For the first time in history, Reuters has included the University of Cincinnati on its annual list of the top 100 most innovative universities in the world.
Reuters, a London-based international news agency, “identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries,” according to its website.
The University of Cincinnati and the Ohio State University are the only two Ohio schools represented on the list. They join other top-tier schools in the U.S., including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.
The rankings are governed by a point system, which accounts for each university’s output and impact of patents, research and journal articles. UC is ranked No. 80, but Reuters said the relative ranking of any university doesn’t provide a complete picture of the total innovation happening at an institutional level.
“Since the ranking measures innovation on an institutional level, it may overlook particularly innovative departments or programs,” the website reads. “A university might rank low for overall innovation but still operate one of the world’s best medical schools, for instance.”
Reuters’ page about UC’s inclusion on the list features UC’s Nanoworld Laboratories’ development of high-tech fabrics for the U.S. military, which could be used in smarter uniforms. The page also mentions that in 2017, UC received more than $193 million in 941 sponsored research awards.
Mark Schulz, professor of mechanical and materials engineering and co-director of Nanoworld Laboratories, said he recognizes the importance of UC’s innovative spirit.
“Innovation underpins our economy,” Schulz said. “UC recognizes this and supports research that leads to being a top 100 innovative research university.”
Schulz said interdisciplinary collaboration and a diverse environment is its greatest driver of innovation.
“An example is the UC Nanoworld Laboratory, which focuses on nanotechnology and smart materials,” Schulz said. “Faculty members from the Colleges of Engineering; Arts and Sciences; Medicine; Design, Architecture, Art and Planning and students from around the world work together in Nanoworld.”
Advancing innovation has been a key priority for UC President Neville Pinto since his arrival on campus. Last year, Pinto hired the university’s first chief innovation officer, David J. Adams. This month, the university officially opened its 1819 Innovation Hub, a campus building designed to establish collaborations between the university and businesses.
Schulz credits the comprehensive nature of the university to how much hands-on experience is built into its degree programs.
“The engineering education department incorporates design innovation into courses,” Schulz said. “Students are required to participate in experiential learning (co-operative education), they can be involved in research and they are encouraged to go to graduate school.”
Despite funding difficulties facing some U.S. universities, Schulz said UC stands above others in its ability to prepare students for post-collegiate life.
“Overall, research and higher education are under-supported in this country,” Schulz said. “However, Cincinnati is tougher than the rest and delivers innovation in education and research, and it produces skilled graduates that become the framework of our society.”