Stanford University. The Hoover Tower rises above Stanford University in Palo Alto, California REUTERS/Noah Berger.
INTERNATIONAL - For the fourth year running, Stanford University tops Reuters’ ranking of the World’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that identifies and ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries.

Contributing to its solid foothold at No.1 is Stanford’s steady stream of patents and research, which are frequently cited by other academics around the world. Those citations play a key role in the ranking of the world’s most innovative universities, which was compiled in partnership with Clarivate Analytics, and is based on proprietary data and analysis of numerous indicators including patent filings and research paper citations.

Recent Stanford research highlights include several developments in the field of artificial intelligence, including the next generation of camera systems to guide self-driving cars and simulators that can predict potential drug interactions before new pharmaceuticals are ever tested on humans.

2. MIT. A man walks through Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. May 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
MIT. A man walks through Killian Court at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

While a few UK and Asian schools have ascended, American universities continue to dominate the top of Reuters’ ranking. 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, places second on the list, and Harvard University comes in third, making 2018 the fourth consecutive year that those universities have held those exact spots. 

The University of Pennsylvania came in fourth place for the second consecutive year, and the University of Washington is up two spots to round out the top five. 

The University of Texas System placed sixth. Belgium’s KU Leuven, ranked No. 7, is the highest ranked university outside the US, followed by Imperial College London (No. 8), the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (No. 9) and Vanderbilt University (No. 10). Overall, eight of last year’s 10 highest-ranked universities remained in the top 10.

Other universities on Reuters’ ranking have broken out of the pack because of new, groundbreaking research. 

The biggest mover on this year’s list is the University of Manchester, which surged 27 places from No. 80 to No. 53, largely because of research into the supermaterial graphene. 

Graphene is one of the strongest materials on Earth, yet also extremely light, flexible and highly conductive; it could prove a hugely important ingredient for future innovations in electronics, energy, transportation and other industries. 

Physicists theorised the existence of graphene in the 1940s, but it was first produced in 2004 by two University of Manchester scientists. 

Ever since then the university has dominated the world’s research into the cutting-edge material. 

Manchester is home to the UK’s National Graphene Institute, and patents related to graphene account for about a quarter of all filings from the university over the five-year period examined for this list.