By David M. Ewalt
Every scientist hopes for a “Eureka” moment — the jolt of sudden insight when a discovery becomes clear. But great advances always follow regular progress, and while individual researchers might strive for disruption, institutions are most successful when they’re consistent and steady
That’s one conclusion of Reuters’ annual ranking of Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries.
The most innovative university in the region, for the third consecutive year, is South Korea’s KAIST. Formerly known as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, it is the nation’s oldest research-oriented science and engineering university, with campuses in Daejeon, Seoul and Busan. Established in 1971 by the Korean government, KAIST was modeled after engineering schools in the United States, and offers most of its courses in English.
Recent KAIST research highlights include the development of a highly durable platinum-based fuel cell catalyst that removes particulate matter from the air while it is in operation, an innovation that could lead to more efficient electric vehicles that reduce pollution when driven.
KAIST once again earned its first-place rank among the APAC’s most innovative universities by producing a high volume of influential inventions. Its researchers submit more patents than any other university on the list, and those patents are frequently cited by outside researchers in their own patents and papers.
Those are key criteria in Reuters ranking of Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities, which was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, and is based on proprietary data and analysis of indicators including patent filings and research paper citations.
Japan’s University of Tokyo takes the runner-up spot, moving up one rank from 2017. Korea’s POSTECH takes third, also moving up one, and Seoul National University comes in fourth after dropping two. Tsinghua University (#5) is the highest-ranked university in China, up one from last year. Osaka University (#6), Kyoto University (#7), Sungkyunkwan University (#8), Tohoku University (#9) and the National University of Singapore (#10) round out the top 10.
Only three new institutions appear on the list this year, all of them based in China: the China University of Mining & Technology (#56), Shandong University (#67), and Xiamen University (#74).
The region exhibits a remarkable consistency, unlike Europe and North America: In contrast, Reuters’ 2018 ranking of Europe’s Most Innovative Universities featured 15 new entries.
Overall, the same countries that dominate Asian business and politics dominate the ranking of APAC’s Most Innovative Universities. Chinese universities account for 27 of the 75 institutions on the list, more than any other country. South Korea comes in second with 20 institutions, and Japan is third with 19. Australia has 5, Singapore has 2, and India and New Zealand each have 1.
In addition to adding the list’s only new universities, China saw its domination of the list increase slightly, from 25 institutions in 2017 to 27 in 2018. They’ve done this by increasing their patent input dramatically. In 2016 ranked Chinese institutions filed an average of 128 patents during the list’s five year window; in 2018, they filed 160.
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