The 26 most innovative universities in Europe - ranked

The University of OxfordOxfordThe UK’s Oxford University isn’t top of this ranking.

Universities are hubs of innovation, but the concept of innovation itself is difficult to measure empirically.

Thompson Reuters’ ranking of the most innovative universities in the world, attempts to do just that, however.

The ranking was created from these variables: the number of patents filed by each university between 2008 and 2013, how many of those were granted (as a percentage) and the commercial impact the institution’s research has had.

Of the 100 ranked by Reuters, 26 of those are from Europe.

You can check out the full ranking of the top 100 most innovative universities in the world and a full explanation of its methodology at Reuters.

26. Karlsruhe Insitute of Technology (KIT), Germany.

The Institution for Electric Engineering at KIT

The Karlsruhe Insitute of Technology in Germany supplies a lot of physicists to CERN and counts mechanical engineer Karl Benz, who invented the first practical car powered by an internal-combustion engine, as an alumni.

Total patents filed: 194

Patents granted: 58.8% success rate

Commercial impact score: 31.3 (against an average score of 54.2)

25. The University of Montpellier, France.


The University of Montpellier has close ties to the technology industry in southeastern France, especially the biomedical sector. French fashion designer Christian Lacroix also studied here.

Total patents filed: 118

Patents granted: 60.2%

Commercial impact score: 52.2

24. University of Aix-Marseille, France.


The University of Aix-Marseille operates 131 research facilities, and has active partnerships with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). IMF managing director Christine Lagarde studied here.

Total patents filed: 127

Patents granted: 55.1%

Commercial impact score: 42.1

23. Free University of Berlin, Germany.

The Free University of Berlin's botanical gardens.

The Free University of Berlin was established in West Berlin in response to the Soviet limitation of academic freedom at other institutions in Berlin in 1948.

Total patents filed: 165

Patents granted: 29.7%

Commercial impact score: 57.9

22. University of Manchester, England.


Skyscanner CEO Gareth Williams studied mathematics and computing and met the site's cofounders at Manchester University.

Total patents filed: 109

Patents granted: 29.4%

Commercial impact score: 36.8

21. Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The Erasmus University Rotterdam library.

Erasmus MC, EUR's medical center, is the largest health sciences research institute in the Netherlands.

Total patents filed: 102

Patents granted: 19.6%

Commercial impact score: 51.5

20. University of Claude Bernard, part of the University of Lyon, France.


One of three public universities that comprise the University of Lyon, UCBL is named after the French physiologist Claude Bernard.

Total patents filed: 230

Patents granted: 69.9%

Commercial impact score: 50.4

19. University of Strasbourg, Alsace, France.


The University of Strasbourg counts European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as an alumni.

Total patents filed: 166

Patents granted: 48.8%

Commercial impact score: 74.4

18. Joseph Fourier University, France.

JFU is based in Grenoble.

JFU commercializes on-campus discoveries via Floralis, a private subsidiary that has launched 35 startups in 15 years. The university is tied with Korea University at number 84 on the Reuters top 100.

Total patents filed: 162

Patents granted: 65.4%

Commercial impact score: 46.1

17. University of Paris Descartes, France.


The University of Paris Descartes is the only university in the Ile-de-France region (which surrounds Paris) to offer students medical, pharmaceutical and ontological studies.

Total patents filed: 162

Patents granted: 65.4%

Commercial impact score: 46.1

16. University of Paris Sud

The University of Paris Sud faculty for science.

University of Paris Sud researchers have been awarded two Nobel Prizes in physics and four Fields Medals since 1991.

Total patents filed: 130

Patents granted: 60.8%

Commercial impact score: 46.6

15. University of Freiburg

The department of surgery at the University of Freiburg's medical centre.

University of Freiburg alumni Paul Ehrlich and Hans Adolf Krebs won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1909 and 1953, respectively.

Total patents filed: 177

Patents granted: 40.2%

Commercial impact score: 56.5

14. Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

Delft University of Technology's library

Delft students and faculty have designed a their own humanoid robot and solar-powered race car. The university's high-tech entrepreneurs center, YES!Delft, helped launch 150 startup businesses since it was founded in 2015.

Total patents filed: 86

Patents granted: 51.2%

Commercial impact score: 20.6

13. University of London, England.

Senate House (seen here from the London Eye) has been the headquarters of the University of London since 1937.

According to Reuters research, the University of London's Institure of Cancer Research has discovered 18 cancer drug candidates and moved eight new drugs into clinical trials since 2005.

Total patents filed: 330

Patents granted: 33%

Commercial impact score: 43.4

12. Ghent University, Belgium

Ghent University's faculty of science.

Ghent University's campus contains two science parks that bring university research labs and private companies together to collaborate.

Total patents filed: 218

Patents granted: 38.1%

Commercial impact score: 44.9

11. Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris

UPMC's faculty of medicine.

Also known as University of Paris VI, UPMC is the largest scientific and medical complex in France.

Total patents filed: 244

Patents granted: 58.6%

Commercial impact score: 43.9

10. University of Munich

Poco a Poco, Wikipedia

University of Munich is also know as the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, or LMU. Biochemist Christian Haass received the MetLife Foundation Award for Medical Research for his work fighting Alzheimer's disease.

Total patents filed: 120

Patents granted: 38.3%

Commercial impact score: 56.7

9. University of Zurich

Khalid Mahmood/Wikipedia
The entrance to the University of Zurich.

The University of Zurich is the largest university in Switzerland, and is currently working to get customisable skin grafts to market and developing drones with autonomous flight capabilities

Total patents filed: 155

Patents granted: 36.1%

Commercial impact score: 53.8

8. University of Erlangen-Nuremberg


Also known as Friedrich-Alexander University, or FAU, the university specialises in engineering, medicine and science. It also partners with corporations, like Procter & Gamble, which is working on a project with the school to develop eco-friendly disposable diapers.

Total patents filed: 155

Patents granted: 36.1%

Commercial impact score: 53.8

7. Technical University of Denmark


DTU researchers registered 152 inventions in 2014, spun off 51 ventures, and collaborated with industry on 1,249 projects.

Total patents filed: 240

Patents granted: 40%

Commercial impact score: 49.5

Notable alumni: Albert Einstein.

6. Oxford University

6. University of Oxford

Google Ventures has invested in an accelerator based on the Oxford University campus, and acquired two AI startups spun out from the University, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory, through Deepmind.

Total patents filed: 391

Patents granted: 24.6%

Commercial impact score: 50.4

3. University of Cambridge

Wikipedia/Andrew Dunn

The cluster of hardware and software companies based in Cambridge, dubbed 'Silicon Fen,' owes its success to the science and engineering talent coming out of the university.

Total patents filed: 232

Patents granted: 33.6%

Commercial impact score: 54.5

Notable alumni: Alan Turing.

2. KU Leuven, Belgium

Inner view of the Adrian VI college at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

KU Leuven aims to stay 3 to 10 years ahead of industrial needs in fields including microelectronics, nanotechnology, and information and communications systems.

Total patents filed: 299

Patents granted: 39.8%

Commercial impact score: 49

1. Imperial College London

Imperial College London

Imperial came in 11th in the Thompson Reuters world ranking.

Ir recently raised a £200 million to create two new research hubs: the Translation and Innovation Hub, scheduled to open in 2016, which will house technology partners and new startups, and the interconnected Molecular Science Research Hub, due for completion by 2017.

Sir Alexander Fleming, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945 for co-discovering penicillin. Science fiction author H.G Wells also studied here.

Total patents filed: 301

Patents granted: 26.2%

Commercial impact score: 58.8

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