Impact Rankings 2023: industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9) methodology

May 25, 2023

This ranking focuses on universities’ role of fostering innovation and serving the needs of industry. It explores institutions’ research on industry and innovation, their number of patents and spin-off companies and their research income from industry.

View the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2023 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking.


Research on industry, innovation and infrastructure (11.6%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to industry, innovation and infrastructure, measuring the volume of research produced.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and supplemented by additional publications identified by artificial intelligence. The data include all indexed publications between 2017 and 2021 and are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Patents citing university research (15.4%)

This is defined as the number of patents from any source that cite research conducted by the university.

The data are provided by Elsevier and relate to patents published between 2017 and 2021 (not research published between these dates). Patents are sourced from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the European Patent Office, and the patent offices of the US, the UK and Japan. The data are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

University spin-offs (34.6%)

University spin-offs are defined as registered companies set up to exploit intellectual property that has originated from within the institution. This metric looks at spin-offs that were established on or after 1 January 2000. They must have been established at least three years ago and still be active.

The data were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Research income from industry (38.4%)

This metric reflects the ability of the university to generate new research income from industry and commerce and is also used in the THE World University Rankings. It measures the amount of research income an institution earns from industry, adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), scaled against the number of academic staff it employs.

The data are subject-weighted against three broad areas: STEM; medicine; and arts, humanities and social sciences. This is scaled against the number of full-time equivalent staff in each area.

The data were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.


When we ask about policies and initiatives – for example, the existence of mentoring programmes – our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. In these cases, we give credit for the evidence, and for the evidence being public. These metrics are not usually size normalised.

Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria, and decisions are cross-validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence need not be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.

Time frame

In general, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2021. The date range for each metric is specified in the full methodology document.


The ranking is open to any university that teaches at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Although research activities form part of the method­ology, there is no minimum research requirement for participation.

THE reserves the right to exclude universities that it believes have falsified data, or are no longer in good standing.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, we enter a value of zero.

View the full methodology for the THE Impact Rankings 2023 here.

The THE Impact Rankings 2023 will be published at 11:30am BST on 1 June.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.