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 70 in the three months ending April – down from 170 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to industrial automation followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 102 in the three months ending April 2021 to 82 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.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector. Inc was the top industrial automation innovator in the retail sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 25 industrial automation related patents in the three months ending April. That was down from 42 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the United Kingdom based Ocado Group Plc with 16 industrial automation patent applications, the United States based NIKE Inc (12 applications), and the United States based Walmart Inc (9 applications).