Cambridge leads UK's top 10 cities for new patent applications

01 November 2018 3 min. read
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A new survey has found Cambridge to be the UK's most innovative city, based on the number of patents published per 100,000 residents. According to the study, Coventry was actually the closest counterpart of the famous university city, with rival Oxford more than 200 patents behind Cambridge.

With nearly 14,000 patent applications filed in 2016, the UK is keen to retain its reputation as a hub of innovation, particularly with a challenging economic and social period fast approaching with the culmination of Brexit. To that end, the UK Government is similarly keen to foster creativity, with a growing emphasis on future inventions seeing the ushering in of incentives such as HMRC schemes, including Patent Box and the R&D Tax Credits regime. The bid to boost creativity seems to be paying dividends, as well, with a wide array of cities in the UK leading the charge.

Cambridge has been revealed as the most proportionally innovative city in the UK, according to new research by MPA Group, a consultancy which helps clients accelerate their innovation and business expansion. The study revealed that in Cambridge 315.7 patents were published per 100,000 people, coming in at almost three times as many as the second closest city. The city has a proud history of entrepreneurship, and the impressive haul of patents from 2017 builds on the city’s long history of invention, with Cambridge famed for being the birthplace of a cornucopia of innovations from the reflecting telescope to IVF, hovercrafts, iris recognition, as well as the cat-flap.

The 10 most innovative cities in the UK

Coventry, which is known as the home of holography (the science and practice of making holograms), as well as being the birthplace of the classic bicycle and London black cabs, followed with 108.9 patents per 100,000 residents, while Derby hosted 98. Derby’s most famous patents have come largely from the gaming industry, and the city saw the creation of video game icon Lara Croft in the 1990s.

Ranking outside the top three, Oxford, which famously hosts the oldest university in the English-speaking world, saw 78 patents per every 100,000 residents. The historical rival of Cambridge was where the medical uses of penicillin were first researched – though not discovered – an advance which over 51% of 1,000 UK-based respondents to RPA’s survey said they were most proud of. This was followed by the MRI Scanner, created in Aberdeen (43%), and the telephone, attributed to British physicist Robert Hooke (42%).

Commenting on the findings, Mike Price, Director at MPA Group, said, “The UK truly is a hub of innovation and it is reassuring to see that we as a nation still haven’t lost our entrepreneurial spirit. It’s amazing to see the vast amount of patent applications that have come out of Cambridge alone… However, it’s not just inventors that are leading the way for innovation, there are thousands of companies across the country investing into research and development. It’s great that this has been recognised by the government as being a vital part of business growth in the UK."