Germany dominates most innovative universities ranking

KU Leuven of Belgium took the top spot in the recently published Reuters Top 100: Europe’s Most Innovative Universities ranking for 2019, due to its high volume of influential patents and papers.

Now in its fourth year, the ranking rates universities based on the original research they produce, technology they create and their contribution to the world economy.

According to Reuters, patents filed by KU Leuven scientists are frequently cited by other researchers in their own patent filings.

Koenraad Debackere, executive director of KU Leuven research and development, paid “tribute to all KU Leuven researchers”, but also to KU Leuven’s industry partners for the achievement.

The rankings, compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, identified more than 600 global organisations that publish the most academic research and evaluated them on the basis of 10 different metrics. These included patent filings and research paper citations.

There was little fluctuation in the rankings compared to last year, with only one university entirely new to the list, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), coming 56th.

Bigger picture

The bigger picture showed German universities accounting for 23 places out of the top 100, more than any other country; next came the United Kingdom with 21, followed by France (18), the Netherlands (nine), Belgium (seven), Spain and Switzerland (both with five), Italy (four), Denmark (three), Norway (two) and Austria and Ireland with one each.

British institutions, still suffering from uncertainty over what form Brexit will take – and gloom over the continuing possibility of a hard Brexit – suffered slippage in their overall position.

Another point of interest is that universities within the EIT Health network accounted for 48% of the top 25 and took all five top spots.

EIT Health is a network of what it describes as “best-in-class innovators, working together to improve the lives of patients and citizens in Europe”. It operates as a consortium, working with academia, research and industry to drive innovation throughout the healthcare innovation landscape.

Alexander von Gabain, chairman of the Supervisory Board of EIT Health, said EIT Health was seeing “tangible and significant benefits” from the integration of all sides of the ‘knowledge triangle’ of interaction between research, education and industry.

He said: “Innovation flourishes only when the brightest minds from academia, industry and other relevant stakeholders form strong interactive networks that enable and facilitate the output of creative solutions addressing unmet healthcare challenges for the best of patients and citizens.”

Top 10 institutions

Germany’s performance was led by the University of Erlangen Nuremberg, which climbed three places to second spot, pushing Imperial College London (third), the University of Cambridge (fourth) and Switzerland’s EPFL (fifth) down a place each.

University College London climbed five places to break into the top 10 at sixth, and the University of Zurich jumped four places to ninth.

The other top 10 places were taken by Technical University of Munich (seventh), University of Manchester (eighth) and ETH Zurich (10th).

The 10 metrics used in the Reuters ranking include the body of research produced, patents filed and the overall success rates of patents granted, as well as a score reflecting the impact of institutions’ research on researchers across Europe and globally.

The 2019 ranking was published on 30 April.

This article was changed on 12 May. The location of KU Leuven has been corrected to Belgium. We apologise for the error.