University of Dundee

Dundee top in UK for providing ideas behind inventions

10 Aug 2017

University of Dundee research is the best in the UK at influencing innovation, according to a new report published today.

The Nature Index 2017 Innovation supplement sheds new light on the impact academic research is having on innovation by examining how research articles are cited in third-party patents across the world.

By looking at patents owned by third parties – informed by and citing academic work – rather than those held by institutions themselves, the influence of research on the development of products and services is exposed.

The supplement’s tables contain some of the key academic players whose ideas may shape tomorrow’s inventions. Dundee is the only UK university ranked in the global top 50, at 26th place. The University of Cambridge (51st) is the next highest-ranked institution from the UK. The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego was ranked 1st. Thirty-eight of the top 50 places are occupied by institutions in the US.

Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal of the University, said, “This is excellent recognition for the impact of research carried out at Dundee. Earlier this year we were ranked among the 25 most innovative universities in Europe, and first in Scotland. This latest accolade demonstrates how we are contributing to the goal of making Scotland one of the most innovative places to work and to develop a business.

“We are delighted that work carried out at Dundee, across different subject areas and very often involving researchers from disparate disciplines working together, is having such an impact on third-party patents. 

First launched in November 2014, the Nature Index database tracks the author affiliations of research articles published in high-quality natural science journals. The Innovation tables rank institutions by a metric developed by The Lens, a free, open and secure global organisation that creates applications to map the networks of influence of scholarship.

The Normalized Lens Influence Metric provides a measure of the influence an institution’s research has had on innovation by calculating the citations of research articles in patents owned by third parties. The metric has been derived for 200 high performing institutions that appear in the top 100 of at least one of a number of institutional rankings (Nature Index, Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Thomson Innovation or the Leiden Ranking).

From April 2016 to March 2017, 99 University of Dundee papers appeared in the Nature Index – seven in Chemistry, 70 in Life Sciences, 19 in Physical Sciences and three in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

David Swinbanks, founder of the Nature Index, said, “This analysis comes at a time when following the transfer of scientific knowledge into industry and the economy is a growing priority for governments and research funding agencies. For them, the need to demonstrate that publicly funded science is being used for society’s benefit is paramount.

“This innovation supplement is part of a wider effort from the Nature Index to examine new trends in research publishing and its interface with sectors outside of academia.”

Nature Index data is also presented for the 200 institutions ranked by The Lens. For the first time, Nature Index data has been normalised against the total research output of an institution in the natural sciences, as indicated by the number of research articles an institution has published in the Web of Science from Clarivate Analytics. This provides a measure for comparing institutions’ output in the Index relative to their research capacity, which can then be compared to the normalized Lens Metric that similarly takes into account the scale of the institution’s research.

More information about the Nature Index is available at