Cream of the crop: Stanford, MIT and Harvard are the world’s most innovative universities
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Cream of the crop: Stanford, MIT and Harvard are the world’s most innovative universities

Cream of the crop: Stanford, MIT and Harvard are the world’s most innovative universities

For the fifth consecutive year, Stanford University, MIT and Harvard topped Reuters’ ranking of the World’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.

Stanford holds onto its top spot year after year because it produces a steady stream of innovations that are cited by other researchers in academia and private industry, a key measure of the ranking of the world’s most innovative universities, which was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, based on proprietary data and analysis including patent filings and research paper citations.

Eight of last year’s 10 highest-ranked universities remained in the top 10, and 18 of the top 20. The highest-ranked university outside the US, Belgium’s KU Leuven (#7), is a nearly 600-year-old institution that maintains one of the largest independent research and development organisations on the planet. The highest-ranked university in Asia is Pohang University of Science & Technology, or POSTECH (#12), an institution founded in 1986 by the South Korean steel company POSCO, noted for its unique ties to industry.

Overall, the United States continues to dominate the list, with 46 universities in the top 100. Germany is the second best performing country with nine universities featured. France climbs to third, with eight universities on the list; Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom each have six; China has four; the Netherlands and Switzerland have three; Belgium, Canada, Israel and Singapore have two, and Denmark has one. Considered on a regional basis, North America has 48 universities in the top 100, Europe has 32 (up five from last year), Asia has 18 (down five), and the Middle East has two. There are no universities in the top 100 located in Africa, South America or Oceania.

France shows the biggest improvement this year, with all its universities making big gains, including new entrants Aix-Marseille Université (#96) and Sorbonne Université (#56). In contrast, Japanese universities continue to lose ground on the global ranking: three Japanese universities dropped off the list in 2019, and the institutions that remained fell an average of 16 places.

For more on the Reuters Top 100, including a detailed methodology and profiles of the universities, visit For reprints, e-prints, logo and accolade licensing, permissions, plaques and other products, please visit

Innovative universities

These innovative universities are research-intensive and highly impactful. Source: Shutterstock

The Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities

Rank Name Country
1 Stanford University USA
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA
3 Harvard University USA
4 University of Pennsylvania USA
5 University of Washington USA
6 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill USA
7 KU Leuven Belgium
8 University of Southern California USA
9 Cornell University USA
10 Imperial College London UK
11 University of Texas System USA
12 Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) South Korea
13 University of California System USA
14 University of Erlangen Nuremberg Germany
15 Johns Hopkins University USA
16 California Institute of Technology USA
17 EPFL – Swiss Federal lnstitute of Technology Lausanne Switzerland
18 University of Cambridge UK
19 Vanderbilt University USA
20 Yale University USA
21 University of Michigan System USA
22 University of Minnesota System USA
23 Duke University USA
24 Northwestern University USA
25 University of Illinois System USA
26 University of Tokyo Japan
27 University of Toronto Canada
28 Columbia University USA
29 Seoul National University South Korea
30 Georgia Institute of Technology USA
31 University College London UK
32 University of Oxford UK
33 University of Colorado System USA
34 Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) South Korea
35 Osaka University Japan
36 University of Wisconsin System USA
37 Baylor College of Medicine USA
38 University of Utah USA
39 University of Chicago USA
40 ETH Zurich Switzerland
41 Tsinghua University China
42 Oregon Health & Science University USA
43 Kyoto University Japan
44 University of Montpellier France
45 Sungkyunkwan University South Korea
46 Technical University of Munich Germany
47 Case Western Reserve University USA
48 Technical University of Denmark Denmark
49 University of Manchester UK
50 Emory University USA
51 University of Zurich Switzerland
52 University of Pittsburgh USA
53 University of British Columbia Canada
54 Ohio State University USA
55 Peking University China
56 Sorbonne University France
57 Kyushu University Japan
58 National University of Singapore Singapore
59 Ruprecht Karl University Heidelberg Germany
60 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
61 Tohoku University Japan
62 Purdue University System USA
63 University of Massachusetts System USA
64 Universite Paris Sud – Paris 11 France
65 Princeton University USA
66 University of Paris Descartes France
67 Nanyang Technological University Singapore
68 Tufts University USA
69 State University of New York System USA
70 Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz Germany
71 Leiden University Netherlands
72 Hanyang University South Korea
73 Rutgers State University New Brunswick USA
74 Tokyo Institute of Technology Japan
75 University of Munich Germany
76 Yonsei University South Korea
77 Universite Claude Bernard – Lyon 1 France
78 Indiana University System USA
79 Dresden University of Technology Germany
80 University of Bordeaux France
81 University of Iowa USA
82 University of Freiburg Germany
83 Boston University USA
84 University System of Maryland USA
85 Wake Forest University USA
86 Zhejiang University China
87 Carnegie Mellon University USA
88 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel
89 RWTH Aachen University Germany
90 University of Connecticut USA
91 Grenoble Alpes University France
92 University of Florida USA
93 Utrecht University Netherlands
94 Technical University of Berlin Germany
95 Tel Aviv University Israel
96 University of Aix-Marseille France
97 University of Virginia USA
98 Ghent University Belgium
99 Kings College London UK
100 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China

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