The 2016 ranking of the 10 most innovative universities in the world

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Students study on the Stanford campus.
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John Loo/Flickr

The US university system is an innovation powerhouse, according to Reuters’ 2016 Top 100 list.

The US claimed 46 of the top 100 universities on the list, followed by Japan with nine and France and South Korea, both with eight universities.

While “innovation” is a ubiquitous buzzword, it can also be a bit ambiguous. Reuters, however, used objective data, like the number of patents and research papers coming out of an institution, to compile the ranking. Read the full methodology here.

See below for the 10 most innovative universities in the world:


10. Northwestern University

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Northwestern University/Facebook

Located in Evanston, Illinois.

• 295 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 45.4% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt


9. KU Leuvan

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Juhanson / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Located in Belgium

• 301 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 37.2% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumnus: CEO of Nestle Paul Bulcke


8. University of Pennsylvania

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Wikimedia Commons

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

• 517 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 33.5% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: American president-elect Donald Trump and American businessman and philanthropist Ron Perelman


7. University of Michigan System

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Facebook/universityofmichigan

Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

• 528 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 46.4% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Charlie Munger and CEO of Uptake Brad Keywell


6. KAIST

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MinkyOh/Wikipedia Commons

Located in South Korea.

• 911 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 83.5% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: South Korea’s first astronaut Yi So-Yeon and co-founder of Korea’s largest gaming company, Nexon, Jungju Kim


5. University of Washington System

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Curtis Cronn / Flickr

Encompasses three campuses in Washington.

• 457 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 37.2% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: former NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar and former Governor of Washington Daniel Evans


4. University of Texas System

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The University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

Encompasses 14 educational institutions in Texas:

• 941 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 36.3% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: CEO of Dell Michael Dell and CEO of National Instruments James Truchard


3. Harvard University

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EllenSeptember/flickr

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

• 824 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 24% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: former CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer and CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein


2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Facebook

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

• 1,289 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 43.8% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: co-owner of Koch Industries Charles Koch and former CEO of CIT Group John Thain


1. Stanford University

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Stanford University/Facebook

Located in Stanford, California.

• 612 patents filed between 2009 and 2014

• 38.6% were subsequently granted

• Notable alumni: cofounder of Google Larry Page and cofounder of PayPal Peter Thiel