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Research and innovation in machine learning in the medical sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of related patent applications in the industry stood at 78 in the three months ending December – down from 156 over the same period in 2020.

Figures for patent grants related to followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 27 in the three months ending December 2020 to 14 in the same period in 2021.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, which tracks 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.

Machine learning 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.

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By GlobalData

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd was the top innovator in the medical sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in Switzerland, filed 33 related patents in the three months ending December. That was down from 51 over the same period in 2020.

It was followed by the United States based Johnson & Johnson with 30 patent applications, the United Kingdom based Smith & Nephew Plc (12 applications), and Ireland based Medtronic Plc (11 applications).

Johnson & Johnson has recently ramped up R&D in . It saw growth of 30% in related patent applications in the three months ending December compared to the same period in 2020 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the medical sector.