The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 318–345 | Cite as

University patenting: a comparison of 300 leading universities worldwide

  • Christian O. Fisch
  • Tobias M. Hassel
  • Philipp G. Sandner
  • Joern H. Block


Despite a worldwide increase in university patenting, empirical studies have largely focused on analyzing university patenting in individual countries and regions. We provide analyses from an international perspective, examining patents at the top 300 universities worldwide. By providing a patent ranking system and an analysis of the determinants of university patenting, we enable an international comparison not only between different countries but also between universities within countries. A ranking of the top-patenting universities shows a huge predominance of US universities: 18 of the top 25 universities are located in the US, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology being ranked first. Our results show that the propensity to apply for patents is very high among US and Asian universities, while European universities lag behind. In addition to the home country, further determinants of university patenting are the quantity of the universities’ publications and a technological focus in areas such as chemistry and mechanical engineering. However, the size of a university and the quality of its publications are not found to be significant determinants.


University patenting Patents Ranking Publishing and patenting 

JEL Classification

O32 O34 O53 O57 I23 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian O. Fisch
    • 1
  • Tobias M. Hassel
    • 2
  • Philipp G. Sandner
    • 2
  • Joern H. Block
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of ManagementTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  2. 2.TUM School of Management Technische Universität MünchenMünchenGermany
  3. 3.Erasmus Institute of Management (ERIM)Erasmus UniversityRotterdamNetherlands

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