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 Key innovation: Leading companies in nanoparticles for drug delivery.

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, automated lab analysers, tissue culturing automation, and clean room robots are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Nanoparticles for drug delivery, microneedles for transdermal drug delivery, and programmable sterilisation are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are controlled drug release devices, and DNA nanoprobes, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the pharmaceutical industry

Nanoparticles for drug delivery is a key innovation

A nanoparticle is a small particle ranging in size from 1 to 100 nanometres. Nanoparticles are used as novel drug delivery systems to deliver drugs to specific tissues and to provide controlled release therapy. With the targeted and sustained delivery of drugs, patients are more likely to comply with less frequent dosing and experience less drug toxicity. Metal nanoparticles, liposomes, nanocrystals, and polymeric nanoparticles are the most common types of nanoparticles. Transporting insoluble drugs into the blood through stable colloidal systems and controlled drug release is one of the major advantages of this.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of nanoparticles for drug delivery.

Key players in nanoparticles for drug delivery – 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 nanoparticles for drug delivery

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Bristol-Myers Squibb 96 Unlock company profile
Ipsen 76 Unlock company profile
Insmed 39 Unlock company profile
Laboratory Skin Care 37 Unlock company profile
Marinus Pharmaceuticals 35 Unlock company profile
Yuhan 33 Unlock company profile
SN BioScience 28 Unlock company profile
Midatech Pharma 23 Unlock company profile
Leading Edge Innovations 21 Unlock company profile
Intezyne 20 Unlock company profile
SignPath Pharma 19 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 17 Unlock company profile
Nuvessl Frozen Desserts 17 Unlock company profile
Phosphorex 16 Unlock company profile
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals 16 Unlock company profile
Trendmed 14 Unlock company profile
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne 13 Unlock company profile
NanoValent Pharmaceuticals 12 Unlock company profile
GreenMark Biomedical 12 Unlock company profile
UK Research and Innovation 12 Unlock company profile
Samyang Holdings 12 Unlock company profile
Aquestive Therapeutics 12 Unlock company profile
Children's Hospital Los Angeles 11 Unlock company profile
Biophile 11 Unlock company profile
Op Nano 11 Unlock company profile
Comfort Care For Animals 10 Unlock company profile
Pfizer 10 Unlock company profile
Aphios 9 Unlock company profile
Spanish National Research Council 9 Unlock company profile
MAA Laboratories 8 Unlock company profile
Nitto Denko 8 Unlock company profile
Laila Pharmaceuticals Pvt 8 Unlock company profile
Crystalplex 8 Unlock company profile
HERMES Biosciences 8 Unlock company profile
IP Group 7 Unlock company profile
Nanobiotix 7 Unlock company profile
MonoSol Rx 7 Unlock company profile
Kimia Zist Parsian (Kzp) 6 Unlock company profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 5 Unlock company profile
Avadel Pharmaceuticals 5 Unlock company profile
Abbott Laboratories 5 Unlock company profile
Akina 5 Unlock company profile
PT Soho Global Health Tbk 5 Unlock company profile
Transave 5 Unlock company profile
Malvern Cosmeceutics 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Bristol-Myers Squibb is the leading patent filer in nanoparticles for drug delivery. BMS has a market cap of $154.16bn and is primarily focused on oncology, haematology, cardiovascular, immunology, and fibrotic therapeutic projects. In 2005, the FDA approved Bristol-Myers Squibb's Abraxane, a PX albumin-bound nanoparticle formulation with 130nm particles, for treating metastatic breast cancer. Ipsen SA and Insmed Inc are the other key patent filers in nanoparticles for drug delivery

In terms of application diversity, Laila Pharmaceuticals is the top company, followed by Yuhan and Spanish National Research Council. By means of geographic reach, Children's Hospital Los Angeles held the top position. Spanish National Research Council and Bristol-Myers Squibb stand 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 Internet of Things (IoT) in Healthcare – Thematic Research.


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.