RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) has come fourth on a global list of 100 universities for the number of patents granted in the US last year.
The Dhahran-based institution’s ranking was announced in the annual classification report issued by the US National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
Experts on Thursday described the achievement as an important step in further cementing the university’s position on the global stage as an advanced research center.
KFUPM was granted 225 US utility patents in 2019. The University of California topped the list with 631, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (355) and the University of Texas (276).
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, the Saudi minister of energy and chairman of KFUPM’s board of trustees, said the ranking reflected the university’s strategic methodology in the fields of research and innovation over decades.
Zain Hassan Yamani, director of the university’s Center of Research Excellence in Nanotechnology (CENT), said: “My colleagues and I continue to put our heads, hands and hearts together to invent, innovate and ultimately create products that help our country and humanity at large.
“KFUPM is paving its path to making an economic impact and contributing to human prosperity.
“As a technical school, KFUPM research focuses on five themes, including IR 4.0 (fourth industrial revolution), water and environment, oil and gas, petrochemicals, as well as renewable energy.
“I was blessed to be a co-inventor on four of KFUPM’s 225 utility patents in 2019, inventing nanomaterials relevant to our local economy, specifically the petroleum and petrochemicals industries, with application potential in the fields of catalysis and chemical sensing,” he added.
Abdullah Sultan, KFUPM’s dean of research, said that while the university ranked fourth internationally among higher education institutions for the number of patents issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), over the past 10 years it had developed an ecosystem to translate basic research into products and technologies.
The university established the Dhahran Techno Valley Co., Entrepreneurship Institute (EI), Technology Advancement and Prototyping Center, Technology Commercialization Office, and Innovation Office to support research-to-market initiatives, he added, and was focusing on translational research that directly addressed the Kingdom’s needs while helping to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and beyond.
Mohammed bin Tarjam, a marketing communication consultant and podcast presenter and creator, said KFUPM competed with top US universities in scientific research, with more focus on producing high-quality research.
“Excelling at a highly reliable classification in academia means that support should be given to the transfer and localization of technology and knowledge in the Kingdom, which represents one of the most important themes of Vision 2030,” he added.
Tarjam noted that the Kingdom was taking ambitious strides toward transformation to a knowledge-based economy. Such an economy is based on human resources, including Saudi youths who have graduated from the most prestigious academic institutions inside and outside the Kingdom, he said, adding that this paved the way for entrepreneurship.
Dr. Abdullah Alakeel, an innovation commercialization specialist, said Saudi Arabia was involved in other major innovation and entrepreneurship activities through organizations such as the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology. “In the modern age, research and development centers are instrumental for inventions. Apple, Siemens, and LG all have centers that produce thousands of inventions including phones, cars, and medical equipment which play an important role in our daily lives,” he added.