Belgium’s KU Leuven tops the annual Reuters Top 100: Europe’s Most Innovative Universities ranking for the second time

The heart of European innovation isn’t London, Berlin or Paris – it’s a small city in Flanders.

AMSTERDAM – The heart of European innovation isn’t a major metropolis – it’s a small city in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. That’s the conclusion of the second annual Reuters ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies, and help drive the global economy.

The most innovative university in Europe, for the second year running, is Belgium’s KU Leuven. This nearly 600-year-old institution was founded by Pope Martin V, but today it’s better known for technology than theology: KU Leuven maintains one of the largest independent research and development organizations on the planet. In fiscal 2015, the university’s research spending exceeded €454 million, and its patent portfolio currently includes 586 active families, each one representing an invention protected in multiple countries.

How does a relatively small Catholic university out-innovate bigger, better-known institutions across Europe? KU Leuven earned its first-place rank, in part, by producing a high volume of influential inventions. Its researchers submit more patents than most other universities on the continent, and outside researchers frequently cite KU Leuven inventions in their own patent applications. Those are key criteria in Reuters ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, which was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, formerly the Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, and is based on proprietary data and analysis of indicators including patent filings and research paper citations.

The second most innovative university in Europe is Imperial College London, an institution whose researchers have been responsible for the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the invention of fiber optics. The third-place University of Cambridge has been associated with 91 Nobel Laureates during its 800-year history. And the fourth-place Technical University of Munich has spun off more than 800 companies since 1990, including a variety of high-tech startups in industries including renewable energy, semiconductors and nanotechnology.

Overall, the same countries that dominate European business and politics dominate the ranking of Europe's Most Innovative Universities. But these countries are also among the most populous and richest countries on the continent. Control for those factors, and it turns out that countries with much smaller populations and modest economies often outperform big ones.

For more on the Reuters Top 100: Europe’s Most Innovative Universities, including a detailed methodology and profiles of the universities, visit http://www.reuters.com/article/us-reutersrankings-europeanuniversities-idUSKBN17Z09T.

The Reuters Top 100: The Most Innovative European Universities

Rank

Institution

Country

1

KU Leuven

Belgium

2

Imperial College London

United Kingdom

3

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

4

Technical University of Munich

Germany

5

Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Switzerland

6

University of Erlangen Nuremberg

Germany

7

Pierre & Marie Curie University - Paris 6

France

8

Delft University of Technology

Netherlands

9

University of Zurich

Switzerland

10

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

11

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Switzerland

12

University of Munich

Germany

13

University of Copenhagen

Denmark

14

Technical University of Denmark

Denmark

15

Universite de Montpellier

France

16

University of Manchester

United Kingdom

17

Leiden University

Netherlands

18

Free University of Berlin

Germany

19

Ghent University

Belgium

20

University of Paris Descartes - Paris V

France

21

University of Dundee

United Kingdom

22

University of Paris Sud - Paris XI

France

23

University of London

United Kingdom

24

University of Freiburg

Germany

25

University of Basel

Switzerland

26

Dresden University of Technology

Germany

27

Ruprecht Karl University Heidelberg

Germany

28

Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Germany

29

University of Strasbourg

France

30

Charite Medical University of Berlin

Germany

31

Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble

France

32

Erasmus University Rotterdam

Netherlands

33

Humboldt University of Berlin

Germany

34

University of Edinburgh

United Kingdom

35

University of Aix-Marseille

France

36

Cardiff University

United Kingdom

37

University of Claude Bernard - Lyon 1

France

38

Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Belgium

39

Polytechnic University of Milan

Italy

40

University of Amsterdam

Netherlands

41

Technical University of Berlin

Germany

42

Universite de Bordeaux

France

43

Joseph Fourier University

France

44

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Germany

45

Ecole Polytechnique

France

46

University of Oslo

Norway

47

University of Paris Diderot - Paris VII

France

48

Vrije University of Brussels

Belgium

49

Saarland University

Germany

50

University of Utrecht

Netherlands

51

Vienna University of Technology

Austria

52

Universite Catholique Louvain

Belgium

53

University of Milan

Italy

54

University of Glasgow

United Kingdom

55

Universite Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier

France

56

University of Birmingham

United Kingdom

57

RWTH Aachen University

Germany

58

Hannover Medical School

Germany

59

Eberhard Karls University of Tubingen

Germany

60

Trinity College Dublin

Ireland

61

University of Munster

Germany

62

University of Sheffield

United Kingdom

63

University of Barcelona

Spain

64

University of Lorraine

France

65

University of Twente

Netherlands

66

Sapienza University Rome

Italy

67

University of Bristol

United Kingdom

68

Aarhus University

Denmark

69

Friedrich Schiller University of Jena

Germany

70

University of Groningen

Netherlands

71

University of Nottingham

United Kingdom

72

University of Nantes Angers Le Mans

France

73

University of Leeds

United Kingdom

74

University of St Andrews

United Kingdom

75

University College Cork

Ireland

76

University of Stuttgart

Germany

77

Maastricht University

Netherlands

78

University of Southampton

United Kingdom

79

University of Rennes 1

France

80

University of Liege

Belgium

81

Autonomous University of Barcelona

Spain

82

University of Valencia

Spain

83

University of Padua

Italy

84

Polytechnic University of Catalonia

Spain

85

Universitat Politecnica de Valencia

Spain

86

University of Bologna

Italy

87

University of Bonn

Germany

88

University of Warwick

United Kingdom

89

Darmstadt University of Technology

Germany

90

Jagiellonian University

Poland

91

University of Rostock

Germany

92

University of Santiago De Compostela

Spain

93

University of Sevilla

Spain

94

Universite Nice Sophia Antipolis

France

95

University of Hannover

Germany

96

Polytechnic University of Madrid

Spain

97

Complutense University of Madrid

Spain

98

University College Dublin

Ireland

99

University of Granada

Spain

100

Autonomous University of Madrid

Spain

Notes to Editors

The ‘Powering Innovation in Europe 2017’ webcast launching the European Top 100 will take place from 10.30am CEST on May 3 and can be watched at www.reuters.com/innovative-universities-livestream-2017

In conjunction with the release of the Top 100 rankings, a panel of experts will examine how to set metrics, work with partners, and develop ideas into successful products and startups.

Viewers will be able to Tweet their questions using the hashtag #ReutersRankings

Panellists:

Jacob Degn Flindt, CEO and Founder, MedArkive Ltd.

Alexander von Gabain, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Innovation and Commercial Outreach, Karolinska Institute

Laura Pontiggia, Policy Advisor, European Research Council Executive Agency

Malcolm Wilkinson, CEO and Founder, Kirkstall Ltd.

Reuters

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