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NTHU Again Leads Taiwan in US Patents
On June 5th the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), both based in the USA, announced the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted US Utility Patents in 2017. NTHU was ranked 23, up two places compared to last year, ranking ahead of such prestigious Asian universities as Tokyo University and Seoul University. NTHU ranked first among all Taiwanese universities; the only university with a higher ranking in greater China was Beijing's Tsinghua University.
 
Every year since 2014, NTHU has had the highest ranking in Taiwan, during which period the school has received 114 US patents, the 11th highest worldwide during this period.
 
According to President Hong Hocheng, NTHU’s high ranking in patents amongst the more than 50,000 universities worldwide is a strong testament to the creativity of its faculty and students and their valuable contributions to the future of industry and to society as a whole. This indicates a strong match between what students learn at NTHU and the actual needs of industry.
 
In 2017 NTHU received 87 US patents; by adding to this figure the patents granted in Taiwan, mainland China, Canada, and South Korea, the total number of patents received by NTHU in 2017 comes to 230. Amongst these, the largest number of patents were received in the areas of pharmaceuticals and biochemistry (54) and materials and chemical engineering (54), followed by electronic machinery (27), mechanical structures (26), and photonics and optics (25).*
 
According to Professor Tseng Fan-gang, the Vice President for Research and Development, the reason NTHU has such a large number of patents in the field of pharmaceuticals and biochemistry is that interdisciplinary researches are being carried out by numerous faculty members working in biotechnology engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, materials, power mechanics, and electrical engineering. In fact, approximately one quarter of NTHU's professors are involved in research related to biomedicine, such as biochips and rapid tests.
 
Last year NTHU obtained a total of 54 patents from the US, Taiwan, South Korea, and China in the fields of materials and chemical engineering. According to Tseng, this is because Tsing Hua founded the first Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Taiwan, and today the breadth and depth of its research are second to none. He said that chemistry and chemical engineering are also Tsing Hua's traditional strengths, so the number of patents in these areas is naturally higher.
 
Applying for and maintaining a patent is expensive. According to Tseng, every year NTHU spends up to NT$50 million on patent application and maintenance fees. To encourage faculty to apply for a patent, the school subsidizes most of the cost for new applications. The faculty member pays only 10% for the initial application and five-year maintenance period, but afterwards this amount increases, so as to encourage him/her to sell or transfer the patent as soon as possible.
 
To help researchers sell their patents, NTHU joined the Global Research & Industry Alliance (GLORIA) last year. According to Tseng, Tsing Hua has appointed five experts from the manufacturing sector to introduce promising patents to manufacturers. Each industry expert is assisted by two translators to help in transferring the patents and evaluating which patents are worth investing in.
 
Five Taiwanese universities with most US patents in 2017

University

World Ranking in 2017 compared to that of 2016

Number of US. patents

Ranking in Taiwan

NTHU

23 (↑2)

87

1

National Taiwan University

48 (↓19)

51

2

National Chiao Tung University

64 (↓20)

41

3

National Cheng Kung University

67 (↑2)

39

4

National Central University

98 (unranked in 2016)

25

5

 
In the 2017 rankings by the NAI and the IPO, NTHU ranked first in Taiwan.

In the 2017 rankings by the NAI and the IPO, NTHU ranked first in Taiwan.

The Tsing Hua Lab (left) and the adjacent Innovation Incubation Center (right).

The Tsing Hua Lab (left) and the adjacent Innovation Incubation Center (right).

 

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