The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is the only UK institution to feature in new rankings of the world’s most innovative universities.
It is the joint top institute in the world in the proportion of its academic papers cited in patent applications – one of four ‘innovation indicators’ used by Times Higher Education and Elsevier to compile the rankings.
The new rankings measure the success of university-industry collaboration, complementing Times Higher Education’s REF2014 league table of academic excellence, which the ICR also topped.
Across the innovation measures overall, US and China dominate the new list, with 19 separate institutes. From mainland Europe, France has the most with four.
On the patent citation score, the ICR ranked first alongside the US Scripps Research Institute and VIB (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie) in Belgium.
In three other categories based on direct collaboration with and income from industry, the top institutes were Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, Southwest Petroleum University in China, and the Russian Siberian State University of Geosystems and Technologies.
A separate analysis by the ICR last year of figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency also ranked it as the most successful higher education institution in the UK at earning invention income from its research.
In the 2013/14 academic year the ICR received more than £20 million in invention income – an average of more than £34,000 per academic staff member, once the figures are adjusted for staff headcount.
This placed it first among UK higher education institutions for income from intellectual property in figures adjusted for size, behind only the much larger University of Oxford in absolute terms.
The ICR, University of Oxford, University of Belfast, University of Cambridge, and University of Leeds were the top five for size-adjusted income.
The ICR works in close collaboration with industry to accelerate its scientific discoveries into treatments for patients. It has a dedicated Enterprise Unit which co-ordinates interaction between ICR academics and industry.
It has a focus on taking early risks on highly innovative approaches – for instance in basic research studies on understanding the mechanisms underlying cancer, and in discovering drugs acting on new biological targets. Since 2005, it has taken eight new drugs into clinical trials and seen the prostate cancer drug abiraterone approved for widespread use worldwide.
The ICR’s close partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust is also a crucial factor in its success, helping it to fulfil its ‘bench to bedside’ approach to developing new treatments, including through clinical trials of new drugs.
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive at the ICR, said: “I’m delighted that the ICR has come joint top on this measure of global innovation – since innovation is what's needed to convert scientific discoveries into benefit for people with cancer.
“To be the only UK institution on the list highlights the success of our model of research, which is focussed on turning our discoveries into new treatments for cancer. The biggest breakthroughs in cancer research are going to come through being innovative, rather than simply producing variations on what we already have.”