In this paper we use patent statistics in order to analyse the structure of the Spanish economy between 1759 and 1878. We depart from the hypothesis that inventive activity is demand driven. The results show how at the beginning of the Spanish industrialisation the majority of patents were concentrated in a few innovative sectors. Besides the textile and basic metal industries, it is possible to find some other sectors that have not usually been linked to technical change nor to productivity growth during that period. This is the case for the food, beverages and tobacco industries, machinery and equipment as well as chemical, construction and services sectors. A detailed analysis of patent records makes it possible to study the characteristics and peculiarities of the technical progress concerning each one of these sectors.