The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017

So what are the world's most innovative universities in 2017? A Reuters report appears to have answered this question for us.
Christopher McFadden
Memorial Hall, Harvard UniversityKenneth C. Zirkel/Wikimedia Commons

So what the world's most innovative universities we hear you ask? Well, luckily for you Reuters released a report on just that subject last month. Their report was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics and it is based on proprietary data and analysis from patent filing and research papers.

Most on the list probably won't be a surprise but it's worth taking a look. 

Reuters based their ranking on those institutions who, in their opinion, are doing the most to advance science. They also included the research and development of new technologies and those that power new markets and industries.

Nine of the top ten hasn't changed since last year and most of them are from the U.S. or are European.

Ranking method

Clarivate Analytics began by identifying over 600 global institutions that regularly publish academic research. These included educational institutions, not for profit charities and government-funded laboratories. 

Each candidate then needed to "run the gauntlet" through ten different metrics that included:-

1. Academic papers to show basic research

2. Patent filings that show the institution has the ability to apply research and commercialize it.

3. The performance of the institution relative to others.


Their methodology for ranking has actually changed since last year's list. It now allows for individual member institutions of larger universities to be ranked individually rather than as the parent organization.

This ranking method does mean that it may not take into account the complete picture of whether they have particularly innovative departments relative to others. The ranking system only considers the innovation on an institutional level and may miss these "little gems" of innovation. In effect, their success is "diluted" by less innovative departments as a whole.

We'll focus on the top ten here but you can see if your University "cuts the mustard". You can view the full report here

1. Stanford University, United States of America

Well, blow us over with a feather, what a shocker eh? For the third year in a row, Stanford has been ranked the most innovative University in the world. Well according to Reuters that is. 

Their strategic location in the heart of California's Silicon Valley might have something to do with their performance in this area. Stanford Alumni have gone on to form tech giants the likes of Google, Intel and HP.

Stanford today consistently delivers original research and technology and is a literal powerhouse of innovation. 

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The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
Clock Tower at Stanford University. Source: Oleg Alexandrov/Wikimedia Commons

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America

MIT comes in at a close second place. Stanford, MIT and Harvard have held the top three rankings for the last three years. Again this is probably no surprise to any of our readers. MIT is one of the U.S.'s and, in fact, the world's most prestigious and elite institutions and also happen to be some of the largest.

This university is undeniably one of the world's most innovative universities.

The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
One of the first buildings at MIT. Source: MIT

3. Harvard University, United States of America

Yep, Harvard comes in a close third place, again. Normally third place would be considered the "second loser" but considering we are talking about the top 100 out of hundreds, if not thousands of competitors they can't really complain. 

The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
Source: Havard University Website/Wikimedia Commons

4. University of Pennsylvania, United States of America

The University of Pennsylvania seems to have had a rather good 2017. Its labors managed to pull it up the ranks by no less than four places from 8th in 2016. This private Ivy League University has recently made breakthroughs in single-dose Zika virus vaccines amongst other innovations.

5. KU Leuven, Belgium

KU Leuven is nearly 600 years old but don't let its age fool you. It maintains one of the largest, independent, research and developments organizations in the world. 

6. KAIST, South Korea

OK, this one might be a surprise to some, well most of our readers. But we shouldn't make assumptions. KAIST, formerly know as Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology comes in 6th on the 2017 list of most innovative universities. 

KAIST focusses on providing lessons in English and was established in 1971 by the South Korean government. It prides itself on its performance and modeled itself on engineering schools in the U.S. It was initially funded by a multi-million dollar loan from the U.S. Agency for International development and has since gone from strength to strength.

7.  University of Washington, United States of America

Established in 1861, the University of Washington is actually a public research university spread over three campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell. Amongst their enormous body of work to date, they have recently made advances in supercapacitors as well as various medical advances.

8. University of Michigan System,  United States of America

The University of Michigan System holds a place in the top ten for the third year in a row. This is mainly due to its links with corporate partners and a lot of high-level research funded by industry.

Michigan Uni is around 200 years old and began as a single building in Detroit. It is now a research superpower.

The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
Admin building of the University of Washington. Source: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

9. University of Texas System, United States of America

UT system happens to be spread across 14 schools across the State of Texas. Between 2010 and 2015, UT filed 974 patents with 32.3% being granted. UT impressive alumni include the likes of Dell CEO Michael Dell and James Truchard the CEO fo National Instruments.

The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
Engineering and Computer Sciences Complex at the University of Texas. Source: Stan9999/Wikimedia Commons

10. Vanderbilt University, United States of America

Last on our list of world's most innovative universities is Vanderbilt. Located in Nashville, Tenessee, Vanderbilt Uni filed 218 patents between 2010 and 2015. Of these, just over 40%  were granted. Alumni include Muhammad Yunus and author and philanthropist James Patterson.

The World's 10 Most Innovative Universities in 2017
Vanderbilt University Campus. Source: Stablenode/Wikimedia Commons

So there you go, ten of the top 100 world's most innovative universities. Did any of the entries surprise you? Let us know below in the comments.

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