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10th November 2022

Sustainability through a patent lens

Which patent innovations are helping to combat climate change?

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Which patent innovations are supporting the race to maintain sustainability?

Most Fortune 500 companies have pledged to reduce their impact on climate. Events like COP27 bring the net zero discussion at the forefront with the hope to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

The team at Cipher takes a closer look at the companies actively patenting in technologies that promote sustainability in their relevant sectors.

The Circular Economy: Sustainable Packaging

Improving the trajectory towards achieving circular economy targets requires a step-change in approach to sustainable packaging adoption across fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs).

To track this progress, we analysed patent data to see the innovation landscape across a subset of plastic packaging alternatives.

Sustainable packaging report

Coloured plastic bottles

Mintel Sustainability Barometer 2022

Mintel Sustainability Barometer


The Cipher platform was instrumental in providing data to support consumer trends giant Mintel in producing their Sustainability Barometer for 2022.

A quote from the report’s author:

“Cipher’s patent analysis plays a crucial role in revealing who’s innovating and where and how that corresponds to both the solutions valued by consumers and the framework of Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN”.

Cipher news item

What is Food Sustainability?

A sustainable food system tries to reduce its impact on the environment, represented by greenhouse gas emissions, the use of land and water resources, pollution, depletion of phosphorus, and the impact of chemical products such as herbicides and pesticides.

Changing consumer tastes drive sustainable food substitute inventions

Oatly made its market debut on the Nasdaq, in May 2021. Trading then at 60% over the IPO price puts a US$16 billion value on the company. So how does a decades old Swedish oat milk company transform itself into a high growth business and one of the hottest IPOs of 2021?

This report focuses on patent innovations in three key sustainable food substitute areas. Our strategic analysis uncovered the following:

  • Food Substitutes is a growing area of technology innovation as consumer demand increases for sustainable meat and dairy food substitutes
  • Continued fast pace inventions in dairy food substitutes such as Oatly leads the way with a successfully completed IPO on the Nasdaq in May
  • Investment into soy protein substitute innovation surpasses that of pea proteins with inventions in this area rapidly increasing

Want to find out more about how technology is positively impacting food substitutes?

View Report

Sustainability and detergents: environmentally friendly innovation

We reviewed the patent owners in the Sustainable Detergents space, identifying:

  • the new technologies designed to produce innovative formulations
  • the more sustainable products aimed at reducing the industry’s environmental impact

Sustainability and detergents report

Eco washing lotions on a table

What is Agriculture Sustainability?

Agriculture sustainability is the practice of minimising damages to the environment, reducing and recycling waste, while producing sufficient food to sustain humanity.

Can technology reduce waste and increase yield in Agriculture?

With the global population growing by 1.1% every year, finding a sustainable agricultural model that produces sufficient food whilst minimising waste is undoubtedly the biggest challenge. This report looks through a patent innovation lens at the technologies behind two key areas; wastewater reduction and reducing crop destruction, and uncovers the following :

  • China dominates the competitive landscape of both wastewater and crop destruction prevention technologies, despite its high levels of pollution
  • Universities in China, Korea and Japan monopolise the wastewater treatment technology landscape
  • Corporate organisations lead in their investment into crop destruction prevention technologies, yet fall behind in the wastewater treatment technology space

Find out more about the key players dominating this innovative landscape.

View Report

When will Electric Vehicles take over?

It’s becoming clear the future of the car is electric. Yet despite an almost continuous flow of media articles announcing new models and promises to phase out all new petrol vehicles, less than 1% of all cars on the road are purely electric. A lot of big players have large pending portfolios (suggesting future inventions rather than maintaining current inventions). Some of the globe’s largest economies have imposed a ban of new petrol/diesel car sales as soon as 2030.

Why then, in a world fully embracing technology in other aspects of life, has it taken more than two decades to reach just a 1% market share?

The answer lies in infrastructure. This report explores the pace and scale of innovation and looks at patent innovations by the key players. It covers the following:

  • Automotive players such as Toyota, Kia and Hyundai dominate the battery technology landscape, helping to ensure fast and reliable charging options
  • Induction charging technologies remain prohibitively expensive despite capability to change the way we charge
  • Company to watch, WiTricity, secure additional $52 million in funding as their Induction Car Charging technology is used by key suppliers in the automotive industry

Learn more about how EV technology will lead us to a more sustainable future.

View Report

Inventions & Innovators powering the Energy Transition

We put a lens on the invention and innovation being made in critical technologies powering the energy transition. In this report we take a look at next generation batteries exploring three specific alternatives to lithium-ion:

  • Solid-state batteries: Japan has the early mover advantage led by the likes of Toyota and Panasonic but keep an eye on pure plays like the VW-backed, NYSE listed Quantum Scape.
  • Lithium-sulfur batteries: Leading innovators include LG Chem, Bosch and Hyundai.
  • Lithium-oxygen batteries: Companies leading research & development in the space include Samsung Electronics, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda.

How else is investment into key technologies in this area driving our transition to cleaner energy?

View Report

Energy Transition – Oil & Gas Supermajors

Our updated report analyses the invention and innovation being made by the seven supermajors in the critical technologies powering the energy transition.

Our patent data analysis finds that the supermajors’ technology innovation is more evident in the Materials, Mechanical, and Sensors & Optics categories.

Energy transition report

Oil machinery setting

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