Research and innovation in big data in the pharmaceutical sector is on the rise.

The most recent figures show that the number of big data patent applications in the industry stood at 66 in the three months ending October – up from 64 over the same period last year.

Figures for patent grants related to big data followed a different pattern to filings – shrinking from 47 in the three months ending October last year to 25 this year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

Big data is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd was the top big data innovator in the pharmaceutical sector in the last quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in Switzerland, filed 63 big data related patents in the three months ending October. That was up from 39 over the same period last year.

It was followed by the United States based Johnson & Johnson with 60 big data patent applications, Germany based Bayer AG (12 applications), and the United States based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (9 applications).

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd has recently ramped up R&D in big data. It saw growth of 38.1% in related patent applications in the three months ending October compared to the same period last year - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the pharmaceutical sector.