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South Korean universities lead way on industry collaboration

By David Schwartz
Published: March 14th, 2017

New data released by Times Higher Education puts a spotlight on the universities worldwide with the highest proportions of research output completed with industry partnerships, and South Korean universities are among the world leaders.

Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), founded by Korean steel company POSCO in 1986, took the top spot, according to the data, with 23% of its publications coming via such links.

Also in the top ten is South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), ranked eighth largely on the strength of its relationship with Samsung. That alliance is so far-reaching that some describe the company as having “acquired” the university.

The UK’s University of East Anglia and Institute for Cancer Research figure in the top 10, in fifth and ninth places respectively, and Scandinavia also scored highly. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, through its industrial research offshoot SINTEF — which focuses on solar, wind and hydro power – landed in fourth place, while Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, which works closely with Volvo on electric and autonomous vehicles, is in sixth.

South Korean universities publishing in collaboration with Samsung, the Korean multinational electronics conglomerate, dominate a separate table of the universities publishing the highest proportions of their total research outputs in collaboration with a single industrial partner.

Those collaborations represent seven of the top 14 in terms of links with individual companies, responsible for between 2% and 5% of those universities’ total research outputs.

The fact that South Korea was a poor, agriculture-based economy until the early 1960s and has since undergone an industrial miracle may be one of the explanations for its strength in university-industry collaboration.

The report comes on the heels of a major scandal in South Korea involving Samsung, which led to the recent impeachment and removal of the nation’s president. The company’s acting head has been indicted on charges including bribery and embezzlement.

Here is the complete top ten from the Times Higher Education report:

Rank Institution Country Proportion of publications that are industry collaborations
1 Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) South Korea 22.98
2 National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon (INSA Lyon) France 18.01
3 China University of Petroleum China 14.77
4 Norwegian University of Science and Technology Norway 11.03
5 University of East Anglia UK 10.23
6 Chalmers University of Technology Sweden 9.14
7 Eindhoven University of Technology Netherlands 8.96
8 Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) South Korea 8.84
9 Institute of Cancer Research UK 6.88
10 CentraleSupélec France 6.18

Source: Times Higher Education

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