Patent applications filed by Irish companies and inventors grew by 21% – the highest growth rate in a decade, the European Patent Office's annual report shows. 

Last year, Irish applicants filed 801 patent applications with the EPO – a new record number – and up from the 660 patents filed in 2017. 

The European Patent Office said the increase was a testimony to Ireland's strength in innovation and research and development.

With 123 applications – a rise of 27% – medical technology saw the most European patent applications, accounting for 15% of all Irish patent applications filed with the EPO. 

The second most important technology field was computer technology with 88 applications, up 16% and accounting for 11% of Irish applications.

It was followed by pharmaceuticals with 80 applications, an increase of 51% and marking a 10% share of all Irish patents filed.

The strongest growth in Irish patents was recorded in transport, where many patents from the automotive sector are filed. 

The EPO said the number of patent applications more than quadrupled from six to 25 applications and in the "engines, pumps, turbines" field from seven to 28.

Today's report also noted that the East and Midlands led the Irish regional ranking with a share of 65% of all patent applications at the EPO from Ireland. 

These areas were ahead of Southern Ireland, which had a 20% share, and the Northern and Western regions with a 14% share. 

Meanwhile, German industrial group Siemens filed the most patent applications in Europe last year, pushing China's Huawei into second place, the European Patent Office said today. 

Siemens filed a total of 2,493 patent applications in 2018, the office said. 

That was ahead of the 2,485 applications filed by Chinese telecoms network supplier Huawei, which had registered the most of any company in 2017.