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From quantum computers to better wheelchair technology, innovators at the University of Pittsburgh are always pushing boundaries. Now, a new ranking confirms what Pitt people have long known: we’re among the top 20 most innovative universities nationwide.
According to a new list from the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), Pitt ranks No. 16 for U.S. universities granted utility patents in 2022.
Pitt innovators earned 105 of these patents in 2022, just behind the University of Pennsylvania at 108 and far surpassing other Pennsylvania universities on the list, including Carnegie Mellon University at No. 37, Penn State University at No. 51, Drexel University at No. 57 and Temple University at No. 75.
Drawing from data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the list focuses specifically on utility patents, which offer protection to inventors for new processes, machines or other innovations.
And although patents are one way to measure innovation, Pitt is committed to growing an even bigger invention and discovery ecosystem, according to Evan Facher, vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and associate dean for commercial translation at the Pitt School of Medicine.
“While obtaining intellectual property protection is a major achievement, it is only one step on the journey to impact,” said Facher. “We are pleased that more and more Pitt innovators are engaged in commercialization journeys, taking advantage of the expanding resources and funding offered through the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) and its partners, both across the University and with industry and other external organizations.”
For instance, innovators can find resources about commercialization through Pitt’s Innovation Institute or an NSF I-Corps commercialization training program. It also provides a number of chances for innovators to secure funding for their work: One upcoming opportunity is the Michael G. Wells Healthcare Competition, offering $40,000 in awards to advance innovations on the path to impact.
For those further down the commercialization path, the Innovation Institute has recently launched the Pitt Ventures Startup Academy, which provides 360-degree support for innovators ready to launch a startup company based on their Pitt-developed intellectual property. More Pitt innovators are also partnering with industry through sponsored research in collaboration with the Office of Industry and Economic Partnerships, another unit of the OIE.
Such opportunities reflect a growing culture of entrepreneurship at Pitt, which has been climbing the rankings in the NAI’s Top 100 Worldwide Universities list, offered since 2013 (Pitt placed 22nd on that list this year). This is the first year the NAI has offered the more focused list of U.S. universities as well.
“Innovation has always been at the heart of U.S. culture and the Top 100 U.S. Universities list allows us to recognize and celebrate the commitment these universities have to the American tradition of invention and protection of [intellectual property],” said Jamie Renee, executive director of NAI.
— Mike Yeomans and Patrick Monahan, photography by Aimee Obidzinski