THE to launch new innovation ranking

League table may include metrics on university spin-off companies and research publications co-authored with industry

February 14, 2018
Lightbulb innovation
Source: iStock

Times Higher Education is developing plans for a pioneering ranking focused on universities’ impact on society, to be launched at THE’s Innovation and Impact Summit in South Korea in April 2019.

Confirming that the 2019 Innovation and Impact Summit will be held in partnership with one of the world’s leading research and technology universities, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Phil Baty, THE’s editorial director for global rankings, also announced that THE has begun to collect new data on university-business interactions, with plans to consult on a range of new performance metrics for a ranking to be launched and debated at the summit.

“The impact that a university has on the economy and our wider society through its innovations and inventions has never been higher on the global agenda,” said Mr Baty.

“In much of East Asia – and particularly in South Korea where we will host our summit – governments have been investing to develop world-class universities to drive economic growth, with a strong focus on the applications of new knowledge and the commercialisation of ideas. Similarly, in many parts of the West, universities are under tremendous pressure to prove their value to society and justify their share of limited public funding in competition with schools, hospitals and other public services.”

He added that students also increasingly want to understand how well universities engage with business, as it will impact on their experiences and opportunities at university.

“So the need and desire for clear, new metrics on university impact is strong,” he said.

Times Higher Education is delighted to be building on its 15 years of experience in global rankings and data analysis to develop, in full partnership with the global university community, new performance indicators in this exciting emerging area. After exploring some of our ideas at our inaugural Innovation and Impact Summit in 2017 with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, there is no better place to scrutinise and explore the resulting datasets and analyses than at one of the world’s most high-impact institutions, KAIST, in a country that completely transformed its economy in a matter of decades through research and innovation.”

Currently, THE collects data on the research income universities attract from business and industry, which forms one of 13 performance indicators in its World University Rankings. But a new pilot data collection exercise has been initiated in parallel to data collection for the World University Rankings, covering:

  • Income from business consultancy
  • Turnover of all active spin-off activities
  • Number of active spin-off companies (active for at least three years) – broken down by those with some institutional ownership and those not owned by the institution.

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 ranking.

“We recognise that a university’s impact goes well beyond its economic impact, and we recognise that this is a very difficult area, with very limited comparable or relevant data at the global level, so we are treading carefully and piloting data collection in a relatively narrow area, focused on economic impact, to test the quality and coverage of the data available,” said Mr Baty. “We will maintain an open and consultative approach to how the data are used, and the data we present at KAIST in 2019 will be subject to further consultative discussion at the summit.”

To find out more and to take part in our data collection, please email:

The Innovation and Impact Summit will take place from 2 to 4 April 2019 at KAIST in South Korea. More details will be announced soon, but to register your interest in attending the summit please email:

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