key players in coronavirus vaccine components – a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical 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 coronavirus vaccine components

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Sanofi 130 Unlock Company Profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 122 Unlock Company Profile
Merck & Co 76 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 74 Unlock Company Profile
Zoetis 54 Unlock Company Profile
US Department of Health and Human Services 49 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 48 Unlock Company Profile
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation 45 Unlock Company Profile
Novavax 40 Unlock Company Profile
Curevac 40 Unlock Company Profile
United Nations Industrial Development Organization 37 Unlock Company Profile
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 29 Unlock Company Profile
Excivion 22 Unlock Company Profile
United States Of America 21 Unlock Company Profile
GSK 20 Unlock Company Profile
Moderna 19 Unlock Company Profile
Trustee for Horizon 19 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defense 19 Unlock Company Profile
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology 18 Unlock Company Profile
Inovio Pharmaceuticals 18 Unlock Company Profile
Academia Sinica 17 Unlock Company Profile
Theravectys 17 Unlock Company Profile
Institut Pasteur 17 Unlock Company Profile
New York Blood Center 15 Unlock Company Profile
Reber Genetics 15 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 14 Unlock Company Profile
FDS Pharma LLP 12 Unlock Company Profile
Etubics 12 Unlock Company Profile
Erasmus MC 11 Unlock Company Profile
PerkinElmer 11 Unlock Company Profile
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 11 Unlock Company Profile
Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore 10 Unlock Company Profile
Trustee For Rope Pro Unit Trust 10 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Anjie Biomedical Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
CareGroup 9 Unlock Company Profile
TenGen Biomedical 9 Unlock Company Profile
Universidad El Bosque 9 Unlock Company Profile
US Government 9 Unlock Company Profile
Cellectis 9 Unlock Company Profile
NOF 9 Unlock Company Profile
Kitasato Daiichi Sankyo Vaccine 8 Unlock Company Profile
CanSino Biologics 7 Unlock Company Profile
iSD Immunotech 7 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Agriculture 7 Unlock Company Profile
Stichting Tech Wetenschapp 7 Unlock Company Profile
Sinovac Biotech 6 Unlock Company Profile
Valneva 6 Unlock Company Profile
American Type Culture Collection 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hawaii Biotech 6 Unlock Company Profile
IP Group 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Sanofi is the leading patent filer in coronavirus vaccine components. Sanofi is an innovative global healthcare company, whose primary focus is on rare diseases, rare blood disorders, neurology, immunology, and oncology. C. H. Boehringer Sohn and Merck are the other key patent filers in coronavirus vaccine components.

In terms of application diversity, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is the top company, followed by Kitasato Daiichi Sankyo Vaccine and Excivion. By means of geographic reach, F. Hoffmann-La Roche held the top position, while TenGen Biomedical and Universidad El Bosque stood in the second and third positions, respectively.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the pharmaceutical industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Pharmaceutical.

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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.