An analysis of patent filing data has brought attention to a substantial decline in foreign investment in the UK’s low-carbon vehicle market, indicating a worrying trend.

The report, compiled by Source Advisors, reveals a three-fold decrease in foreign engagement in low-carbon vehicle innovation within the UK over the past five years, raising concerns about the country’s attractiveness for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in this crucial sector.

The data reveals a 79% reduction in the total number of low-carbon patents in the UK, with a notable decline in the number of foreign filers engaging in the market. In 2015, foreign companies dominated the sector, holding all top 10 positions for patent filings. However, by 2020, the landscape had shifted significantly, with UK-owned Rolls Royce featuring among the top patent filers.

Economic uncertainty and an unpredictable political landscape explain the decline in investor confidence in the UK market, the report authors said. Despite this, the report highlights a positive trend in the growth of low-carbon vehicle patents from UK companies, with a 31% increase over the five years.

Patent data

While Germany, the US, and Japan continue to lead innovative activity in low-carbon vehicle technology, patent filings from these countries in the UK have decreased significantly. The USA has seen an 84% reduction, while Germany is down by 73%, indicating a shift in perception regarding the importance of the UK market.

Alec Griffiths, IP Manager at Source Advisors, emphasises the significance of patents as indicators of innovation within industries, especially in greener transportation. The data provides valuable insights into the immediate impact of the Brexit vote and suggests potential market uncertainty following recent announcements adjusting no-carbon vehicle targets.

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Akshay Thaman, IP & Policy Lead at Source Advisors, notes the importance of foreign investment for the growth of skilled jobs and the development of technologies in the UK. The decline in foreign filers suggests a shift in priorities, with businesses focusing on markets where they manufacture, sell, and use technologies.

The analysis is based on the latest available and reliable patent data from 2015 to 2020, and while recent data (2021-2023) is likely incomplete, the report serves as a comprehensive metric for tracking innovation in the low-carbon vehicle sector. The research was published on October 23.

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