New Industry Reports & Patent Data Show Continuing Surge of Fourth Industrial Revolution

New global trends from around the show continued growth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fueled by the impact of COVID-19.

Prior to the pandemic, reports indicated a major global movement towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). According to the European Patent Office, patent applications for 4IR technologies experienced a 20% annual growth rate from 2018 to 2020, up from 12.8% between 2000 and 2009. AI patents filings alone increased 54% within the U.S.

While the initial pandemic outbreak presented uncertainty on the state of the 4IR, new reports present hopeful data that COVID-19 may have actually increased the momentum.

One report from our Korean foreign counsel Kim, Hong & Associates, showcases a 11.2% increase in Korean patent applications geared towards 4IR emerging technologies. This increase shadow’s the mere 3.3% increase in total Korean patent applications, revealing COVID-19’s impact on Korea’s innovative focuses. Notable, the report indicates that of the various emerging technologies, digital healthcare and biomarker-related patent applications rose 30% in comparison to the prior year. Additionally, health care applications utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies rose over 79% and applications utilizing big data increased just over 52%.

Additionally, according to a survey of 800 executives based in the U.S. and seven other tech-dominant countries, 67% of respondents reported that their companies have accelerated automation and artificial intelligence adoption following the pandemic. The report also indicates that over three quarters of executives within finance, insurance, and technology industries are increasing their company’s implementation of AI technologies.

While the initial reports and data points continue to trickle out regarding the state of innovation in a post-pandemic world, these glimpses present indicators that frontier technologies continue to drive innovation globally.

Emerging Technologies of
The Industrial Revolutions
First Industrial Revolution
1760 - 1840

Mechanical Production, Coal, Steam Engine, Railroads
Second Industrial Revolution
1870 - 1914

New Energy Sources (electricity, gas, and oil), Internal Combustion Engine, Automobile, Electricity
Third Industrial Revolution
1960 - Early 2000s

Nuclear Energy, First Programmable Controller, Electronics, Computers, Robots
Fourth Industrial Revolution (“4IR” or “Industry 4.0”)
2012 - Present

Automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Big Data, Cloud Computing, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D & 4D printing, 5G high-speed mobile internet

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