Stanford University has once again distinguished itself with a mix of innovative research, patenting strength, and industry partnerships to emerge atop the latest Reuters ranking of “The Top 100 Most Innovative Universities.” For four consecutive years now, Clarivate Analytics has furnished the underlying data to Reuters for this global listing, and Stanford has led the field each time.
The complete new ranking of standout universities can be accessed here.
“For four consecutive years now, Clarivate Analytics has furnished the underlying data to Reuters for this global listing, and Stanford has led the field each time.”
This fourth annual listing, like its predecessors, is based on a series of specific metrics that assess the universities’ published research, as well as the quantity, impact and global reach of their patenting activity. For a select group of institutions, consistently high performance on these measures confers standing among the Top 100.
As with previous Reuters listings, including coverage of the most innovative universities in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, this latest installment draws upon on a range of Clarivate Analytics information tools. These include the Web of Science Core Collection and its coverage of more than 20,000 scholarly journals and other sources, along with Derwent World Patents Index, a compilation of data from 50 worldwide patent-issuing authorities, and Derwent Patents Citation Index, which measures the influence of patents by tracking how frequently other patents explicitly cite them. In this latest global listing, both the publication and patent output reflect the years 2011 to 2016, with citations recorded through March of 2018.
To narrow the analysis to institutions with substantial records in numbers of filed patents and patent-citation activity, an initial threshold was set for universities named as assignees on 70 or more world patents between 2011 and 2016.
After ascertaining the number of patents associated with each university, analysts tracked the outcomes, as well as the worldwide reach, of those patents. The “Patent Success” metric, for example, evaluates the percentage of the university’s patent applications that have been successfully granted. Another measure, “Global Patents,” specifies the percentage of patents the university has filed with US, European, or Japanese patent offices. Because the international patent-application process is expensive and time consuming to pursue, an institution’s willingness to do so indicates particular belief in the commercial viability and potential value of an invention.
To assess the overall influence of patents in ongoing research and development, the analysis also focused on the extent to which a university’s patents are cited by other patents (including measurements that reflect both a university’s total portfolio as well as individual patents). Each university’s research publications were also examined in this context, with evaluation of how many times, on average, a school’s research papers have been cited by patents. Such a pattern indicates a clear link between a university’s basic research and its influence in applied technology.
The universities’ published papers were also analyzed from another angle, to determine the percentage that listed at least one coauthor affiliated with a commercial or industrial firm, thereby demonstrating consistent partnerships outside academia. For an additional view of influence beyond the university walls, another measurement determined the average number of times an article was cited by papers that were written exclusively by industry-affiliated authors.
Ultimately, according to performance on these various measures, analysts calculated a combined score for each university, and the ranking of the top 100 performers was set.
Steadfast Top Trio
In the latest tabulation, first-place Stanford is not alone in its consistently strong performance. In fact, the top three finishers – Stanford, MIT at #2, and #3 Harvard – have maintained their respective placements for all four annual installments of the ranking.
…the top three finishers – Stanford, MIT at #2, and #3 Harvard – have maintained their respective placements for all four annual installments of the ranking.”
Along with the first three, five of last year’s top 10 institutions return to the upper rungs, with additions being Imperial College London (at #8) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#9). Maintaining its status from last year, Belgium’s KU Leuven, at #7, is the highest-placed non-US university. Also notable is a jump by the UK’s University of Manchester, up 27 spots from #80 to #53.
In terms of overall national representation in the ranking, summarized below, the United States, while retaining the top spot with 46 universities, is slightly down from last year’s tally of 49. Japan (from 8 universities last time to 9 in the current ranking) and Germany (from 7 to 9) both improve to share second place, while South Korea, France, and the UK match their respective counts from last year. China, meanwhile, saw its tally increase from 3 universities to 5.
Number of Universities
Table 1. Countries ranked by number of universities in the Top 100. Source: Clarivate Analytics Web of Science and Derwent Innovations Index