The world is increasingly connected, and semiconductors are essential to enabling this connectivity. Specialists project the semiconductor market to become a trillion-dollar industry by 2030 (McKinsey & Co., 2022).
The term “semiconductors” covers a large amount of embedded technology that is advancing rapidly in its development. Semiconductor companies are highly innovative and rely on innovation to maintain their market share and expansion objectives.
An indicator of innovation in this sector is, of course, patents. Of the 10 largest semiconductor companies, according to a ranking published by Investopedia in April 2023, five companies filed between 2,000 to 5,000 patent families between 2019 and 2022 (Patentscope search, August 2023). Altogether, the top 10 companies filed almost 20,000 patent families in that period.
Moreover, the patent tendencies of technologies related to this business are used as an indicator of the pace of innovation at the invention stage. This also includes 5G technologies, which are essential for semiconductors. In that context, the number of declared 5G patent families filed per year jumped from slightly above 2,000 in 2017 to almost 15,000 in 2020, and this level was maintained until 2022 (Landscape Analysis of Declared 5G Patent Families provided by NGB, 2022).
5G has opened up a range of possibilities, empowering the implementation of Industry 4.0, directly contributing to the growth of the semiconductor industry, wherein 70% of the predicted trillion-dollar value will likely be driven by just three industries: automotive, computation and data storage, and wireless.
What about Brazil?
SEP (Standard-Essential Patents) 5G patents protect standardized technologies in the 5th generation mobile network and are considered crucial to the expansion of connectivity. The Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BPTO) released a study in July 2023, showing that 7,593 SEP patent families related to 5G technology were filed in Brazil, representing 11% of the world’s total 5G patent applications.
The Brazilian Industry 4.0 market reached US$ 1.77 billion in 2022 and may grow to US$ 5.62 billion by 2028 (Portal da Industria, 2023). Since 2020, The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) provides lines of credit specific to Industry 4.0 initiatives to contract technological services, optimize production, enable advanced manufacturing projects, implement smart city solutions, acquire machines and equipment with 4.0 technology, and Internet of Things (IoT) services. In addition, major players in the semiconductor sector are investing in Brazil.
Qualcomm introduced its first IoT center in Brazil in partnership with an Engineering School from São Paulo (Sorocaba College of Engineering – Facens) and a Brazilian non-governmental organization focused on innovation based on Telecommunications Technologies (Center for Research and Development in Telecommunications – CPqD). According to the vice president of Qualcomm in Latin America, Rafael Steinhauser, in an interview with the Mobiletime website, “This IoT Reference Center has two developments: Smart Cities and, within that, it has a specific theme: Computational Vision. We want to show the 5,000 cities in Brazil what a smart city is, in a way that facilitates the adoption of IoT by city halls”.
In the automotive sector, Brazil was ranked sixth among the countries with the highest number of vehicles sold in 2022, and the automobile industry is also investing in connectivity in Brazil. The automaker leader in cars with connectivity in Brazil has 85% of its vehicles with a connectivity system and expects to increase sales of these by 100% in 2023 in relation to 2022. Moreover, the Brazilian Federal Government released a program (“Programa Rota 2030”) for the development of the automotive sector in the country and, together with a nonprofit non-governmental organization (UFMG Support Foundation – Fundep) intends to invest R$ 200 million until 2027 to improve vehicular connectivity in cars towards the mobility of the future.
Thus, Brazil is following the overall trend in semiconductors: Industry 4.0 should reach more than triple its market value in Brazil within five years, and the importance and investments that this sector is gaining in a national context is evident from both government and non-governmental initiatives. As semiconductors are more and more present in our lives, connectivity is bringing a range of benefits, opportunities and new possibilities in all areas of society, and Brazil will not be left behind in this transformation.
Article published on IPWatchdog.