Reuters’ Top 20 Most Innovative Universities in Europe

Reuters have named Belgium’s KU Leuven as Europe’s Most Innovative University for a third consecutive year.

All programs at the institution are centered around the innovative research of its scientists and professors, which may well have contributed towards their formidability up to this point in Reuters European rankings.

Reuters suggested that, “KU Leuven earned its first-place rank, in part, by producing a high volume of influential inventions”.

This ranking relied upon data compiled by Clarvite Analytics and several of its research platforms. An initial list, of approximately 180 academic and government European organizations, were shortlisted to those who had filed 50 or more patents within the analyzed time frame.

The remaining institutions were ranked against ten research metrics – including ‘Patent Volume’ and ‘Patent Success’.

This year’s top 20 universities


2018 2017 Institution Name Country
1 (-) 1 KU Leuven Belgium
2 (-) 2 Imperial College London United Kingdom
3 (-) 3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
(+1) 5 Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) Switzerland
5 (+1) 6 University of Erlangen Nuremberg Germany
6 (-2) 4 Technical University of Munich Germany
7 (+9) 16 University of Manchester United Kingdom
8 (+4) 12 University of Munich Germany
9 (+5) 14 Technical University of Denmark Denmark
10 (+1) 11 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich Switzerland
11 University College London United Kingdom
12 (-4) 8 Delft University of Technology Netherlands
13 (-4) 9 University of Zurich Switzerland
14 (-4) 10 University of Oxford United Kingdom
15 (+10) 25 University of Basel Switzerland
16 (-1) 15 Montpellier University France
17 (-) 17 Leiden University Netherlands
18 (-11) 7 Pierre and Marie Curie University France
19 (+1) 20 Paris Descartes University France
20 (+7) 27 Heidelberg University Germany


Click here to see how the top 20 most innovative institutions in Europe ranked in our QS World University Rankings 2019 – released June 6th – to get an idea of how innovation may correlate with overall ranking.

Findings and Analysis 

  • Of the top 20 most innovative institutions in Europe, the United Kingdom were most heavily represented with five entrants (Imperial 2nd, Cambridge 3rd, Manchester 7th, UCL 11th, Oxford 14th).
  • However, it has been suggested that the UK’s higher education sector could lose out on EU funding for research and innovation once Brexit takes affect, which could have consequent affects on national innovation and in the context of future Reuters’ rankings too.
  • Switzerland and Germany were the joint second most represented nations, with four institution’s ranking among the top 20 respectively.
  • France saw the greatest regression in this year’s top 20 compared with last year’s, with their institutions falling a collective 11 places.
  • Despite the UK’s predominance in the top 20, a broadened look at the rankings suggests that Germany are the leading nation in terms of number of institution’s represented, with 23 in the Top 100.

Innovation and patents in higher education are also recognized at the annual Reimagine Education Conference. It provides a platform that acknowledges and rewards those most successful in creating transformational, educational initiatives.

If you would like to know more about how innovation and technology is impacting higher education, read our Reimagine Education White Paper here.

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