Chinese firms embracing R&D

08 March 2012

BEIJING: Leading Chinese companies such as ZTE and Huawei are starting to match their more established overseas rivals when it comes to prolific innovation, new figures suggest.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation, a division of the United Nations, reported that the number of patents filed under its auspices rose by 10.7% in 2011 to a record 181,900 applications.

ZTE, a Chinese telecoms and networking firm, led the corporate charts having published 2,826 patents last year, an increase of 958 compared with the previous 12 months.

According to the company, over 60% of this activity was linked to 3G services, cloud computing and similar areas regarding the development of the "internet of things".

"Becoming the world number one in PCT applications is a great accomplishment, but not our ultimate goal," Shi Lirong, ZTE's president, said. "Through innovation, we seek to enable people around the world to enjoy enriching life experiences through new technologies."

Panasonic, the Japanese electronics manufacturer, slipped from first to second place year on year, despite having published 310 more applications in 2011, taking its total to 2,463.

Huawei, another Chinese telecoms group, claimed third position on 1,831 patents, bettering 2010's total by 304.

The organisation recently rolled out the Huawei Ascend D smartphone, which it claims is the fastest such device in the world, marking a further step in its moves towards the premium end of the market.

"We've listened to people's top demands from smartphones: speed, long battery life, high quality visual and audio capabilities, and a compact, lightweight handset. The Huawei Ascend D quad exceeds these expectations," Richard Yu, chairman of Huawei Device, said.

Sharp, another electronics group from Japan, was fourth on WIPO's list with 1,755 applications published, ahead of the Robert Bosch Corporation, the German engineering conglomerate, on 1,518.

More broadly, organisations from the US filed the most applications with WIPO, delivering 48,596 across 2011 as a whole, ahead of Japan's 38,888, Germany's 18,568 and China's 16,406.

However, China's total rose by 33.4% year on year, while Japan was up by 21% and the US logged a relatively modest improvement of 8%.

Data sourced from WIPO; additional content by Warc staff