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Bush Center report ranks Drexel as top mid-sized innovative research university | The Triangle
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Bush Center report ranks Drexel as top mid-sized innovative research university

President Barack Obama addresses President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush during the dedication of the George Bush Presidential Center in 2013. (Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Drexel University added to its accolades last month when it took the spot for most innovative mid-sized research university in a report by George W. Bush Institute and Opus Faveo Innovation Development.

The two organizations released the rankings on June 15 for “The Innovation Impact of U.S. Universities,” which is based on connecting “innovation activities to economic growth and prosperity and provides recommendations for institutions and policymakers,” according to the George W. Bush Center. Numerous colleges were evaluated based on research efforts, productivity levels, entrepreneurship and impact, and Drexel was recognized as a top performer.

“[Drexel] scores far higher than any member of the largest university group,” the report said. “Drexel shows what a university can achieve in innovation impact when it prioritizes innovation throughout the institution and engages broadly in its home city.”

Drexel’s successors in the ranking include the University of New Mexico, Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon University.

The ExCITe Center, the Close School of Entrepreneurship and the University’s stance on technology commercialization were a few of Drexel’s attributes that contributed to the high ranking.

The importance of innovation efforts is second-to-none, according to the George W. Bush Center. Universities in America play a “pivotal role in fueling innovation,” spending nearly $75 billion each year. This figure accounts for 13 percent of the nation’s research and development spending.

“Universities conduct a majority of the country’s basic research, while the private sector largely focuses on product development, which is often reliant on discoveries from basic research [by universities],” the Bush Center explains on its website. “The overall volume and quality of [research and development] activity, in turn, drive the pace of technological progress in the economy as a whole.”

In addition to university rankings, the Bush Center report offers conclusions and advice for schools. Notably, it encourages university leaders to prioritize research, recruit and retain quality researchers, establish an innovative and entrepreneurial culture throughout the school community, engage with local businesses and monitor innovation and impact results.

These recommendations also served as the basis for evaluating each university for “The Innovation Impact of U.S. Universities.” Research efforts for the report also pulled on Google Scholar, Google Patents, the National Science Foundation and the Association of University Technology Managers for data.

The rankings do serve as an essential component of the report, and according to the Bush Center, top-performers like Drexel should be proud of their efforts and the accomplishment.

“Our aim in publishing rankings is to highlight high-performing institutions,” the Bush Center wrote. “Particularly stand-out performers in innovation impact productivity – so that other institutions, as well as policymakers and other leaders, can learn from their example.”

Drexel excelled particularly in the area of teaching. The report applauded the University for the particularly-high number of STEM Ph.D.s it awarded.

As President John Fry said, Drexel continually shows “the spirit of research innovation” and has remained strong, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily impacted research efforts.

“I’m incredibly proud of this much-deserved distinction for our research and innovation enterprise, which shows that the investments we’ve made to build an innovative ecosystem in University City are paying off,” Fry said.