The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 248,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in Construction: Barrier-coated composite aerofoils.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the construction industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the construction industry using innovation intensity models built on over 179,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, smart toilets and green roofing are the disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. HAWT wind turbines, environmental barrier coatings, and vacuum-insulated glazing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are hybrid electric heavy machinery and energy-efficient HVAC system, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Barrier-coated composite aerofoils is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Aerofoils made from composite materials are designed to control airflow, enabling high speeds, with a core of a metal or ceramic material enveloped by a plastic aerofoil portion. Barrier coatings provide a barrier to prevent contact with corrosive elements.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of barrier-coated composite aerofoils.

Key players in barrier-coated composite aerofoils – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to barrier-coated composite aerofoils

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
General Electric 234 Unlock company profile
Safran 77 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 36 Unlock company profile
IHI 33 Unlock company profile
Aviva 26 Unlock company profile
JGC Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 17 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 16 Unlock company profile
General Motors 15 Unlock company profile
APPLIED THIN FILMS 9 Unlock company profile
Hercules 8 Unlock company profile
MTU Aero Engines 7 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

General Electric, via GE Aviation, which is a provider of commercial and military jet engines and components, is among the leading filers of patents for barrier-coated composite aerofoils, with the company having subsidiaries such as Airfoil Technologies International-Singapore. Other leading filers include French aircraft equipment manufacturer Safran, with Safran Cabin being a manufacturer of aerospace composite materials and structures for commercial and military platforms, as well as Rolls-Royce, which started manufacturing the world’s largest fan blades made of composite materials in 2020.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries leads the pack. By means of geographic reach, IHI, Japan's leading maker of jet engines, held the top position, followed by General Motors.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research reports on Construction.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.