Emerging Technologies

The 26 most innovative universities in Europe

Lucy England
Writer, Business Insider
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Universities are hubs of innovation, but the concept of innovation itself is difficult to measure empirically.

Thomson Reuters’ ranking of the most innovative universities in the world, attempts to do just that, however.

The ranking was created from these variables: the number of patents filed by each university between 2008 and 2013, how many of those were granted (as a percentage) and the commercial impact the institution’s research has had.

Of the 100 ranked by Reuters, 26 of those are from Europe. You can check out the full ranking of the top 100 most innovative universities in the world and a full explanation of its methodology at Reuters.

26. The University of Montpellier, France.

The University of Montpellier has close ties to the technology industry in southeastern France, especially the biomedical sector.French fashion designer Christian Lacroix also studied here.

Total patents filed: 118

Patents granted: 60.2%

Commercial impact score: 52.2

25. University of Aix-Marseille, France.

The University of Aix-Marseille operates 131 research facilities, and has active partnerships with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). IMF managing director Christine Lagarde studied here.

Total patents filed: 127

Patents granted: 55.1%

Commercial impact score: 42.1

24. Free University of Berlin, Germany.

The Free University of Berlin was established in West Berlin in response to the Soviet limitation of academic freedom at other institutions in Berlin in 1948.

Total patents filed: 165

Patents granted: 29.7%

Commercial impact score: 57.9

23. University of Manchester, England.

Skyscanner CEO Gareth Williams studied mathematics and computing and met the site’s cofounders at Manchester University.

Total patents filed: 109

Patents granted: 29.4%

Commercial impact score: 36.8

22. Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Erasmus MC, EUR’s medical center, is the largest health sciences research institute in the Netherlands.

Total patents filed: 102

Patents granted: 19.6%

Commercial impact score: 51.5

21. University of Claude Bernard, part of the University of Lyon, France.

One of three public universities that comprise the University of Lyon, UCBL is named after the French physiologist Claude Bernard.

Total patents filed: 230

Patents granted: 69.9%

Commercial impact score: 50.4

20. University of Strasbourg, Alsace, France.

The University of Strasbourg counts European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as an alumni.

Total patents filed: 166

Patents granted: 48.8%

Commercial impact score: 74.4

19. Joseph Fourier University, France.

JFU commercializes on-campus discoveries via Floralis, a private subsidiary that has launched 35 startups in 15 years. The university is tied with Korea University at number 84 on the Reuters top 100.

Total patents filed: 162

Patents granted: 65.4%

Commercial impact score: 46.1

18. University of Paris Descartes, France.

The University of Paris Descartes is the only university in the Ile-de-France region (which surrounds Paris) to offer students medical, pharmaceutical and ontological studies.

Total patents filed: 162

Patents granted: 65.4%

Commercial impact score: 46.1

17. University of Paris Sud

University of Paris Sud researchers have been awarded two Nobel Prizes in physics and four Fields Medals since 1991.

Total patents filed: 130

Patents granted: 60.8%

Commercial impact score: 46.6

16. University of Freiburg

University of Freiburg alumni Paul Ehrlich and Hans Adolf Krebs won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1909 and 1953, respectively.

Total patents filed: 177

Patents granted: 40.2%

Commercial impact score: 56.5

15. Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

Delft students and faculty have designed a their own humanoid robot and solar-powered race car. The university’s high-tech entrepreneurs center, YES!Delft, helped launch 150 startup businesses since it was founded in 2015.

Total patents filed: 86

Patents granted: 51.2%

Commercial impact score: 20.6

14. University of London, England.

According to Reuters research, the University of London’s Institure of Cancer Research has discovered 18 cancer drug candidates and moved eight new drugs into clinical trials since 2005.

Total patents filed: 330

Patents granted: 33%

Commercial impact score: 43.4

13. Ghent University, Belgium

Ghent University’s campus contains two science parks that bring university research labs and private companies together to collaborate.

Total patents filed: 218

Patents granted: 38.1%

Commercial impact score: 44.9

12. Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris

Also known as University of Paris VI, UPMC is the largest scientific and medical complex in France.

Total patents filed: 244

Patents granted: 58.6%

Commercial impact score: 43.9

11. University of Munich

University of Munich is also know as the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, or LMU. Biochemist Christian Haass received the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research for his work fighting Alzheimer’s disease.

Total patents filed: 120

Patents granted: 38.3%

Commercial impact score: 56.7

10. University of Zurich

The University of Zurich is the largest university in Switzerland, and is currently working to get customizable skin grafts to market and developing drones with autonomous flight capabilities

Total patents filed: 155

Patents granted: 36.1%

Commercial impact score: 53.8

9. University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Also known as Friedrich-Alexander University, or FAU, the university specialises in engineering, medicine and science. It also partners with corporations, like Procter & Gamble, which is working on a project with the school to develop eco-friendly disposable diapers.

Total patents filed: 155

Patents granted: 36.1%

Commercial impact score: 53.8

8. Technical University of Munich

TUM focuses on engineering, natural and life sciences, medicine, management, and educational science, with a special focus on entrpreneurship. Seventeen of its staff and student alumni have been awarded the Leibniz Prize, Germany’s highest distinction presented to research scientists.

Total patents filed: 149

Patents granted: 34.2%

Commercial impact score: 61.3

7. Technical University of Denmark

DTU researchers registered 152 inventions in 2014, spun off 51 ventures, and collaborated with industry on 1,249 projects. Albert Einstein studied here.

Total patents filed: 240

Patents granted: 40%

Commercial impact score: 49.5

6. Oxford University

Google Ventures has invested in an accelerator based on the Oxford University campus, and acquired two AI startups spun out from the University, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory, through Deepmind.

Total patents filed: 391

Patents granted: 24.6%

Commercial impact score: 50.4

5. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland.

Also known as ETH Zurich, the university focuses on information processing, new materials, and health sciences and technology. It operates the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center in partnership with IBM Research. Albert Einstein studied here.

Total patents filed: 257

Patents granted: 32.7%

Commercial impact score: 58.3

4. Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

EPFL is one of two Swiss institutes of technology. It was the birthplace of the Archimedean oath, an ethical code of practice for engineers and technicians, similar to the Hippocratic oath used by medics. It now houses a BlueGene/Q supercomputer that is being used to simulate a virtual brain.

Total patents filed: 168

Patents granted: 39.3%

Commercial impact score: 89.3

3. University of Cambridge

The cluster of hardware and software companies based in Cambridge, dubbed “Silicon Fen,” owes its success to the science and engineering talent coming out of the university. Alan Turing studied here.

Total patents filed: 232

Patents granted: 33.6%

Commercial impact score: 54.5

2. KU Leuven, Belgium

KU Leuven aims to stay 3 to 10 years ahead of industrial needs in fields including microelectronics, nanotechnology, and information and communications systems.

Total patents filed: 299

Patents granted: 39.8%

Commercial impact score: 49

1. Imperial College London

Imperial recently raised a £200 million to create two new research hubs: the Translation and Innovation Hub, scheduled to open in 2016, which will house technology partners and new startups, and the interconnected Molecular Science Research Hub, due for completion by 2017.

Sir Alexander Fleming, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945 for co-discovering penicillin. Science fiction author H.G Wells also studied here.

Total patents filed: 301

Patents granted: 26.2%

Commercial impact score: 58.8

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Lucy covers technology at Business Insider UK, based in London.

Image: People walk into the quadrant of Clare College at Cambridge University. REUTERS/Paul Hackett.

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