Measuring innovation in Asia Pacific universities

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

– Steve Jobs


On today’s global stage, being innovative is seen as a driver of knowledge creation as well as economic and social impact. As such, measuring a university’s innovation is a useful way of determining the institution’s potential impact on the economy and society. To that end, and for the third consecutive year, Reuters is featuring a ranking of the top 75 most innovative Asia Pacific universities. Powered by data from Clarivate Analytics, the Reuters ranking is the only one to exclusively measure outputs that reflect innovation.


Data Sources and Metrics

Powered by data from Clarivate Analytics, the Reuters ranking is the only one to exclusively measure outputs that reflect innovation.”

To evaluate proxies for innovation, analysis leveraged Clarivate proprietary data sources, including the Web of Science Core Collection and Derwent World Patent Index, to measure knowledge creation and technology protection, respectively.
Due to the large number of universities in the Asia Pacific region, the analysis was limited to Asia-based universities named as assignees on 50 or more world patents between 2011 and 2016.

As an initial measure of knowledge creation, analysts determined the number of papers published by each university from 2011 to 2016 and indexed in the Web of Science. The percentage of papers published in collaboration with industry served as a measure of the potential economic impact of a university’s work. Two additional metrics helped gauge the value of a university’s research in terms of commercial application: the frequency with which the university’s papers were cited by patents, and the frequency with which the university’s papers were cited by industry – that is, by papers listing industry-affiliated authors.

Patents, which are used to protect inventions, are a key component of the Reuters ranking. The volume of patent applications registered with WIPO, for example, is an indicator of research output that has future commercial value. Patent success – the ratio of granted patents to applications – measures the university’s achievement in filing patents that are ultimately accepted.

Another measure evaluates the international reach of a university’s patents – the percentage filed with the US, European and Japan patent offices, indicating the extent of protection that the invention is believed to warrant. Patents filed across multiple locations are understood as significant inventions that merit serious investment in protection. Last, the quality of a university’s patent portfolio is assessed by the number times those patents have been cited by other patents.

Note that the Clarivate measurements combine size-dependent metrics, which give larger universities an advantage (e.g., number of Web of Science-indexed papers), and size-independent metrics. This combination was used to evaluate large and small universities as fairly as possible.


KAIST takes the crown for the third consecutive year; mainland Chinese universities continue to compete strongly

For the third consecutive year, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) has maintained the top position. Improved performance by the University of Tokyo and Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) saw Seoul University squeezed out from the top 3 into the 4th position.

With the exception of National University of Singapore edging out Hanyang University to occupy the 10th position, the rest of the top 10 universities are unchanged from last year.

In terms of country representation in the top 10, South Korea and Japan each have four institutions, while PR China and Singapore both have one.

Three universities in mainland China – Xiamen University, Shandong University, and China University of Mining & Technology – entered the top 75 this year, showing the overall trend of mainland Chinese universities’ progress in innovation. Notably, China University of Mining & Technology appeared at a credible rank of 56 in this year’s listings.

The table below displays regional representation across the top 75 as compared to last year:


Region 2018 2017 Change
China Mainland 24 21 +3
Hong Kong 3 4 -1
South Korea 20 22 -2
Japan 19 19 0
Australia 5 5 0
Singapore 2 2 0
India 1 1 0
New Zealand 1 1 0


The full rankings can be accessed here.

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