ASU ranked No. 9 worldwide for US patents in 2023


Gloved hands holding a solar sample.

In the annual Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents list from the National Academy of Inventors, ASU was ranked No. 9 worldwide and No. 7 in the U.S. among universities who secured U.S. patents in 2023, ahead of the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU

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Arizona State University has risen two spots to No. 9 among the world’s top universities for U.S. utility patents issued in 2023, underscoring the university's unwavering commitment to fueling America’s innovation ecosystem and translating cutting-edge research into practical solutions.

In the annual Top 100 Worldwide Universities list released by the National Academy of Inventors on Feb. 15, ASU was in the top 10 along with MIT, Stanford and Harvard. The latest list marked the third timeASU was previously ranked No. 10 in 2018 and No. 8 in 2021. ASU has been in the top 10.

Among U.S. universities, ASU was ranked No. 7, ahead of the California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania.

ASU secured 170 U.S. utility patents in calendar year 2023 — an increase from 160 in 2022 — including patents for a colon cancer treatment that uses a genetically modified bacteria, a test to identify disease-specific antibodies using a wearable device and an environmentally sustainable alternative to cement.

“We are proud that Arizona State University continues to be recognized as one of the top public research universities in the country and in the world,” said Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise.

Graphic reading "#9 worldwide for U.S. patents"

“Being in the top 10 rankings both worldwide and among U.S.-based universities for patent data underscores ASU’s commitment to excellence and innovation. This is a testament to our faculty and staff whose perseverance and ingenuity place ASU at the forefront of supporting real-world solutions that benefit society.”

Paul Sanberg, president of the National Academy of Inventors, said in a statement, “The Top 100 Worldwide list highlights the essential role universities across the globe play in creating patented technologies that beneficially impact society. At the academy, it is important for us to recognize and celebrate research and commercialization happening at the university level, as well as spread awareness on how intellectual property can benefit innovators and their institutions.”

Skysong Innovations, ASU’s exclusive technology transfer and intellectual property management organization, helps translate research into impact by protecting intellectual property developed in ASU labs and negotiating licensing deals with commercial partners who advance the patented technologies and develop solutions for society.

“Technology transfer is all about building bridges between early-stage innovations and go-to-market commercial partners,” said Kyle Siegal, executive director and chief patent counsel of Skysong Innovations. “In fact, a bridge provides a simple but useful analogy. Licensing deals are akin to the horizontal road portion of a bridge. They are the practical part of the partnership that allows an innovation to move from one side of the bridge to the other. Patents, on the other hand, are like the vertical piers that support the road and give people the confidence they need to drive across the bridge.”

Skysong Innovations has secured nearly 1,600 U.S. patents and closed more than 1,450 option or license deals with commercial partners during its years of service to ASU. The organization has facilitated more than 230 ASU startups that have collectively attracted more than $1.3 billion in external funding and generated more than $2 billion in economic impact in Arizona.

ASU has been ranked No. 1 in innovation by U.S. News and World Report for all nine years the category has existed. The university also ranks highly with the Association of University Technology Managers for the number of inventions disclosed, patents secured, licensing deals closed and startups launched.

Examples of patents issued in 2023 for ASU technologies

ASU researchers and scientists developed a multitargeted treatment for colon cancer using genetically modified strains of salmonella that are engineered to detect and destroy tumors and prevent cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth.

The patented technology was developed by Wei Kong, associate research professor in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural DiscoveryLingchen Fu, associate research scientist in the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery; and Yixin Shi, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences.

Another patented technology detects influenza and Epstein-Barr virus antibodies from minute quantities of sweat collected using a wearable device. The technology was invented by Benjamin Katchman, former researcher in the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized DiagnosticsKaren Anderson, professor in the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and the School of Life Sciences; and Jennifer Blain Christen, associate professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.

Researchers in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment invented an alternative to cement, which is used to bind sand and rock together to make concrete. Cement needs are expected to increase as populations grow. It is made by crushing and burning limestone, which has a high CO2 footprint.

ASU researchers found a way to reduce dependence on cement by replacing it with waste plastics that are treated with sustainable oil. This approach can be used as a partial replacement for cement, sand, fine aggregates or a combination thereof in concrete to improve load-bearing strength, ductility and durability. The approach can also reduce shrinkage and cracking in the concrete and reduce the ingress of corrosive chemicals and water. This replacement reduces the weight of the modified concrete and also reduces costs as well the carbon footprint of construction.

School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment researchers named on the patent include Christian Hoover, assistant professor; Elham Fini, associate professor; and Marvin Burton, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Ira. A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in 2022.

In 2023, ASU also secured three U.S. patents for technologies expected to help the Biodesign Institute build the world’s first compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL). The device will enable researchers to conduct novel science to observe biology’s molecular processes in detail — processes that are important for understanding human health and developing new medicines and drugs. It will also help investigators advance renewable energy research, quantum technologies and semiconductor research and manufacturing.

ASU inventors include Bill Graves, chief scientist of the CXFEL Labs, who was named on all three patents, and Mark Holl, chief engineer for the CXFEL Labs, who was named on one of the patents.

The top 100 list is a dynamic list and counts patents with universities listed as an owner regardless of the order in which owners are listed on the patent to provide a more comprehensive look at patents held by universities. The National Academy of Inventors has published the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents list since 2013.

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