Innovation Rankings: FAQs

We answer some of your questions about the forthcoming Times Higher Education Innovation Rankings

February 20, 2018
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Editor’s note: 6 September 2018

The information on this page was correct at the time of publication. Since then, Times Higher Education has expanded its approach on producing an impact ranking. This is our new approach and here is the most up-to-date FAQs page.

Times Higher Education is developing a new rankings to capture a university’s impact on society and its capacity to innovate. A new set of performance metrics will be developed and published as a rankings at the Innovation and Impact Summit, which will be held at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), in South Korea, in April 2019.

The exact methodology and data sources will be subject to extensive consultation and THE is currently collecting new data from institutions throughout the world, asking universities to provide information about spin-off companies and business consultancy activity. This activity is taking place in parallel to the data collection for the next THE World University Rankings

If you would like to submit data, ask questions or offer feedback, please contact us at

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will the rankings do that other rankings do not do?

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are designed for research-intensive global universities and are dominated by indicators of research excellence. 

THE’s data team has also successfully pioneered new teaching-led rankings, focusing on teaching excellence and student success, in Japan and the United States (in partnership with The Wall Street Journal) and is shortly to produce its first Europe rankings.

However, research and teaching are not universities’ only missions. As the UK’s knowledge exchange framework recently highlighted, a “third mission” revolves around knowledge transfer and innovation. This is increasingly becoming a hot topic and moving higher up policymakers’ agendas.

will the rankings be published

A pilot innovation rankings will be developed and published at the Innovation and Impact Summit, which takes place at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), in South Korea, from 2 to 4 April 2019.

What data will you collect for this rankings?

If you are submitting data for the World University Rankings through our THE Data Collection Portal, you may have noticed that we are running an innovation rankings data collection in parallel covering:

  • income from business consultancy;
  • turnover of all active spin-off activities;
  • the number of active spin-off companies (active for at least three years), identifying those that reflect some institutional ownership and those that do not.

Data collection began in January 2018 and will conclude at the end of March 2018.

Do you have 
a detailed description of the data fields?

We are providing a data collection portal guide that explains key aspects of the process, including data field definitions.
If you have any queries, please send your questions to:

How will
the data currently collected
by THE
be used?

The current data collection process is designed to allow us to assess both the quality and amount of data available in this area at the global level. It will help us to refine data definitions and understand data limitations as we develop our plans for a more formal data collection later in 2018. We may share some of the data in public meetings and through our editorial channels, to support consultation over the metrics used in the new rankings.

will the methodology look like?

The methodology will be determined after further consultative events, including at meetings taking place throughout our World Summit Series, and through publications on Please do provide us with feedback on the data that we are collecting and offer other sources of relevant information and metrics.

Will all participating institutions be ranked?

The criteria for inclusion are yet to be defined. Inclusion will also depend on the quality of data available and the completeness of datasets. For example, we could exclude institutions if direct submissions are not sufficiently complete. We also reserve the right to use editorial judgement in exceptional cases.

What are your data sources?

Direct submissions: information submitted by institutions through our data collection portal on research income,
spin-off companies, academic and research staff, etc.
Third-party sources: the data could be combined with a range of existing datasets, for example on university-industry co-authored research publications, and patent and licensing data, to form a final rankings.

How do you validate data submitted by universities?

Data will be cross-checked against external sources at our discretion and we reserve the right to investigate institutions where we believe inappropriate data collection or submission has taken place.

The Innovation and Impact Summit will take place from 2 to 4 April 2019 at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), in South Korea. More details will be announced shortly, but to register your interest in attending the summit, please email:

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