UW Remains Among Global Elite in Ranking of Innovative Universities

The University of Washington remains among the top 10 most innovative universities in the world and holds its position as the highest-ranked American public university, as measured by Reuters, but it fell a couple of spots from 2016 to seventh overall.

The important takeaway, for those who follow these rankings, is that the UW can continue counting itself among the global elite in the things that the Reuters study measures: patents and their impact in industry and academia, journal articles published, and research in collaboration with industry.

The UW, which attracts more federal research funding than any public university, had filed for 494 patents between 2010 and 2015, according to Clarivate Analytics, the data provider used by Reuters for the ranking. Of those patents, 31.8 percent were granted. The UW also received an above-average score for commercial impact as measured by how frequently its basic research was cited in patent filings by commercial entities.

As for the UW’s direct commercial activity, Reuters cited the launch of “a record 21 new startups” based on UW research during the 2016 fiscal year in its brief profile of the university. That said, the ranking does not actually evaluate startup creation or licensing deals—two measures that are benchmarks in other rankings.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at the UW startup celebration in 2014.

In years past, the UW has touted record levels of startup launches (and proffered dubious statistics about the associated job creation impact). But lately the administration’s messaging has shifted, with greater emphasis on partnerships like the one with China’s Tsinghua University and Microsoft, the Global Innovation Exchange, which opened its doors earlier this month, and a broader definition of technology transfer.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce. Photo via UW

“We talk about inclusive innovation,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce, in an interview with Xconomy at the GIX event Sept. 14. She cited work to address Seattle’s homelessness problem, innovative approaches to suicide prevention, and the UW’s broad population health initiative as examples.

“Innovation cuts across the university,” Cauce said. “I’m not trying to say it’s not about startups, but it’s not just about startups.”

Here are the world’s top 10 most innovative universities in 2017, as ranked by Reuters. The full top 100 listing can be found here.

  1. Stanford University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of Pennsylvania
  5. KU Leuven (Belgium)
  6. KAIST (South Korea)
  7. University of Washington
  8. University of Michigan System
  9. University of Texas System
  10. Vanderbilt University

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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