Innovation Drives Sustainability: UoMIF’s Impact in the 2024 Times Higher Education Rankings

The University of Manchester has once again demonstrated its exceptional commitment to social and environmental responsibility, securing the top position in the UK and Europe, and ranking second globally in the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings.

As the commercial arm of the university, we take immense pride in our role in driving innovation and sustainability through the licensing of IP to third parties and the creation of spinout companies to address critical industry challenges, foster economic growth, and contribute to the advancement of sustainable practices.

Through these initiatives, we ensure that cutting-edge research and groundbreaking technologies developed at the University of Manchester reach the market, creating real-world impact and promoting a resilient and inclusive industrial ecosystem.

Purple graphic showing 2024 Times Higher Education Impact ratings - University of Manchester

A university’s total score in a given year is calculated by combining the score in SDG 17 with the best three results on the remaining 16 SDGs. For The University of Manchester in 2024 this was:

  • SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (overall 1st in world) – 26% of score
  • SDG12 Responsible Production & Consumption (overall 7th in world) – 26% of score
  • SDG15: Life on Land (overall 1st in world) – 26% of score
  • SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals (mandatory, overall 30st in world) – 22% of score

Innovation at the Heart of Sustainable Development

At the Innovation Factory, we are dedicated to transforming groundbreaking research into real-world applications that address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our work aligns closely with several SDGs, including SDG9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, where the University is recognised as a world leader due to the number of patents citing university research and the success of our spinouts, which are making significant impacts across various industries.

Driving SDG9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

SDG9 aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation. Within this goal we are measured on the creation of successful spinouts and the number of patents generated through University research, both of which we scored in the 100th percentile. Screenshots from the full THE Impact Rankings report below:

Patents citing university research (15.4% of SDG9). This is defined as the number of patents from any source that cite research conducted by the university. The data is provided by Elsevier and relate to patents published between 2018 and 2022 (not research published between these dates). Patents are sourced from the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the European Patent Office, and the patent offices of the US, the UK and Japan. The data is normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

University spin-offs/spinouts (34.6% of SDG9). University spin-offs are defined as registered companies set up to exploit intellectual property that has originated from within the institution. This metric looks at spin-offs that were established on or after 1 January 2000. They must have been established at least three years ago and still be active. The data is provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Here’s a handful of our projects in our portfolio that contribute directly to SDG9, amongst others:

Watercycle Technologies: Sustainable Lithium Extraction. Watercycle Technologies has pioneered a direct lithium extraction (DLE) process, winning an Innovate UK grant to further develop this technology in Cornwall. This project exemplifies our commitment to sustainable industry practices and technological innovation. Read more.

PhovIR – Revolutionising Material Analysis with Advanced NIR Technology. PhovIR is at the forefront of a technological revolution, transforming the way we interact with and understand the material world. At its heart is a sophisticated Near-Infrared (NIR) optical sensor small enough to integrate into handheld devices. It enables precise and comprehensive material analysis right at your fingertips. Read more.

Plant Organelle Technologies Ltd : Technologies to Rapidly Improve Plant Traits. Plant Organelle Technologies, formerly EvoPlant, has developed a targeted technique which has the potential to improve photosynthesis, drought tolerance and herbicide resistance. Read more.

FOTENIX – The Future of Farming. Fotenix has developed a cutting-edge imaging system and analytical software to help growers and farmers transform their fields. Read more.

VisionChip – A Revolutionary Low-Power, High-Speed Machine Vision Device with Integrated Image Sensors. VisionChip represents a breakthrough in machine vision technology, integrating low-power, high-speed image sensors to execute a variety of vision algorithms directly on the sensor chip. Read more.

Man (Tim Echtermeyer, PhovIR) examines chip in lap, close up wearing lab attire

Tim Echtermeyer, Founder of PhovIR

Spinouts Making a Difference

Our University of Manchester spinouts are a testament to the university’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals. By fostering a supportive environment for entrepreneurship, we have facilitated the creation of companies that tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society today. These spinouts are not only commercially successful but also contribute significantly to the SDGs, seen in full below:


Pioneering Patents for a Sustainable Future

One of the other pillars of our success is the generation of high quality patents that emerge from the University’s cutting-edge research. These patents are not just intellectual achievements; they represent practical solutions to global challenges. From advanced materials that reduce environmental footprints to biotechnologies enhancing soil microbial diversity, our patents are integral to sustainable development.

You can explore the rest of our portfolio, showcasing solutions to a diverse breadth of global issues, here.

For more information about how we are contributing to sustainable development, head over here and follow us on social media.