Research and innovation in artificial intelligence in the medical sector has declined in the last quarter – but remains higher than it was a year ago.

The most recent figures show that the number of AI related patent applications in the industry stood at 239 in the three months ending March – up from 192 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to AI followed a similar pattern to filings – growing from 29 in the three months ending March 2021 to 36 in the same period in 2022.

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.

AI 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.

Johnson & Johnson was the top AI innovator in the medical sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 57 AI related patents in the three months ending March. That was up from 14 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United States based Illumina Inc with 25 AI patent applications, Ireland based Medtronic Plc (25 applications), and Switzerland based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd (23 applications).

Johnson & Johnson has recently ramped up R&D in AI. It saw growth of 75.4% in related patent applications in the three months ending March compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the medical sector.