Top 21 innovative universities in the UK

Top of the list, according to a study by Market Inspector, is Imperial College London

Market Inspector has conducted a study to identify the most innovative British universities. Two metrics were taken into account: the number of successful (granted) patents calculated as a yearly average per 1000 students; and the seed funds raised by startups established by graduates of the particular universities, calculated as average funds raised per startup.

The top three innovators are calculated to be:

  1. Imperial College London Ranks first for granted patents, with a yearly average of 1.23 per 1000 students. Average funds raised by startups are £11,873,278
  2. University of Oxford Has a yearly average of 1.13 successful patents per 1000 students, with average funds raised by startups standing at £13,500,450
  3. Queen Mary University of London A yearly average of 0.33 granted patents per 1000 students does not rank highly. However, it is the indisputable number one for successful startups, with average funds raised amounting to £28,352,835

Top 5 universities by patents and startup success rate

When solely taking into account the patents granted between 2011-2016, calculated as a yearly average per 1000 students, the highest scoring universities are: Imperial College London (1.23) , University of Oxford (1.13), University of St Andrews (0.92), University of Cambridge (0.89), and University College London (0.46).

When looking at the patent distribution between 2011-2016 within all 21 top innovative universities, the leading industry is pharma & biotech with 534 registered patents. It is followed by chemicals (249 patents), medical devices and healthcare (199 patents), and agriculture, forestry & food (172 patents).

Besides Queen Mary University of London, other notable institutions raising a significant amount of seed funding are: University of Edinburgh (£18,856,321), University of Warwick (£16,401,962), University of Manchester (£16,131,366), and University of Cambridge (£15,802,363).

2019 will be the ‘Year of Female Innovative Students’

By 2019, according to a study conducted by Reuters, 15 of the 21 top innovative British universities will be dominated by women. The proportions between female and male students will be as follows:


Female Students

Male Students

King’s College London, University of Dundee



University of Edinburgh, University of Leeds



University of St Andrews, University of Glasgow, Cardiff University



University College London



University of Birmingham



Queen Mary University of London, University of Nottingham



University of Manchester, University of Leicester,
University of Surrey



University of Southampton