South Korea dominates list of universities with most research links to industry partners

A young female scientist looks through a microscope in a laboratory. Pic: Chutima Chaochaiya/Shutterstock

South Korean universities are ahead of its global peers when it comes to publishing research in collaboration with industry partners, a new Times Higher Education‘s (THE) report shows.

THE‘s list of universities with the most industry collaborations reveals South Korea has three universities among the top 20 – Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Among them, they have published an impressive total of 64,719 research publications.

Ranking the universities based on the proportion of university’s publications that are industry collaborations, POSTECH emerged at the top spot with 22.98 percent, followed by France’s National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA Lyon) at 18.01 percent and China’s China University of Petroleum at 14.77 percent.

“Korea has one of the highest R&D intensities in the world and a focus on high-tech industries,” said Martin Hemmert, professor of international business at Korea University Business School.

It was South Korea’s history as a poor, agricultural nation just decades ago that has spurred such intense research and development in the country.

Having to play catch-up, many companies not strongly competent in basic research collaborated with universities to “strengthen and augment them”, according to Hemmert.

Samsung has among the most links with these universities, according to a separate table by THE, which ranks the schools publishing the highest proportions of their total research outputs in collaboration with a single corporation.

Nordic power

Scandinavian universities also featured notably on the list, with seven schools in total – four from Sweden, two from Denmark and one from Norway.

They had a total of 118,100 collaborative research publications among them, nearly twice the amount from the three South Korean universities stated earlier.

However, compared to POSTECH’s proportion of school publications that are industry collaborations (22.98 percent), the proportion of such research publications in these Scandinavian universities were at most, only half of POSTECH’s (Norwegian University of Science and Technology at 11.03 percent).

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology earned fourth place on the list, with its collaboration with industrial research offshoot SINTEF, which focuses on solar, wind and hydro power. Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology’s tie-up with Volvo companies on electric and autonomous vehicles, on the other hand, put it at sixth place.

Here are THE‘s top 20 universities with the most industry collaborations:

Rank Institution Country Number of
Proportion of university’s
publications that are
industry collaborations
1 Pohang University of Science and Technology South Korea 13,545 22.98
2 National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA Lyon) France 7,636 18.01
3 China University of Petroleum China 10,607 14.77
4 Norwegian University of Science and Technology Norway 19,310 11.03
5 University of East Anglia UK 12,443 10.23
6 Chalmers University of Technology Sweden 12,658 9.14
7 Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands 14,206 8.96
8 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea 30,406 8.84
9 Institute of Cancer Research UK 6,338 6.88
10 CentraleSupélec France 5,465 6.18
11 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) South Korea 20,768 6.05
12 Grenoble Institute of Technology France 13,249 5.59
13 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden 20,029 5.57
14 Technical University of Denmark Denmark 21,956 5.54
15 KU Leuven Belgium 57,453 5.49
16 University of Copenhagen Denmark 59,238 5.48
17 Sandia National Laboratories US 8,388 5
18 Budapest University of Technology and Economics Hungary 6,228 4.98
19 Karolinska Institute Sweden 43,033 4.87
=20 University of Gothenburg Sweden 23,070 4.7
=20 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute US 8,121 4.7

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