Europe's most innovative universities 2019 revealed
Reuters Top 100: Europe’s Most Innovative Universities 2019 announced. Source: Shutterstock

Have you heard of the digital revolution? Well, you better had, because you’re currently living in it.

From the Internet of Things (IoT) to SaaS, 5G and cloud computing, you best believe that 2019 is the year of innovation.

More than just a buzzword, innovation is the heartbeat of our contemporary world. It’s the application of ideas to improve life as we know it. It’s building value. It’s staying relevant in times that are fast-paced and constantly evolving.

Innovation is everywhere – including every facet of global higher education. And as Rick Beyer, managing partner of Miles Howland Education Partners told Forbes in 2014, the future of higher education depends on innovation.

“In a way it’s actually simple: Technology and innovation are creating increasingly attractive alternatives to existing systems of education, and consumers are learning how to take advantage of those,” Beyer explains.

“Right now, some measure of college participation is driven by habit – by the simple inertia that causes us to behave the way we’ve always behaved. But the many, many educational innovations that are developing around us are changing consumer habits. Slowly at first, perhaps, but at a rapidly increasing pace.  And in my thinking, this is building the foundation for a deflationary effect on tuition prices. It’s kind of a bubble in reverse, if you will.”

Innovation is a big deal in the university sphere, boosting engagement, widening accessibility and enriching diversity at a speed never seen before in the sector. Through the likes of Horizon 2020 – a huge innovation research fund worth €80 billion – among other impactful strategies, Europe is a driving force behind global innovation. And now, Reuters Top 100 fourth annual ranking has revealed Europe’s most innovative universities 2019.

Despite political unrest across the continent, European innovation has remained relatively stable, with Germany boasting the most university representatives than any other country, followed by the UK, then France.


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If you graduate from @kuleuven with honours, you should be allowed to live in Arenberg Castle 😍🏰😂

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According to Reuters, all institutions featured in the ranking produce original research, create useful technology and advance the global economy. Every year since the conception of the Top 100 ranking, KU Leuven has topped the list. In 2019, the institution reigns once more.

As the Belgian university notes on its website, every programme at this progressive school is based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors. Patents filed by KU Leuven’s faculty are consistently cited by other researchers in their filings – a key criterion in Reuters‘ methodology.

Developed in partnership with Claritive Analytics, the rankings compiled a list of more than 600 universities with the highest output of published research papers. Next, they analysed each candidate on 10 separate metrics, homing in on patent filings and citations before ranking each institution on performance.

Germany’s University of Erlangen Nuremberg climbs three spots to number 2, knocking Imperial College London (ICL), the University of Cambridge and Switzerland’s EPFL down to 3rd, 4th and 5th, respectively.

The UK’s UCL – known as London’s global university – jumps up five places to number 6, standing as one of two new institutions in Europe’s top 10, alongside the University of Zurich at number 9 – up four from last year’s list.

The Technical University of Munich – dubbed the Entrepreneurial university – slips one place down to number 7, while the University of Manchester in the UK drops one place to number 8, while ETH Zurich maintains its position at number 10.

Reuters cites just one university as new entry to the list this year’s Top 100: the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTSU), sweeping in at number 56.

As the largest university in Norway with a history dating back to 1910, NTSU’s social mission is to create knowledge for a better world and deliver solutions that can change and improve everyday life. So impactful is this university’s research that two of its researchers have received the Nobel Prize and are globally-revered.

With 23 representatives featured in the top 100 – the same number as last year – Germany accounts for more innovative universities than any other country in Europe. With 21 institutions making the list and no change from 2018, the UK comes close 2nd, followed by France, with 18 universities making the grade.

The Netherlands came in 4th with nine universities, followed by Belgium with seven, Spain and Switzerland with five, Italy with four, Denmark with three, Norway with two, then Austria and Ireland with one.

“Amid the uncertainty caused by a still-pending Brexit, British institutions show a general performance decline among the Top 100, whilst the positions of German and Dutch universities on the list are, on average rising,” Reuters concludes.

“While Reuters’ ranking includes some historical data that predates the 2016 European Union referendum, experts suggest these trends could reflect the first wave of researchers leaving the UK in favor of more stable institutions on the continent.”

Top 25 in the Reuters Top 100: The most Innovative European Universities 2019:

University Country Total Patents Filed Success Rate Commercial Impact Score
KU Leuven Belgium 305 40% 43.3
University of Erlangen Nuremberg Germany 238 52.1% 51.2
Imperial College London UK 317 33.4% 34.4
University of Cambridge UK 207 38.6% 31.4
EPFL Switzerland 235 39.6% 51.8
University College London UK 240 30% 38.4
Technical University of Munich Germany 191 40.8% 40.5
University of Manchester UK 133 29.3% 28.0
University of Zurich Switzerland 167 34.1% 35.8
ETH Zurich Switzerland 305 29.5% 42.7
Heidelberg University Germany 158 35.4% 34.4
University of Oxford UK 482 27.8% 42.3
Technical University of Denmark Denmark 379 28.5% 36.4
Leiden University Netherlands 73 50.7% 41.0
University of Paris Sud – Paris 11 France 170 54.7% 39.2
Delft University of Technology Netherlands 147 73.5% 37.6
University of Montpellier France 187 70.6% 27.9
University of Paris Descartes France 219 32.9% 56.1
University of Basel Switzerland 69 30.4% 35.5
University of Munich Germany 100 40% 36.9
King’s College London UK 100 29% 34.8
Sorbonne University France 383 44.6% 31.7
Free University of Berlin Germany 105 33.3% 39.3
University of Bordeaux France 205 54.6% 41.4
Utrecht University Netherlands 74 41.9% 34.6

Click here to view the full list of the Reuters Top 100: The most Innovative European Universities 2019.

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