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With data from Clarivate Analytics, Reuters has once again highlighted innovative universities in their respective corners of the globe – in this case, revisiting Europe. As with last year’s rankings, the new listings are based on publication and patent figures supplied by Clarivate, specifying the schools that are not only prolific in research output but markedly accomplished at securing successful patents for their intellectual property. The new, complete listing of universities can be accessed here.

Europe’s Most Innovative Universities: The Top 10

Rank Name Location
1 KU Leuven Belgium
2 Imperial College London United Kingdom
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
4 Technical University of Munich Germany
5 Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne Switzerland
6 University of Erlangen Nuremberg Germany
7 Pierre and Marie Curie University  - Paris 6 France
8 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
9 University of Zurich Switzerland
10 University of Oxford United Kingdom
Source: Clarivate Analytics

To generate the rankings, analysts turned to Clarivate Analytics InCites, a resource within the Web of Science, designed to track and benchmark research output and impact deriving from individuals, institutions, nations, and regions. The first step was to identify Europe-based institutions that each produced a substantial body of research, as determined by the number of papers indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection between 2010 and 2015. (For institutions, as well as for countries, credit for a paper is awarded if at least one author based in the given nation or institution is listed on the paper; similarly, all listed countries, institutions, and authors are credited equally.)

With approximately 170 of Europe’s most prolific academic and government institutions identified by their indexed publications in the Web of Science, the next step was to ascertain the extent to which this output was successfully turned to patents. For this stage, and the final winnowing to the top 100, the analysts consulted two additional Clarivate resources: Derwent World Patents Index, and Derwent Innovations Index. As an initial benchmark, the analysis was confined to institutions that produced 50 or more patents.

Patents Perused

In addition to determining the number of patents associated with each institution, the analysis tracked the outcomes, as well as the global reach, of those patents. The "Patent Success" metric, for example, provides a ratio of patent applications to those that are actually granted. "Global Patents," meanwhile, conveys the ratio of patents that are filed with US, European, or Japanese patent offices. Because these international application processes are labor intensive and costly, the effort to pursue them suggests commercial ideas of potentially substantial value.

Analysts also examined the extent to which a university’s patents are cited by other patents—an indicator of influence in ongoing research and development. The impact of patents was further gauged by evaluating how often they were cited in research publications, demonstrating a clear link between a university’s basic research and its influence in applied technology.

Links outside academia were also explored by examining the universities' published papers, tallying reports that listed at least one author from a commercial or industrial firm. Further evidence of consistent influence beyond the campus boundary was elucidated by examining citations to these university/industry collaborations, gauging how many reports that cited these papers also featured collaborations between academic and industrial researchers.

Ultimately, based on performance on these various measures, analysts calculated a combined score for each university, and the ranking of the top 100 performers was determined.

KU Leuven, Again

As was the case in last year's ranking, KU Leuven displays the optimal mix of publications, patent impact, and industrial ties, earning the top spot – one of six Belgium-based universities to make the top 100. Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge also repeat their respective #2 and #3 placements from the previous listing.

In terms of national representation, Germany again takes top honors, with 23 universities (down one from last year's total of 24), followed by 17 each for the UK and France and 11 for Spain

To view the entire listing of the 100 European universities and read about specific research and innovations at selected schools, please go to the Reuters story.