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

May 18, 2023
The heart of innovation. SFU building in the city of Surrey, home to its School of Sustainable Engineering, was constructed in 2019 and earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. SFU ranks first in Canada for innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and industrial application in global ranking system.

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.

“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, SFU’s associate vice-president, knowledge mobilization and innovation.

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.

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 School of Business’s Invention to Innovation (i2I) program; The Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship; Coast Capital Venture Connection at SFU; 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.

The Government of Canada's Research Support Fund (RSF) and its associated Incremental Project Grants (IPG) funding stream supports innovation at SFU through funding towards innovation and commercialization activities, intellectual property, knowledge mobilization, and research facilities.

Learn more about SFU’s innovation strategy. Visit sfu.ca/innovates.

In this year’s WURI rankings, international university presidents and other evaluators recognized SFU for the following innovative research facilities in a title-blind evaluation process.


SFU core facility 4D LABS is a one-stop shop for the materials science and engineering needs of its academic and industry clients. The team helps its clients develop products and solve problems at any scale. They work hand-in-hand with its partners from communities, industry, the public sector and academia to answer vital questions and to help them translate their scientific knowledge into innovative solutions that benefit our society and help grow their respective industries.

SFU’s Big Data Hub

Data is the fuel powering the fourth industrial revolution. As the volume and complexity of big data grows, so does the demand by industry and government for skills and expertise to translate data into knowledge and action. Another core facility, SFU’s Big Data Hub connects industry, government and academic partners to SFU's expertise to fill a critical talent shortage, generate new knowledge and contribute to an innovative economy. The team provides services to support the big data needs of internal and external SFU partners.