This mini-review provides a critical analysis of recent patents published in the fields of catalysis, more specifically in the context of improving process efficiency. The selectivity, yield and activity of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts in relation to both batch and flow processes are discussed. Major breakthroughs in the development of heterogeneous catalysts are covered with a particular emphasis on the use of microencapsulating technologies in C-C bond- forming and hydrogenation reactions. Special attention is given to the use of supercritical CO2 as a green solvent. Finally, as many catalytic reactions and processes will benefit from the highly ‘tuneable’ and functional nature of macromolecular structures, recent progress in synthetic polymer chemistry is discussed, especially in relation to emerging nanoscale polymeric catalysts, and highly porous frameworks with surface areas greater than 5000 m2 g-1.