Everything is made up

Inventions: "Everything is never invented"

Vienna. Who doesn't know the annoying problem with city maps. Once opened, it takes maximum concentration and a certain logical understanding to fold it back into its original shape to the size of a handbag. But thank god it now exists, the invention of the crumple - and even waterproof - city map that can be easily stuffed into your pants without tearing. Another achievement that nobody thought we needed before it was invented. Despite countless things that more or less dominate our everyday life, the inventive spirit does not stop.

"Everything is never invented," says Walter Wagner, President of the Austrian Association of Innovators, Patent Holders and Inventors (Opev). Alone - marketing your idea is getting more and more difficult. 95 percent of the 1800 or so inventions that are patented annually by the Austrian Patent Office flop economically, according to Wagner. Around twice as many people apply for a patent for their invention, but half do not receive any because the idea has already been published by someone else or does not involve any inventive step.

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"An invention alone is by no means synonymous with innovation," says Wagner. The figures of the Global Innovation Index also show that Austria is increasingly losing its innovative strength. From year to year we slip one place back. Austria currently ranks 23rd in the list that compares the innovation performance of 142 countries. Switzerland ranks first.

"That's because there are so many pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland - the most avid patent applicants," says Wagner. And what invention is there in Austria? According to the Austrian Patent Office, the majority comes from companies. Private individuals only make up a fraction. The Styrian company AVL has been granted the most patents in recent years, it develops drive systems with combustion engines and researches measurement and testing technology.

The EU is working on a unitary patent

"Austria's inventions have to be prepared more professionally in order to be able to market them better," says Wagner. A major shortcoming is the type of funding from the state. Granted, there is funding, but it doesn't help if, for example, basic research is advanced - but not a derivable, economically marketable product.