Reuters has released a ranking of Europe's 100 most innovative universities. The criteria: emphasizing practical research and applied science, inventing new technologies, and contributing to the global economy.
The ten top ranking schools were KU Leuven, Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Erlangen Nuremberg, the Delft University of Technology, the University of Oxford, the University of Munich, and the University of Zurich.
The country with the highest number of innovative universities turned out to be Germany with 24. The United Kingdom came in second, with 17, a number which includes the two oldest English-speaking universities — Oxford and Cambridge. The Republic of Ireland had the most innovative universities per capita, with fewer than 5 million people and three of the top 100 universities.
Most of the universities (60%) are in Western Europe. 24 are in Northern Europe, and 15 are in Southern Europe. According to Globe Newswire, Eastern Europe only has one university on the list: Poland's Jagiellonian University. Only five on the list are in non-European Union countries, with four in Switzerland and one in Norway.
The top 100 included no universities from Russia, Turkey, Sweden, or Finland, reports David Ewalt of Reuters.
Number one on the list is KU Leuven, a Dutch-speaking university in the Flanders region of Belgium. Pope Martin V founded it in 1425, making it the world's oldest Catholic university. However, its mission is now secular and independent from the church, and it is open to students of all faiths. It has one of the largest research and development organizations in the world. In 2014, their research spending topped 426 million EUD, and they submit more patents than almost every other European university.
Imperial College London, ranked number two, used to be the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and split off from the University of London (#30 on the list) in 2007. Now, the public research university has more than 16,000 students from 125 countries.
The Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne split off from the University of Lausanne in 1968. Now, it's a federal institute that grants admission to any high school graduate of Switzerland. Its innovation park houses companies like Nestle and Siemens as well as new start-ups, according to the Local.
The Technical University of Munich in Germany ranked #5. It was founded in 1868 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, with the intention of transforming Germany from an agricultural to an industrial nation. Now it has three locations (Munich, Freising-Weihenstephan and Garching) and almost 40,000 students. Thirteen of its professors and alumni have won Nobel Prizes since 1927, including Rudolf MÃ¶ssbauer in 1961 and Ernst Otto Fischer in 1973.
To make the decisions on the rankings, the IP and Science division of Thomson Reuters picked out 600 organizations worldwide that publish the most academic research, reports Ciaran Sneddon of the Courier. Then, each was evaluated on 10 different metrics including academic papers and patent filings. Then they trimmed the list down to only 100 universities and then ranked them by performance.
The creators of the ranking note that since it measures university-wide innovation, it may overlook particularly innovative programs within a university.