Asia’s Most Innovative Universities2016-10-27Hit:650
Asia’s Most Innovative Universities
By David Ewalt
India have the biggest populations in the Asia-Pacific region, and the economic
news coming out of both countries usually dominates world headlines. But it’s
their relatively small regional neighbors Japan and South Korea that dominate
the Reuters Top 75:
Asia’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that identifies the educational institutions
that are doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help
drive the global economy. Out of the top 20 universities, 17 are based in Japan
and South Korea.
list as the most innovative university in Asia is KAIST,
also known as Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology. Established
in 1971 by the Korean government with funding from the United States, the
university was modeled after engineering schools in the U.S., and its
instruction stresses problem-solving skills and hands-on experience over
its first-place rank by producing original and influential research.
Organizations around the world cite KAIST’s patent portfolio as significant
prior art in their own patent applications more than any other university in
Asia – a strong indicator that the university has an outsized impact on global
research and development.
That’s a key
criterion in the Reuters ranking, which was compiled with data from the
Intellectual Property & Science division of Thomson Reuters. The ranking is
based on a methodology that focuses on academic papers, which indicate basic
research performed at a university, and patent filings, which point to an
institution's interest in protecting and commercializing its discoveries.
based in Northeast Asia tend to produce a high volume of patent applications,
and that helps their home countries stand out as hot spots for innovation in
the Asia-Pacific region. On average, the South Korean and Japanese universities
on the list file twice as many patent applications than universities in the
seven other ranked countries.
most innovative university in Asia is Japan’s University of
Tokyo. Established in 1877 as the nation’s first Imperial
university, “Todai” now enrolls more than 28,000 students, and operates 13
university wide centers and 11 affiliated research institutes. Nearly 200
companies from across the world partner with the University of Tokyo on
collaborative research projects, including Johnson & Johnson, which helps
sponsor the Department of Healthcare Quality Assessment, and Fujifilm Corp,
which backs the Laboratory of Next Generation Drug Development.
ranked school outside of Northeast Asia is the National
University of Singapore (#11). When it was founded in 1905 as the
Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School, NUS
enrolled just 23 students. The university took its modern form after a 1980
merger with Nanyang University, and currently has about 38,000 students across
highest ranked university is Tsinghua
University (#13), a public research university based in Beijing. The
university has more than 45,000 students and its faculty includes eight Nobel
laureates. Tsinghua is one of nine schools in mainland China that belong to the
C9 League, an elite group of universities analogous to the Ivy League in the United
States. Another league member, Peking
University (#16), is the only other Chinese university to crack the
there are 22 Chinese universities on Reuters’ ranking – more than any other
country. But that’s not as many as you might expect from such a large nation.
China has a massive population of more than 1.37 billion people, so in terms of
ranked universities per capita, it ranks eighth out of nine countries. Compare
that with top-ranked South Korea, which has 20 schools on the list and a
relatively tiny population of just over 50 million people. (Japan also has 20
ranked universities, Australia has six, Singapore, India and Malaysia each have
two, and New Zealand has one.)
Chinese universities don’t perform as well as their competitors: they tend to
submit less of their research to international patent authorities. Universities
outside of China are more likely to file patents in the U.S. and Europe as well
as in their home country, indicating that those institutions are invested in
protecting and commercializing their discoveries.
universities also don’t spend as much time collaborating with private industry.
They publish relatively few journal articles in collaboration with industry
co-authors, and are cited less often in articles published by corporate
researchers. The Chinese universities that collaborate most often with industry
are all based in the economically autonomous territory of Hong Kong, including
University of Hong Kong (#21) and Hong Kong
University of Science & Technology (#30).
underperform on the ranking because of the way they organize their university
systems. Despite boasting the world’s second-largest population (more than 1.25
billion) and one of its largest economies, only two Indian universities appear
in the top 75, The Indian
Institutes of Technology (#71) and the Indian Institute of Science -
Bangalore (#72). The Indian Institutes of Technology is a network of
23 universities which centralize their patent administration, so it's not
always possible to identify which constituent university was responsible for
what research. As a result, Reuters ranked the entire system as opposed to
individual universities. World-class campuses like IIT Delhi and IIT Bombay may
have ranked much higher on the list if they weren’t grouped in with smaller and
newer institutes like IIT Tirupati and IIT Palakkad.
countries are missing from the list entirely. There are no ranked universities
in Indonesia, which contains Asia’s third largest population. Nor are there any
universities in Pakistan or Bangladesh, the region’s fourth- and fifth-most
populous countries, or any universities in the Philippines and Vietnam, two of
the region’s largest economies.
just because a country doesn’t have any schools in the Reuters Top 75 doesn’t
mean their universities aren’t doing important research. Since the ranking
measures innovation on an institutional level, it may overlook particularly
innovative departments or programs. A university might rank low for overall
innovation, but still operate one of the world’s most innovative nanotechnology
laboratories, for instance. And it’s important to remember that whether they
rank in the top 10 or somewhere in the 70s, all the universities ranked in the
Asia Top 75 count among the world’s best – they all produce original research,
create useful technology and stimulate the global economy.
In order to compile its ranking of Asia’s most innovative universities, the IP & Science division of Thomson Reuters began by identifying more than 600 global organizations – including educational institutions, nonprofit charities and government-funded labs – that publish the most academic research. Then they evaluated each candidate on 10 different metrics, trimmed the list so that it only included universities located in the Asia Pacific region and ranked them based on their performance.
Edited by Arlyn Tobias Gajilan and Alessandra Rafferty