GUV reveals its top 25 TTOs in the world and examines what happens when rankings are combined.
According to the World List of Universities and Other Institutions of Higher Education, there are more than 16,000 institutions worldwide. When research was conducted prior to the launch of Global University Venturing, there was a need to identify the universities that we needed to tap into first for news and data.
We decided the best way to get an overview on the top players in the university world was to combine three of the major rankings – Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. We took the information from this combined ranking as one of the main sets of data for the magazine, and from that list Global University Venturing has grown.
That was in 2012. This year, we decided to do the same, but to open up the ranking information to our readers, and the top 100 universities in the world by combined ranking can be found with this report. However, it quickly became apparent when checking the methodology of each ranking that the lists are generally blind to a university’s ability to innovate and its efforts in terms of technology transfer.
For the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings, 40% of a university’s overall score comes from academic reputation. Academics are asked where the best research in their field is being conducted, and the ranking is weighted hugely towards a subjective standpoint. It is further broken down by employer reputation (10%), student-to-faculty ratio (20%), international faculty ratio (5%), and international student ratio (5%). Only 20%, citations per faculty, considers the research output of an institution, which fails to recognise the ability of a university to turn an idea into reality.
Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks higher in this regard, with 40% of the overall ranking weighted towards research output. And yet that 40% still looks at only the publishing of academic papers, not the eventual impact. Quality of education and faculty takes up a further 50%, with the main indicators being citations, Nobel prizes and Fields medals. The final 10% focuses on per capita academic performance.
Only Times Higher Education allocates for the impact for innovation and technology transfer, at 2.5% of an overall score. Teaching, citations, research volume, income and reputation all take a 30% chunk each, while the remaining 7.5% examines international outlook.
In an attempt to begin to rectify this, Global University Venturing has taken a look at some of the top universities according to our combined ranking, and assessed their technology transfer efforts by the metrics of revenues generated, inventions disclosed, patents issued, spin-outs created and licensing deals done.
However, the rankings are far from conclusive. Many issues begin to arise when assessing technology transfer. For a start, many tech transfer offices (TTOs) remain hard to contact or make it difficult to acquire statistics. Only a handful provide useful data online or produce an annual report, something that seems counterintuitive for units that, by the nature of their mission briefs, will have to go beyond their own campuses and interact with the outside world.
There are many reasons why this might be so. Perhaps the TTO lacks the financial capacity or inclination to consider its wider marketing strategy. Inter-university competitiveness could hamper how a TTO reports its facts, with a lack of enthusiasm for being shown up by peers. Regional approaches also affect how open a TTO is, with the US, UK or Australian approach to extending reach markedly different to some of their European or Asian counterparts.
There is also a sense that some TTOs may be reluctant to share statistics. Indeed, if 84% of US universities are operating their tech transfer programmes in the red, then such hesitance may well be understandable.
Another consideration is the expertise of staff in building the bridge between academia and industry, and smaller TTOs lack the human resources to conduct their activities effectively, lending support to the idea that critical mass, be it through a larger research budget or inter-university cooperation on the tech transfer level, is key to overall success.
For whatever reason, many TTOs shy away from sharing their stories and statistics. To counteract this behaviour, a debate needs to be held on how innovation stemming from universities is ranked. Is it, as the major rankings suggest, purely a factor of how much prestige papers can pull in? And can the success of technology transfer be distilled into a handful of statistics such as revenues and patents filed, or does that merely tip the balance in favour of bigger universities while creating a culture obsessed with creating an office with the biggest stack of patents and deals?
With that in mind, it should be considered that this year’s inaugural rankings are preliminary – a review of what is to come should that debate not be held. An alternative would be to look at the wider innovation offering from a university, rather than the metrics being simply a check-list of easily tallied output. In some parts of the world, spin-outs are dwindling while student startups soar, underlining the need to factor in startup rate, incubator support and survival rates for both startups and spin-outs. Another point to consider is a university’s research budget, how much research it produces and at what quality, and how much of that goes on to have a direct impact through knowledge or technology transfer. From a financial viewpoint, what does a university’s activities have on the local economy, and how much does a country’s university system add to its whole economic output? What funding is available by way of grants, seed funds and university venture funds, and what does the angel and venture capital support for a university look like in comparison with others?
Then purely on a tech transfer level, current metrics should still have a place, but other activities need to be considered. How does a TTO’s academic-industry relations look in comparison with others and, in turn, what support and training does it offer its academics on where their papers may go once published, and how do the academics rate a TTO’s performance? Does a TTO market itself effectively internally and externally? Does it co-operate with other universities to achieve its mission of converting taxpayer-funded research into the wider market? What are the failure rates of inventions and patent applications, and what steps does a TTO take to feed that information back into a university’s research ecosystem and help shape future research outlook?
When these questions, and others like them, begin to be answered, a ranking goes beyond simply asking who has the biggest numbers. It creates a pretext for a discussion of what is important to university innovation that both academics and industry can feed into. It shares a set of common values and best practice for tech transfer to strive towards, and allows those with smaller yet more effective operations to shine alongside their larger contemporaries. Crucially, it helps formulate a vision of how to stimulate innovation that all universities can work towards.
Global University Venturing TTO Rankings
|1||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||Technology Licensing Office|
|2||University of Pennsylvania||Penn Centre for Innovation|
|3||Cornell University||Centre for Technology Enterprise and Commercialisations|
|4||Columbia University||Columbia Technology Ventures|
|5||University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)||Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances |
|6||Johns Hopkins University||Technology Transfer|
|7||Stanford University||Office of Technology Licensing|
|8||Washington University||Centre for Commercialisation|
|9||University of California, San Diego||Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances |
|9||Oxford University||Isis Innovation|
|11||Northwestern University||Innovation and New Ventures Office|
|11||Cambridge University||Cambridge Enterprise|
|13||California Institute of Technology (Caltech)||Caltech Office of Technology Transfer|
|13||Michigan University||Office of Tech Transfer|
|15||Harvard University||Office of Technology Development|
|16||New York University (NYU)||Office of Industrial Liason|
|17||Imperial College London||Imperial Innovations|
|17||Edinburgh University||Edinburgh Research and Innovation|
|19||University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign||Office of Technology Management|
|21||Toronto University||Research and Innovation|
|22||University of California, Berkeley||Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances |
|22||University College London (UCL)||UCL Enterprise|
|24||University of British Columbia||University-Industry Liaison Office|
|25||Princeton University||Office of Technology Licensing|
Full data on metrics used can be found inside this month’s GUV magazine.
Notes on Global University Venturing rankings
The rankings were calculated by:
• Taking from the combined ranking the top 25 universities for which we could obtain statistics.
• Ranking each institution by individual metrics from 1 to 25. For any institution that could not provide a statistic in a certain category – for example, Stanford outsources its patenting activities while Imperial Innovations does not provide revenues made specifically from technology transfer activity with its financial data – universities were ranked or jointly ranked in last place for that category.
• An average of scores in each category was calculated and used to award a ranking position.
The 25 universities that made the final table were not necessarily in the top 25 of the combined world rankings.
The reason for this is that some of the universities in the top 25 – for example, Karolinska, Yale and Tokyo – neither provide statistics online nor responded to our requests for information.
Combined World Rankings
|2||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||5||3||1|
|6||California Institute of Technology (Caltech)||1||7||10|
|11||University of California, Berkeley||8||4||25|
|11||Imperial College London||10||22||5|
|13||ETH Zürich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich||14||19||12|
|13||University of Pennsylvania||16||16||13|
|13||University College London (UCL)||21||20||4|
|17||Johns Hopkins University||15||17||16|
|20||University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)||12||12||40|
|22||The University of Tokyo||23||21||32|
|29||New York University (NYU)||40||27||44|
|30||University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign||29||28||56|
|32||King’s College London||38||59||19|
|33||British Columbia University||31||37||49|
|34||University of California, San Diego||40||14||63|
|36||University of Manchester||58||38||33|
|37||University of Texas at Austin||27||39||71|
|38||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||47||36||54|
|39||Carnegie Mellon University||24||62||57|
|40||Australian National University||48||74||27|
|41||National University of Singapore (NUS)||26||101||24|
|42||École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne||37||96||19|
|43||Washington University in St Louis||42||32||86|
|46||University of Bristol||79||63||30|
|48||University of Minnesota||46||30||102|
|49||Seoul National University||44||101||35|
|52||University of California, Davis||52||55||85|
|55||London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)||32||101||68|
|56||University of California, Santa Barbara||33||41||130|
|59||Pennsylvania State University||49||58||107|
|61||Hong Kong University||43||151||26|
|63||Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)||28||99||99|
|64||University of California, Santa Cruz||138||93|| |
|65||The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas||188||45|| |
|68||Ohio State University||59||64||113|
|71||Pierre et Marie Curie University||96||35||112|
|72||University of Southern California||70||51||125|
|79||New South Wales University||114||101||52|
|80||Nanyang Technological University||76||151||41|
|88||University of California, Irvine||93||47||149|
|89||École Normale Supérieure||65||67||158|
|90||Colorado Boulder University||97||34||160|
|92||Hong Kong University of Science and Technology||57||201||34|
|94||Free University of Berlin||86||*||109|
|95||Chinese University of Hong Kong||109||151||39|
|98||Erasmus University Rotterdam||73||151||92|
|100||Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)||56||201||60|
* Because of an unresolved dispute over the Nobel laureates before the Second World War (both Humboldt and Freie Universität claim to be the rightful successor of the University of Berlin), they do not appear in the ARWU rankings anymore.