The UPC, leader in patent filing

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The UPC filed 15 patent applications in 2020

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The researcher Cristina Canal has patented a biomaterial for bone cancer therapy.

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The researchers Meritxell Vilaseca and Fernando Díaz from the Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development (CD6)

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The researcher Oriol Gomis (picture), Marc Cheah, Eduard Prieto and Jie Song have developed software to measure the power of converters.

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The researcher Marc Cheah and the doctoral student Jie Song

The UPC is the leading Spanish university in filing patent applications, according to data from the European Patent Office.

Aug 30, 2021

The European Patent Office (EPO) has published a report that highlights that academic institutions continue to make a significant contribution to European patent applications: four of the top ten applicants are scientific or research organisations. The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) is the leader among Spanish universities, with 15 patent applications filed in 2020, and is ranked 6th in Spain, behind the Spanish National Research Council (72 applications), Amadeus (60), Esteve Pharmaceuticals (17), the Tecnalia Research & Innovation Foundation (17) and Telefónica (17). The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), a research institute affiliated to the UPC, filed 11 patent applications and is ranked 9th in this ranking.

In 2020, the UPC filed more patent applications than in the previous year, namely 38 industrial property titles (23 in 2019): 7 Spanish priority patents, 18 European priority patents, 8 international patents and 5 Spanish utility models. The University has also signed 11 patent co-ownership agreements and 11 licensing agreements with third-parties and spin-offs.

Catalonia, the Spanish region with the most patents
Catalonia is the leading Spanish region in filing patents, with a total of 559 patent applications, which accounts for 31.2% (34.2% in 2019) of Spanish patent applications filed with the EPO in 2020. Catalonia is followed by the Community of Madrid (21.1%) and the Basque Country (11.9%, compared to 10.3% in 2019). In the city ranking, Barcelona is ranked 1st, with 496 patent applications, followed by Madrid (378 applications).

UPC innovation
The technology resulting from the UPC’s research activity covers a wide range of areas, which are related to emerging areas and have applications in ICT, electronics, healthcare, energy and sustainability, chemistry, construction, automotive, industrial technologies, transportation and logistics and agri-food technologies, among others. Some of the patents recently filed by the University are:

Biomaterial for bone cancer therapy: the biomaterial developed by the researcher Cristina Canal, who leads the Plasmas for Biomedical Applications Laboratory of the Biomaterials, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering Group (BBT), is a composite material containing reactive species generated by low-temperature atmospheric-pressure plasma. This technology allows cancer cells to be removed selectively and the material is reabsorbed by the body, allowing bone regeneration.

Low-temperature plasmas interact with eukaryotic cells through complex biochemical procedures without harming the surrounding tissues. 

Cristina Canal, a researcher at the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB), has developed the study that has resulted in the patent supported by an ERC Starting Grant.

Smart system for integrated pest management using photonics: The technology developed by the researcher Meritxell Vilaseca, from the Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development (CD6), in collaboration with the company Comercial Química Massó SA, allows geolocated monitoring of the spread of pests that attack fruit and vegetable crops, thus improving integrated control. It is based on photonic tools and automated data processing and allows to record pest population data throughout the region. This provides the farmer with clear, real-time information about the actions that they need to take to control pests and minimise their impact.

This new system improves decision-making and makes it possible for farmers to implement more environmentally friendly strategies, because it helps to optimise how much pesticides are applied, when and where. In addition, it promotes using alternative chemical-free products (biological and biotechnological control), as established by the new EU regulations.

Software to efficiently measure the power of converters: the researchers Oriol Gomis, Marc Cheah, Eduard Prieto and the doctoral student Jie Song, from the Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA), have developed software to obtain an equivalent model of the electrical grid to accurately dimension the protection elements considering the impact of converters. The idea for the patent occurred to the team of researchers upon verifying that the incorporation of renewable energies and power electronics elements has increased the complexity of operating the electrical grid. Today, in compliance with a set of standards, customers (a company, for example) install protection elements in case there is a power outage.

The patent developed by the researchers, which has been validated with several simulation models, offers an alternative to this traditional calculation system, providing more accurate information that considers the elements of power electronics.

System to adjust the oxygen dose in patients with respiratory failure: the researcher Xavier Masip, who leads the UPC’s Advanced Network Architectures Lab (CRAAX), and researchers from the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona have patented an algorithmic methodology for predicting and adjusting the oxygen dose required by patients with respiratory failure who need oxygen concentrators—portable mechanical ventilators. The innovation lies in the system’s capacity to predict and dynamically adjust the amount of oxygen at all times, as opposed to current equipment supplying a steady amount of oxygen. With this improvement, patients no longer have a feeling of suffocation, since they receive the proper amount all the time. Although assisted breathing equipment at hospitals work similarly, it is the first time that this kind of technology has been applied to portable equipment.

Additionally, the researcher Tzanko Tzanov and his team at the Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology Group (GBMI) have patented three of the innovations developed within the framework of their research activity:

  • Biodegradable adhesive for construction insulation and soundproofing materials: it is a biodegradable adhesive capable of bonding natural and synthetic materials. The adhesive is made of the remains of lignin, a by-product of the paper industry and biorefineries. Thus, a waste product is converted into a sustainable adhesive that does not contain organic solvents, which are commonly used. The adhesive is mainly conceived for the construction sector, for insulation and soundproofing materials.
  • Antibacterial hydrogel to heal chronic wounds: this topical hydrogel acts locally thanks to the interaction between hyaluronic acid and silver-lignin (biopolymer from plants) nanoparticles. Its strong antimicrobial and antioxidant effect enhances wound healing. In addition, the material developed can control several enzymes that cause chronic wounds by regulating homeostasis and promoting healing.
  • Paper microfluidic device for rapid detection of bacterial infection in wounds: this technology is protected by a patent co-owned with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and it consists of a disposable paper-based device that, using wound exudate samples, indicates a bacterial infection by simply changing colour. While the analysis of exudates in a laboratory can take a few days, this device allows patients to detect the presence of infection in a few minutes and, if the result is positive, act fast to stop the infection.

UPC patents available for commercial exploitation can be consulted on the Technological offer portal.