NUS recognised as regional leader in innovation

NUS has been named one of the most innovative organisations in South and Southeast Asia by research firm Clarivate.

It is the second year running that the University has been recognised by Clarivate, a Thomson Reuters spin-off known for its analytics services covering science and academia.

Clarivate’s ranking weighed factors such as the number of patents, number of citations, patent success rate and the institution’s level of globalisation.

“From our lens, the two things which are important are the uniqueness of the inventions, the acceptance of the technologies, and your investments with respect to truly commercialising it,” said Clarivate Solution Consultant Mr Abhijeet Patil at a virtual awards ceremony held this week.

“If somebody is using your patents to further develop products, it would be a big plus in terms of influence.”

In this regard, the University’s performance has been outstanding. According to Clarivate’s research, NUS produced 639 inventions from 2015 to 2019 and had a patent success rate of 16 per cent, a strong figure given that a large proportion of applications are rejected.

Clarivate applauded the influence of NUS research on the medical, pharmaceutical and bioscience sector and the electronics industry, as well as on other universities which regularly build on NUS inventions to develop their own.

About 20 per cent of NUS inventions are in the medical and pharmaceutical area. The key projects highlighted by Clarivate include the development of:

  • Flexible neural strip electrodes, flexible neural ribbon electrodes and compartment based embedded nerve tissue electrode interfaces for peripheral nerves;
  • Graphene-based membranes;
  • Methods for the multiplex detection of molecules;
  • Decoy cytokine receptors; and
  • Methods for enhancing the efficacy of therapeutic immune cells.

“With respect to the influence, what we are seeing is that for specific industries, a lot of big organisations as well as smaller organisations are getting influenced by NUS technologies,” said Mr Rajat Sikka, Head of the Intellectual Property Group for South Asia and Southeast Asia at Clarivate.

NUS proactively works with industry partners to create intellectual property together through corporate laboratories, noted Professor Chen Tsuhan, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology). For instance, the newly-launched Cisco-NUS Corporate Lab is poised to accelerate Singapore’s digital transformation.

“Accelerating productisation is really the key. That’s what the corporate labs and the IP licensing activities lead towards,” added Professor Subbu Venkatraman, Director at the NUS Industry Liaison Office.

The rapid industry changes caused by COVID-19 and technological advancement have created an opportunity for universities to play an even bigger role in innovation, noted Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise).

“We have seen the importance of investment in both basic and applied research, as well as the university’s role in contributing to the generation of ground-breaking technologies. NUS will continue to actively explore avenues to commercialise our research, to provide impactful solutions for the benefit of society.”

NUS was the only Singaporean university to receive the Clarivate South and Southeast Asia Innovation Awards. The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Universiti Putra Malaysia and the Hanoi University of Science and Technology were among the other regional universities to be recognised.

Clarivate also had categories for government research organisations and corporations. Notable winners include the Agency for Science, Technology and Research; Singapore companies ASM Pacific Technology and KaHa; and Malaysia’s Top Glove Corporation which has sprung to prominence during the pandemic due to its production of medical grade gloves.

Separately, Clarivate runs an annual list of highly cited researchers, which typically feature a host of names from NUS.

The company also hands out the Citation Laureates to honour researchers whose work has been deemed to be of Nobel Class. Professor Barry Halliwell, Senior Advisor (Academic Appointments and Research Excellence) at the NUS Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost, was one of the awardees this year.