Rating Universities On Innovation & Knowledge

Rating Universities On Innovation & Knowledge

A growing number of global universities are putting innovation at the heart of their missions. These innovations help grow economies, enhance quality of life and tackle major societal challenges.

Universities with strong industry partnerships equip students with in-demand skills and a network of connections, making them more employable. They also create innovative spaces and labs to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

1. Research

Research is a way to deepen humanity’s understanding of the physical and social world around us. This is achieved through a number of different methods. For example, multidisciplinary research brings experts together from a range of fields to ask and answer questions that are not easily approached by a single discipline alone.

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It can also involve a particular aim, such as experimental development or a client-driven purpose. Research can also be iterative, with findings from one study leading to new questions and further exploration. There are some that argue that innovation and research are mutually exclusive. However, this is not necessarily true. Innovations such as new green energy technologies could help to tackle climate change; faster tests for diseases may mean that pandemics can be more quickly stopped.

2. Teaching

Teaching is often overlooked when it comes to fostering innovation. But in fact, it’s a vital part of the equation. Teachers who encourage students to think creatively and problem solve are more likely to see their innovations have real world impact.

Research universities should aim to provide students with the skills they need to be able to apply their knowledge to real-world challenges. This includes teaching entrepreneurship, connecting students to internships and research opportunities, and creating spin-off companies to give students hands-on experience.

This isn’t easy. Academic disciplines are siloed, and many university leaders are uncomfortable with the idea of breaking down those walls. But the rewards are considerable.

3. Innovation

When people think of innovation, they often imagine a new gadget that has just hit the market. However, innovation is much more than that. It is a broad concept that involves developing new products, services, processes, and business models to create value for customers.

This process involves a lot of knowledge, which is why it’s important for companies to develop a system that helps employees to learn and develop their skills. One way to do this is by encouraging a culture of innovation, which allows employees to take risks and challenge the status quo.

The innovation process can be a long one and it’s often necessary for different groups to work together. For example, in the technology-nurturing stage it may be useful to have a group that focuses on knowledge accumulation while another group concentrates on transferring this information into the market place.

4. Impact

Impact is a long-term change that can be positive or negative, intended or unintended. It includes the impact of an action or programme and encompasses the wider societal impacts a programme might have, for example on social wellbeing or the economy.

Unlike training metrics such as the number of people trained and the learning modality, senior leaders care more about impact data. This is because they want to know how training is driving performance and business results.

Alignment on how impact is defined allows the training team to be a part of the decision-making process for what matters. It also creates equity in ownership and manages expectations for the training team. This removes the risk that decisions around impact are made by a singular group without the consent and involvement of business partners.

5. Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is the process by which one person or group shares their information with another, either inside or outside of an organization. It can help a company find and implement new ideas, as well as increase productivity and innovation.

Explicit knowledge includes written documents such as SOPs, marketing reports and how-to guides. Sharing this type of formal knowledge can speed up product development and boost teamwork.

Tacit knowledge is the information that comes from life experiences, personal and professional. It can’t be easily shared and is harder to identify. Research shows that performing efficient knowledge transfer is important for companies and organizations to survive. It encourages innovation, stimulates creativity and can reduce customer dissatisfaction issues. This can be achieved by training sessions, coaching, mentoring and documentation.

6. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a proactive process that allows businesses to adapt quickly and outmanoeuvre rivals in dynamic markets. Innovative practices give entrepreneurs the ability to create solutions to challenges that their customers face, fuelling business growth and boosting customer satisfaction.

Successful entrepreneurs expand the economic pie for everyone, creating jobs and increasing the standard of living. They also generate new products and services, including software that improves human productivity and enhances our quality of life.

Entrepreneurial skills include opportunity recognition and exploitation, entrepreneurship initiative, and risk-taking. They are often influenced by individual traits and attitudes, such as creativity, resilience, and the motivation to create something new. They are also influenced by their interactions with others, including employees and colleagues. In particular, social astuteness can positively impact entrepreneurial opportunity recognition (Chandler and Hanks, 1994).

7. Community

A community is bound together by common interests, such as geographic (same street, town ward or neighborhood), social (race, religion, culture, age or art) or economic (microfinance, workplace). Communities are often nested within each other and share overlapping boundaries.

The success of a university’s spin-off companies can also elevate its reputation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. In fact, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings award institutions maximum points if they have established five or more successful spin-off companies over the past five years.

The results show that the US’s share of the world’s top universities is declining, with East Asian nations and universities in the Middle East on the rise. It’s a time of shifting geopolitics, with the power to drive global knowledge creation and innovation increasingly resting with new players.


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