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Agencies at the Forefront

The US Department of Health and Human Services comes in fourth on a list of the world's 25 most innovative government research institutions, Reuters reports.

The list was complied by Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Property & Science division, which analyzed patents and research papers from the last eight years to gauge which government organizations were "most likely to change the world."

The top spot on the list went to France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), followed by Germany's Fraunhofer Society and Japan's Science and Technology Agency. CEA researchers, Reuters notes, apply for and receive more patents than most government researchers. The agency also has spun off some 115 companies since 2000.

The US, though, has the most entrants — six — on the top 25 list, followed by France and Japan which each have four. In addition to HHS, the US Department of Energy, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Navy, the Army, and NASA made the list.

"It took a government agency to put a man on the moon, and even in the age of the Internet, governments are still moving science and technology forward," Reuters says. "They do pure research that private companies often find it hard to justify and afford, and make discoveries that launch entire industries: publicly funded organizations split the atom, invented the Internet, and mapped the human genome."