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17 September 2014

GUV TTO and combined world rankings 2014

GUV reveals its top 25 TTOs in the world and examines what happens when rankings are combined.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor

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

GUV Rank University TTO
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
20 Chicago University UChicagoTech
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

Overall Rank THE ARWU QS
1 Harvard University 2 1 2
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 5 3 1
3 Stanford University 4 2 7
4 Cambridge University 7 5 3
5 Oxford University 2 9 6
6 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 1 7 10
7 Princeton University 6 6 10
8 Chicago University 9 9 9
9 Yale University 11 11 8
10 Columbia University 13 8 14
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
16 Cornell University 19 13 15
17 Johns Hopkins University 15 17 16
18 Toronto University 20 24 17
19 Michigan University 18 22 22
20 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 12 12 40
21 Duke University 17 31 23
22 The University of Tokyo 23 21 32
23 Northwestern University 22 28 29
24 Wisconsin-Madison University 30 24 37
24 Karolinska Institute 36 45 10
26 Washington University 25 15 59
27 Edinburgh University 39 45 17
28 Melbourne University 34 44 31
29 New York University (NYU) 40 27 44
30 University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign 29 28 56
30 Kyoto University 52 26 35
32 King's College London 38 59 19
33 British Columbia University 31 37 49
34 University of California, San Diego 40 14 63
35 McGill University 35 67 21
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
44 Heidelberg University 68 49 50
45 Munich University 55 49 65
46 University of Bristol 79 63 30
47 Brown University 52 74 47
48 University of Minnesota 46 30 102
49 Seoul National University 44 101 35
50 Queensland University 63 85 43
51 Peking University 45 101 46
52 University of California, Davis 52 55 85
53 Boston University 50 70 79
54 Tsinghua University 50 101 48
55 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) 32 101 68
56 University of California, Santa Barbara 33 41 130
57 Sydney University 72 101 38
58 Utrecht University 74 57 81
59 Pennsylvania State University 49 58 107
60 Leiden University 67 77 74
61 Hong Kong University 43 151 26
62 Purdue University 62 60 99
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  
66 KU Leuven 61 96 77
67 Copenhagen University 150 39 45
68 Ohio State University 59 64 113
69 Amsterdam University 83 100 58
70 Helsinki University 100 73 69
71 Pierre et Marie Curie University 96 35 112
72 University of Southern California 70 51 125
73 Pittsburgh University 78 65 106
74 Uppsala University 111 60 79
75 Zurich University 121 56 78
76 Monash University 91 101 69
77 Geneva University 124 66 71
78 Maryland University 108 43 116
79 New South Wales University 114 101 52
80 Nanyang Technological University 76 151 41
81 Glasgow University 117 101 51
82 Basel University 74 90 110
83 Ghent University 85 70 122
84 Groningen University 98 82 97
85 Osaka University 144 78 55
86 Rice University 65 82 136
87 Sheffield University 112 101 71
88 University of California, Irvine 93 47 149
89 École Normale Supérieure 65 67 158
90 Colorado Boulder University 97 34 160
91 Lund University 123 101 67
92 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 57 201 34
93 Göttingen University 63 101 128
94 Free University of Berlin 86 * 109
95 Chinese University of Hong Kong 109 151 39
96 Aarhus University 138 74 91
97 Alberta University 109 101 96
98 Erasmus University Rotterdam 73 151 92
99 Birmingham University 153 101 62
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.

Copyright Mawsonia Limited 2010. Please don´t cut articles from www.globaluniversityventuring.com or the PDF and redistribute by email or post to the web without written permission.

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