SFU named Canada’s top university for innovation in global WURI rankings

May 18, 2023

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building downtown vancouver

SFU’s Charles Chang Innovation Centre, home of the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship and RADIUS SFU.

Simon Fraser University is Canada’s top university for innovation and industrial application, as well as number two in the world for entrepreneurial spirit, according to the 2023 World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI).

It is the third consecutive year that SFU has ranked as the top university in Canada in the overall innovation category, as well as for the entrepreneurial spirit and industrial application categories. SFU moved up globally among innovative universities to 13th in the world—up from 18th in 2022. SFU is the only Canadian university to break into the top 100 overall.

“I am thrilled at the progress we are making towards our vision of advancing an inclusive and sustainable future,” says SFU president Joy Johnson. “Thank you to WURI for recognizing the contributions of SFU students, faculty and staff who are building a better world through innovation, research, entrepreneurship and social impact.”

The WURI rankings measure how universities make a positive impact on society and highlight creative and innovative approaches to university research and education, based on six ranking categories.

SFU’s Beedie School of Business supports innovation and entrepreneurship at every level of the university through a variety of programs and initiatives. SFU Beedie’s Invention to Innovation (i2I) program is a unique and rewarding entrepreneurship program that helps scientists and engineers commercialize their inventions and overcome marketplace challenges and provides start-up ventures with the essential frameworks, perspectives and techniques to contribute to new product development and commercialization in industry.

Through the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, SFU Beedie develops the entrepreneurial mindset through Canada’s most comprehensive continuum of interdisciplinary and experiential programming. This includes Coast Capital Venture Connection, SFU’s flagship start-up incubator and the longest running entrepreneurship program at SFU, open to students, staff, faculty, and alumni from all disciplines in the SFU community. SFU Beedie’s programs equip aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge and support needed to build solutions for the future.

Also based in the Charles Chang Innovation Centre, SFU RADIUS is a social innovation program co-founded by SFU Beedie alumni that supports individuals and organizations in social ventures by providing mentorship, consulting, and training to maximize positive impact. RADIUS has supported over 176 social ventures to date and provided over $35,000 in social innovation funding for students.

Since 2016, SFU has been advancing its innovation ecosystem through SFU Innovates, the university’s innovation strategy. SFU facilitates partnerships, creates an environment that allows for innovation to thrive and provides multi-way paths to navigate innovation opportunities.

“While we are supporting our researchers’ passion for engaging in and tackling global challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship, we are also helping industry strengthen its science innovation pipeline through SFU’s innovation eco-system,” says Elicia Maine, W.J. VanDusen Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SFU Beedie and associate vice-president, knowledge mobilization and innovation at SFU.

One success story is SFU spinoff company Ionomr Innovations—a clean tech and advanced materials company that had its first intellectual property protected through SFU—which attracted more than $15 million USD in funding in 2022. For the last two years, Ionomr has been named on the Global Cleantech 100, an annual list of the most innovative and promising companies that are advancing net-zero efforts. Before this success, Ionomr was supported by nearly every component of the SFU Innovates ecosystem, including: 4D LABS; SFU Beedie’s i2I program; the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship; Coast Capital Venture Connection; SFU VentureLabs; and SFU’s Technology Licensing Office.

Programs from the SFU innovates ecosystem are supporting innovators across Canada, most notably 4D LABS and Mitacs i2I.

“With our university now consistently recognized as a global leader in impactful innovation for its interdisciplinary and collaborative innovation ecosystem, I am very excited to see where our talented researchers take Canadian invention and innovation over the next several years,” says Maine.