Research and innovation in machine learning 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 related patent applications in the industry stood at 135 in the three months ending March – up from 130 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to followed a similar pattern to filings – growing from 10 in the three months ending March 2021 to 21 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.

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 innovator in the medical sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 31 related patents in the three months ending March. That was up from 11 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United States based Illumina Inc with 18 patent applications, Ireland based Medtronic Plc (16 applications), and Switzerland based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd (15 applications).

Johnson & Johnson has recently ramped up R&D in . It saw growth of 64.5% 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.