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Earlier this year, Reuters, using data furnished by the Intellectual Property (IP) & Science business of Thomson Reuters, published a ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities.

Reuters now turns its focus to another region, with a ranking of the most innovative universities in Asia. In the listing, universities in China, Japan, and South Korea achieve notable prominence, although institutions in several other nations also register.

As with the European ranking, the Asia listings are powered by IP & Science resources, highlighting the universities whose basic research is being turned most widely and successfully to commercial application in the form of patents. The European and Asian rankings are offshoots of a 2015 Reuters presentation of the World’s Most Innovative Universities.

In all, these rankings reflect the current imperative for universities to go beyond their traditional role of education and to serve as engines of innovation in order to spark economic growth and improve society as a whole. In a time when many public universities are facing reduced funding, this is a tall order. Therefore, having a detailed picture of a university’s capacity and performance in innovation is crucial to building a successful research strategy.

For the new listing of Asia’s most innovative universities, the analysis relied on a range of IP & Science data sources: the Web of Science™ Core Collection and its coverage of roughly 15,000 scholarly journals and other sources; InCites™, an analytic and benchmarking tool for assessing research performance; and Derwent Innovations Index, which combines Derwent World Patents Index®, a compilation of data from 50 worldwide patent-issuing authorities, with Derwent Patent Citation Index, which measures the influence of patents by compiling how frequently they are cited by other patents.

As an initial threshold to ensure a robust collection of filed patents and patent-citation activity, the analysis was confined to Asia-based universities that were named as assignees on 50 or more world patents between 2009 and 2014.

Patents Perused

Having determined the number of patents associated with each university, analysts examined the success rate of those patents, as well as their global reach. The “Patent Success” measurement supplies a ratio of all patent applications to those that are actually granted. “Global Patents,” meanwhile, expresses the ratio of patents that are filed with US, European, or Japanese patent offices. Given the expensive, labor-intense process of international patent filing, a university’s pursuit of such applications conveys a belief in an invention carrying potentially substantial commercial value. Analysts also examined the impact of patents as gauged by the extent to which other patents cite them – a measure of influence in ongoing research and development.

Further analysis centered on the universities’ published papers. One measure determined how many times, on average, a university’s papers were cited by patents – evidence of a clear link between a university’s basic research and its influence in applied technology. Another metric examined how many of a university’s papers listed collaborating authors from an industrial or commercial firm – denoting a connection with the wider commercial world. As an additional gauge of influence beyond academia, analysts examined the citations to the universities’ papers, assessing the average number of those papers that were cited in publications listing industry-affiliated authors.

A final data point was the number of papers (articles and reviews) indexed in Web of Science during the six-year period under study. This measure is size dependent, clearly favoring larger institutions, although it is balanced by other of the measures discussed above, which are size independent, allowing fair comparisons between institutions large and small. The aim was to provide an equitable mix of these measures.

Ultimately, the various indicators were used to rank each of the universities, and a composite score was obtained by summing the ranks for each criterion for each institution. The resulting list features 75 universities.

KAIST on Top

Topping the list is South Korea’s KAIST (the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology), followed by the University of Tokyo. South Korea and Japan, in fact, each account for half the entries in the top 10 and for 20 each in the overall ranking. Breaking the two nations’ lock at the top of the list is the National University of Singapore, at #11. Tsinghua University is the highest placed among China-based universities, at #13.

Overall, the top 75 Asian universities ranked by IP & Science innovation indicators represent eight nations. China can claim the most (22), Japan and South Korea come second (both with 20), and Australia is next (6), while India, Malaysia, and Singapore are represented by two each, and New Zealand with one. China, Japan, and South Korea account for 83% of the 75 universities.

Access the complete Reuters listings and coverage of the most innovative Asian universities here.