It was recently announced that the National University of Singapore (NUS) has been placed 10th in the latest, moving up one place from last year. NUS is the highest ranked educational institution outside of Northeast Asia on the list, and it is also the only Singapore university to be placed among the top 10 universities in the list.
“We are delighted that NUS is among Asia Pacific’s top 10 most innovative universities in the latest Reuters Top 75 rankings. Over the last decade, NUS had actively fostered innovation by driving multidisciplinary research and strengthening international linkages with leading laboratories around the world. The relentless pursuit of research excellence by our dedicated faculty members, researchers, staff and students has significantly broadened and deepened the impact of NUS’ high quality research,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.
“We will continue to advance science and technology with novel discoveries and accelerate their translation into innovative solutions that could benefit Singaporeans and the global community,” Prof Tan added.
Outside of Singapore, universities in Korea, Japan and China are leading the region. For the third consecutive year, South Korea’s KAIST is the most innovative university in the region. Japan’s University of Tokyo ranked the second, moving up one rank from 2017. Korea’s POSTECH took third, also moving up one, and Seoul National University came in fourth after dropping two. Tsinghua University ranked fifth, up one from last year.
The rankings recognises educational institutions in the Asia Pacific region which are doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies, and power new markets and industries. The ranking is based on empirical data including patent filings, journal articles published and research paper citations.
To compile the latest list, scientific literature and patent data across 10 criteria from 2011 to 2016 were analysed to determine the most innovative academic institutions in the Asia Pacific. Organisations were evaluated on a list of criteria, they are:
(1) Patent volume – The number of basic patents (patent families) filed by the organisation. This is an indication of research output that has a potential for commercial value. The number is limited only to those patents that are registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
(2) Patent success – The ratio of patent applications to grants over the assessed timeframe. This indicates the university’s success in filing applications that are then accepted.
(3) Global patents – The percentage of patents for which coverage was sought with the US, European and Japanese patent offices. Filing an international patent is an expensive and laborious process and filing in multiple countries or regions is an indication that the invention is considered to be nontrivial and has commercial value.
(4) Patent citations – The total number of times a patent has been cited by other patents. As part of the patent inspection process, the patent office examiner will cite significant prior art. The number of times a patent has been cited is an indication that it has an impact on other commercial R&D.
(5) Patent citation impact – This is an indication of how much impact a patent has had. As it is a ratio (or average), it is not dependent on the size of the organisation. This indicator is closely related to another indicator Percent of Patents Cited, therefore these two indicators are given half the weighting of all others.
(6) Percent of patents cited – This indicator is the proportion of patents that have been cited by other patents one or more times. As mentioned, it is closely tied to the Patent Citation Impact indicator.
(7) Patent to article citation impact – This indicator measures the average number of times a journal article has been cited by patents. This unique indicator demonstrates that basic research conducted in an academic setting, as recorded in scholarly articles, has had influence and impact in the realm of commercial research & development, as measured by patents.
(8) Industry article citation impact – Article-to-article citations are an established indicator of influence and research impact. By limiting the citing articles only to those from industry, this indicator reveals the influence and impact that basic research conducted in an academic setting has had on commercial research.
(9) Percent of industry collaborative articles – The percentage of all articles of a university that contain one or more co-authors from a commercial entity. This indicator shows the percentage of research activity that is conducted in collaboration with industry, suggesting potential future economic impact of the research project jointly undertaken.
(10) Total Web of Science core collection papers – The total number of journal articles published by the organisation. This is a size-dependent measure of the research output of the university.
These criteria contribute to the composite score, which in turn determined the ranking of the universities according to innovative capacity and achievement.
According to Reuters, the process began by identifying approximately 150 academic and government Asia-Pacific organisations, a subset of the 600 such organisations globally, that published the greatest number of articles in scholarly journals from 2011 to 2016, as indexed in the Clarivate Analytics Web of Science Core Collection database. The list was cross-referenced against the number of patents filed by each organisation during the same time period in the Derwent World Patents Index and the Derwent Innovations Index. Patent equivalents, citing patents and citing articles were included up to March 2018. The timeframe allows for the articles and patent activity to receive citations, thereby contributing to that portion of the methodology.
The list was reduced to those institutions that filed 50 or more patents, the bulk of which were universities. Each candidate university was then evaluated using various indicators including how often a university’s patent applications were granted, how many patents were filed with global patent offices and local authorities, and how often the university's patents were cited by others. Universities were also evaluated in terms of how often their research papers were cited by patents and the percentage of articles that featured a co-author from industry.