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University ranks joint first in the world for Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

The University of Edinburgh has again been ranked among the world’s top universities by The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for its contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings assess the social, environmental and economic impact of universities, ranking their performance against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In the 2024 rankings, The University of Edinburgh achieved joint 1st in the world for its contribution to SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. 

Leaders in innovation 

SDG9 focuses on the need to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation globally. 

The University scored 100 out of 100 for its contribution to this SDG, including its research, patents citing university research, research income from industry and number of University spin outs. Nine universities shared joint first place in this category, in which Edinburgh was the only UK university. 

In 2022/23 over 123 student and staff startups and spinouts were supported through Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, attracting £107.6m of investment. Industrial and translational research projects brought in £91.9m of funding. 

This news is a fantastic reflection of the flourishing culture of innovation here at the University of Edinburgh. 

Teaching and research is at the heart of what universities do. But the reason behind this activity is to create impact and make the world a better place, which we do by working with others in the public, private and third sectors, by forming companies and licensing our intellectual property. 

Supported by Edinburgh Innovations, Edinburgh’s staff and students are translating their ideas and research into solutions that improve lives in areas from climate and environment to data and AI for good and future health and care, and that’s what innovation means to us. Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to placing us first in the world!

Dr Andrea TaylorInterim CEO of Edinburgh Innovations

Making recycling more effective 

One example of industry innovation is clean tech startup Danu Robotics. Founded by data science graduate Xiaoyan Ma, Danu Robotics works with EPCC’s supercomputing capabilities to develop a system to automate waste sorting at recycling plants with speed and accuracy, thereby increasing the quality of output and reducing costs.  

Danu Robotics: machine learning for efficient and effective recycling 


Xiaoyan Ma of Danu Robotics
Xiaoyan Ma of Danu Robotics

Whole-university approach to sustainability 

The University’s overall ranking for its contribution to the SDGs was 89th out of 1,963 institutions, placing it in the top 5% of universities globally. 

This reflects the University’s whole-institution approach to sustainability which is deeply embedded in our research and innovation, our teaching, operations, investments and the values and passion of our people. 

It is encouraging to see our work to contribute to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals recognised in this way. To rank joint first in the world for industry, innovation and infrastructure is a huge achievement and testament to the tenacity and creativity of our staff, students and partners. I am incredibly proud of our ability to harness our research power to drive innovation and directly benefit society. By working together, we are making  great strides to lead change and help tackle some of the world's greatest challenges.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor

Find out more 

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024 [External] 

Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh 

Edinburgh Innovations 

Research and Innovation Strategy 2030