4.2.2. Technological specialisation

In patents, the Basque Country is particularly specialised in mechanical engineering, and the largest sub-speciality is in Electronic Engineering

From Orkestra’s exhaustive exploitation of the OECD qREGPAT database (see Table 11), it may be deduced that the Basque Country is particularly specialised in mechanical engineering and other industries (especially the areas of furniture and civil engineering), and to a rather lesser extent, in chemicals. Its greatest underspecialisation is in electronic engineering. This weakness in patents linked to ICT, which contrasts somewhat with the slight specialisation in mathematics and computer science publications, is cause for concern, given the importance which Industry 4.0 will take on in the future to foster advanced manufacturing and opportunity niches such as the creative industries.

From the perspective of trends, the underspecialisation in electronic engineering and instruments has lessened slightly, and progress has been made in patents linked to the chemicals industry (particularly for pharmaceutical products), making it possible for the Basque Country to move from a slight underspecialisation to a slight specialisation. On the other side of the balance sheet is the loss of specialisation in mechanical engineering and especially, other industries.

Tabla 11. PCT patents by technological field and industry
PCT patents by technological field and industry
Source: OECD REGPAT Database. Compiled by authors.

As regards the areas of the economy to which the patents apply, more than 90% of PCT patents primarily apply to the manufacturing industry. Due to their higher specialisation rate and sufficiently broad volume of patents, metal-related industries, especially the machinery and the metalworking and metal products industries, are noteworthy. The other manufactured goods industry is also showing some strength. The greatest underspecialisation is found in electrical equipment and IT services, which may be an obstacle to developing the Industry 4.0 strategy.

From the perspective of trends, in the most recent period, the Basque Country has slightly reduced its specialisation in the metals industries, with the share held by the chemical complex increasing (possibly as a result of a focus on the biosciences). As regards the areas of underspecialisation, the trend has been conflicting: it has not been possible to reduce the underspecialisation in electrical equipment, which is the area with the most industrial component, but IT services has made some progress.

  1. Patent Cooperation Treaty