The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the evolution of new treatment paradigms, and the gravity of unmet needs, 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: CRISPR vectors.

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

CRISPR vectors is a key innovation area in pharmaceutical development

CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system works by cutting DNA precisely and allowing natural DNA repair processes to take over. The system consists of two parts, the Cas9 enzyme and a guide RNA. The delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 components into the cell fall into two broad categories, viral and non-viral.

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 120 companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of CRISPR vectors.

Key players in CRISPR vectors – 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 CRISPR vectors

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
CRISPR Therapeutics 198 Unlock company profile
Editas Medicine 181 Unlock company profile
E. Merck 172 Unlock company profile
Inscripta 122 Unlock company profile
Massachusetts General Hospital 99 Unlock company profile
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 97 Unlock company profile
Intellia Therapeutics 94 Unlock company profile
Caribou Biosciences 81 Unlock company profile
Corteva 74 Unlock company profile
Bayer 64 Unlock company profile
General Hospital 58 Unlock company profile
Vertex Pharmaceuticals 57 Unlock company profile
Sangamo Therapeutics 56 Unlock company profile
Beam Therapeutics 52 Unlock company profile
Bristol-Myers Squibb 44 Unlock company profile
ToolGen 42 Unlock company profile
Seattle Children's Hospital 41 Unlock company profile
Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories 39 Unlock company profile
Modalis Therapeutics 38 Unlock company profile
Fate Therapeutics 35 Unlock company profile
Danaher 34 Unlock company profile
IONTAS 34 Unlock company profile
KSQ Therapeutics 33 Unlock company profile
EdiGene 32 Unlock company profile
G+FLAS Life Sciences 30 Unlock company profile
Cellectis 27 Unlock company profile
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 25 Unlock company profile
Arc Bio 25 Unlock company profile
Keygene 25 Unlock company profile
Arbor Biotechnologies 24 Unlock company profile
Tropic Biosciences UK 24 Unlock company profile
Flagship Pioneering 24 Unlock company profile
Application of Information and Communication Technologies (AICT) 24 Unlock company profile
Excision BioTherapeutics 24 Unlock company profile
Rocket Pharmaceuticals 22 Unlock company profile
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 22 Unlock company profile
Sanofi 21 Unlock company profile
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 20 Unlock company profile
Puretech Health 19 Unlock company profile
Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine 19 Unlock company profile
Intima Bioscience 19 Unlock company profile
AnGes 18 Unlock company profile
Royal DSM 18 Unlock company profile
Ginkgo Bioworks Holdings 17 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 17 Unlock company profile
China National Chemical 17 Unlock company profile
Snipr Technologies 17 Unlock company profile
UAB Research Foundation 16 Unlock company profile
SNIPR Biome 15 Unlock company profile
BlueAllele 14 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

CRISPR Therapeutics is the leading patent filer in CRISPR vectors. It is a gene editing company and focuses on the development of transformative medicines using its proprietary CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing platform. Its major development programs include ex vivo programs involving gene editing of hematopoietic cells, ex vivo programs in immuno-oncology, in vivo programs targeting the liver, and additional in vivo programs targeting other organ systems, including muscle and lung.

In terms of application diversity, Poseida Therapeutics is the top company, followed by Puretech Health and CARsgen Therapeutics. By means of geographic reach, Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories hold the top position. Massachusetts General Hospital and Biocad stand in 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.


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.