Research and innovation in industrial automation in the retail sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of industrial automation related patent applications in the industry stood at 116 in the three months ending June – down from 157 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to industrial automation followed a different pattern to filings – growing from 106 in the three months ending June 2021 to 119 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.

Industrial automation 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.

Ocado Group Plc was the top industrial automation innovator in the retail sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United Kingdom, filed 29 industrial automation related patents in the three months ending June. That was up from 25 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United States based Inc with 28 industrial automation patent applications, the United States based NIKE Inc (20 applications), and the United States based Walmart Inc (15 applications).

Ocado Group Plc has recently ramped up R&D in industrial automation. It saw growth of 13.8% in related patent applications in the three months ending June compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the retail sector.