Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and Tesla are considered the five most innovative companies, according to BCG’s analysis of the 50 most innovative companies of 2021.
Abbott Labs, AstraZeneca, Comcast, Mitsubishi, and Moderna join the top 50 most innovative companies for the first time this year.
The fastest movers include Toyota, who jumped from 41st to 21st; Salesforce, who jumped from 35th to 22nd; and Coca-Cola, who jumped from 48th to 28th.
90% of companies that outperform on innovation outcomes demonstrate clear C-suite ownership of the innovation agenda.
These and many other insights are from the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) 15th annual report defining the world’s 50 most innovative companies in 2021. BCG surveyed 1,500 global innovation executives and found a 10% point increase, to 75%, in executives reporting that innovation is a top-three priority at their companies today. That’s the most significant year-over-year increase in the 15 global innovation surveys BCG has conducted since 2005. BCG’s Most Innovative Companies 2021: Overcoming the Innovation Readiness Gap is available for download free here (28 pp., PDF). This years’ report methodology focuses on identifying the factors causing a large innovation readiness gap between the world’s most innovative companies and their peers across industries. Please see page 23 of the study for the methodology.
Key insights from BCGs’ most innovative companies of 2020 include the following:
Creating a new COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year, inventing test kits in weeks to protect public health, and redefining online shopping and safe home delivery reflect the versatility of the world’s most innovative companies in 2021. Pzifer, Moderna, and Merck & Company’s innate ability to innovate gave everyone a decade of their lives back. Delivering a vaccine in a year when the initial projection was a decade reflects the innovative efficiency of these companies. 2021 is the first year Abbott Labs, who invented and scaled the production of COVID-19 test kits, is included in the 50 most innovative companies worldwide. Amazon and Walmart’s logistics and e-commerce expertise helped ensure safe online shopping and fast home delivery was available to millions of people under stay-at-home orders.
Five factors most differentiate the most and least innovative companies. The basis of BCG’s methodology to identify the 50 most innovative companies in 2021 centers on their innovation-to-impact (i2i) framework. The framework is designed to help companies measure the readiness of their innovation programs to operate at a consistently high level of efficiency and effectiveness. The BCG i2i scoring system identified five factors that most differentiate innovative company leaders and laggards. The five factors that best indicate how innovative a company has the potential to be are shown in the following graphic:
Lack of collaboration between sales, marketing & R&D is the major obstacle to innovation. 31% of all companies surveyed see poor collaboration between marketing and R&D as the most significant obstacle to improving the return on their innovation investments. According to BCG, the collaboration between marketing, sales, and R&D is the most challenging in the Pharmaceutical industry, where 42% of respondents say it’s the biggest hurdle to achieving more significant returns on innovation.
Digital transformation of the core business is now a top priority for 75% of CEOs, and 65% of firms are doubling down on their plans for transformation with renewed urgency. BCG identified six success factors that together—and only together—flip the odds of digital transformation success from 30% to 80%. Those six success factors are close integration of digital strategy with the business strategy, commitment from the CEO through middle management, a talent core of digital superstars, business-led and flexible technology and data platforms, agile governance, and effective monitoring of progress toward defined outcomes.
Companies that know how to collaborate quickly between customer and R&D teams have an inside edge on being innovation leaders. The world’s most innovative companies also have senior management teams committed to the long-term success of nascent, unproven programs. There’s greater tolerance for risk, more of a focus on customers first and innovating around their needs, and an intuitive sense of how to close innovation gaps that hold other companies back.
Microsoft, Apple, and IBM lead the world in hardware & software patent innovation according to PatentSight.
Samsung, Johnson & Johnson, LG Electronics. Alphabet, Qualcomm, Ford, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, and VW are the ten most innovative companies in the world, according to PatentSight’s patent analytics research.
Ford leads the global automotive industry in patent innovation, due in large part to successful R&D efforts in autonomous driving.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Swiss consulting firm EconSight’s patent analytics research that first identified all the patents that are supposed to protect particularly relevant innovations – in this case, defined as innovations for the digitization of applied technologies – using the PatentSight database. Companies not only have to maintain their innovative strength; they also have to continue to expand in comparison to previous years to take a leading position in the ranking. For additional details on the methodology and to request the rank of your company, please visit the PatentSight Innovation Ranking 2019 site here.
Key insights from EconSight’s patent analytics research defining the most innovative companies globally include the following:
38 of the most innovative companies in the world are based in the U.S, 21 in China, and 15 from Europe. Chinese followed by Japanese-based companies lead the world in electronics innovation as measured by the uniqueness of patents produced. U.S. companies lead the world in medical technology patent innovation. The following graphic compares the number of companies within the global top 100 ranking by country and industry for 2019.
In the U.S., tech companies dominate the top 10 most innovative companies in 2019. Alphabet, Qualcomm, Intel, Microsoft, Honeywell, Apple, and GE are producing the most unique, differentiated and value-adding patents based on EconSight’s methodology. Medical technology companies show the greatest growth in innovative patent production as the graphic below illustrates:
The world’s most innovative medical technology companies’ patent focus is on biosensors, surgical robotics, shortening the time-to-market for pharmaceutical drugs, and funding startup incubators that yield new patents. Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) multifaceted innovation strategy reflects the broader strategic vision of every medical technology company pursuing new intellectual property (IP) that leads to patent leadership. J&J acquired Auris Health and Verb Surgical, which is managed as a joint venture with Alphabet’s Verily medical division, which gives them a patent portfolio in healthcare intelligence. J&J has in total acquired over 300 companies in the medical technology industry according to PatentSight’s analysis. These acquisitions have moved them into biosensors, surgical robotics, and startups performing drug research.
Japanese robotics manufacturer Fanuc is the world’s most innovative automation technology company based on patent analysis. Since 2019 Fanuc has jumped 42 places in the ranking, from 61st to 19th. The global labor shortage in manufacturing is a contributing factor to the strong market demand Fanuc is seeing for all its robotics products and systems. The following are the top 25 robotics companies of 2019:
Ford leads the global automotive industry in patent innovation, while Volkswagen doubles down on patents over the last two years. Ford leads the world in patent innovation due to its rapid advances in autonomous vehicle development. Volkswagen’s rapid ascent in the automotive industry rankings has made them the most innovative company in Germany based on patent analytics this year. VW is investing in autonomous vehicles, and the networking of mobility participants, setting a solid foundation for future vehicle models today.
PatentSight – A Lexis Nexis company– specializes in cleaning and refining patent data and providing advanced patent analytics. Publicly available patent data simply cannot be used without qualitative preparation and correction. Due to the sheer mass (about 3.3 million new registrations in 2018 alone), all available patents cannot be viewed manually. Publications in many different languages and often very abstract contents make a manual review and evaluation difficult not only for laymen but also for experts. A further challenge is to level out the widely differing citation practices of national patent offices or to document the legal status of patents.
PatentSight, through manually supervised and scientifically developed algorithms, has best-in-class information on ownership data, going far beyond the testing standards recommended by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Moreover, PatentSight‘s proprietary patent valuation metrics reveal which patents are key, and which are superfluous. Based on citations, global protection, and several correction factors, EconSight leveraged these metrics to determine the most innovative companies.