A leader in Germany and one of the best internationally: FAU among the world's top 100 most innovative universities
FAU is ranked second in Germany in the list of the most innovative universities and comes in at place 52 in the global comparison. The American-Canadian media company Reuters has published its first ranking of world universities based on their level of innovation. This was measured mainly on the basis of the number of patents filed, as well as the number of publications – including those resulting from collaboration in industry.
‘Innovation’ is one of the most frequently used buzzwords in academia and in business. It can refer to many things: that a company regularly produces new ideas or products, that its business strategy is unconventional, or simply that its employees are encouraged to broaden their horizons and develop creative ideas.
But how can innovation be measured? To answer this question in the context of higher education, Reuters examined 500 universities from all over the world that had the highest number of publications in academic journals and developed a method of evaluation that considered ten different parameters, including academic publications, patent applications, and joint development projects with industry.
The top spots in the international ranking are held by the usual candidates, with Stanford University in first place in the top 100, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in second and Harvard University in third. FAU was very successful, coming it at place 52 overall, ahead of other renowned German universities.
FAU’s research focuses intensely on issues that pose a challenge to society in the 21st century. It covers topics from across the spectrum of academic disciplines, from energy research into reactions to climate change, medical engineering or optical research dealing with challenges in healthcare, to topics such as human rights, language and religion, or societies in the Middle East and Asia. The latter is particularly relevant for current topics such as growing markets like China, asylum policy and intercultural discussion between religions. The success of the University’s research projects in these areas can be seen in the resulting patents, products and innovative developments in industry.
Nevertheless, for FAU President Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger it is not simply about generating development projects with industry. On the contrary, he explains, ‘It is important for us to pick up on issues in society and industry, and to see whether they are suitable for academic research projects – not development projects. We also place great importance on the education of our young researchers and our students. We want them to learn that they can make a difference, even if they aren’t professors yet.’
FAU filed around 200 patents between 2012 and 2014, and has supervised around 50 spin-off companies over the past five years. The University works on joint research projects with large international companies such as Siemens and adidas on topics such as renewable energies, healthcare and medical technology, or new materials.
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