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 Innovation in Construction: Vacuum glazed spacers. Buy the report here.

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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, mullion-transom curtain walls are a disruptive technology that is in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Heat-insulated glazing panels, drainage gully grating, and acoustic ceiling panels are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are abrasion-resistant decorative flooring and road construction milling tool, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the construction industry

Vacuum glazed spacers are a key innovation area in construction

Vacuum glazed spacers refer to a type of thermal insulation technology used in double or triple-pane windows. These spacers are designed to create a vacuum or near-vacuum environment between the glass panes, which significantly reduces heat transfer and improves the window's energy efficiency.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of vacuum glazed spacers.

Key players in vacuum glazed spacers – 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 vacuum glazed spacers

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Panasonic 481 Unlock Company Profile
KGIC Merger 393 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 187 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Sheet Glass 120 Unlock Company Profile
AGC Glass Europe 119 Unlock Company Profile
VKR Holding 111 Unlock Company Profile
Luoyang Landglass Technology 110 Unlock Company Profile
LG 71 Unlock Company Profile
Cardinal Glass Industries 44 Unlock Company Profile
Dover 37 Unlock Company Profile
Eversealed Windows 32 Unlock Company Profile
Showa Denko 28 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 27 Unlock Company Profile
Yazaki 18 Unlock Company Profile
Prince International 18 Unlock Company Profile
Grenzebach Maschinenbau 17 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 15 Unlock Company Profile
Guardian Europe 11 Unlock Company Profile
Carl Zeiss Stiftung 7 Unlock Company Profile
V-glass 7 Unlock Company Profile
3G Capital 6 Unlock Company Profile
Qingdao Hengda Glass Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mechem Lab 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

The leading company in the space is Panasonic, which has recently filed a patent that allows for a vacuum space to be created with good stability, while making the spacer much less easily recognisable to the viewer. The invention includes two panels, a frame member formed in the shape of the panels, and at least one spacer provided in a vacuum space between the first panel and the second panel. At least one spacer also contains a polyimide, which has an absorption edge at which an absorption index decreases in an optical absorption spectrum ranging from an ultraviolet ray to visible radiation. Other leading companies in the space include KGIC, AGC, and Nippon Sheet Glass.

In terms of application diversity, the leading companies are Hitachi, Prince International, and Showa Denko. In terms of geographic reach, the leading companies include V-glass, Luoyang Landglass Technology, and Prince International.

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

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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.