Which universities are more innovative? Re-examination of Reuters’ the Most Innovative University Rankings

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USLU B., Çalıkoğlu A.

The 3rd International Higher Education Studies Conference - IHEC 2018, Kayseri, Turkey, 11 - 13 November 2018

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Kayseri
  • Country: Turkey
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


The prominent mission of modern universities, also known as ‘third mission’, especially underlines the contribution of universities to the knowledge-based economic development transferring innovative technologies to the industry. Such innovative
technologies are generally identified with patenting; thereby, innovative universities are largely described with their success of patent acquisition and their commercial impact. Using similar criteria (Total Patents Filed, Patents Granted, and Commercial Impact), Reuters forms a ranking to define the most innovative universities in the world as well as in a particular region. However, they take neither the combination of the scores from these three categories nor the research budget of the universities into account. Here, an interesting question arises: Which universities are more innovative? Universities that use large amount of research budget to produce a higher number of patent files or universities that use less amount of research budget to grant a higher number of patents with a bigger commercial impact? To answer such a question, this research focuses on the re-examination of Reuters’ Innovative University Rankings in 2017. The research data were collected from three category scores in the website of Reuters’ the Most Innovative University Rankings and from the universities’ websites for their research budget. To re-examine the Reuters’ Rankings, three steps comparative analysis was designed. First, taking no commercial return for each patent application into consideration, universities were re-ranked based on their granted patents; among the total of 230 universities, only two university had the same rank. Second, the rankings were re-assessed in terms of the score obtained multiplying the number of granted patents with their commercial impact ratio (in respect to the global average of commercial impact); there were eight university keeping its place in the new rankings. As the last step of the ranking analysis, the research budgets were divided to the score obtained multiplying the number of granted patents and their commercial impact ratio. The findings showed that only four universities (in the list of80 universities) kept their rankings, and others dropped down to 45 or climb up to 61 places. The research revealed that the world’s most innovative universities, in real terms of spending less money to produce more patents with greater commercial impact, have highly different rankings. Their position in the global or regional lists of Reuters’ Innovative University Rankings could not fully reflect their actual innovative success. As a result, beyond the
financial power, universities need to ensure different factors, such as a highly flexible organisational design to support creative intelligence of researchers, as in highly innovative, Adhocracy-Type Institutions.