We see you're using an obsolete browser. For a better experience when browsing The New Economy, and for a better web, please consider switching to a newer browser. For more information on popular browsers please see browsehappy.com.

The artists of invention

To make it in today’s fiercely competitive market, companies must think outside the box. Research, development and innovation hold the key to success, writes Thomas Mallick

Commerce has gone through many changes since our ancestors first established the concept of lending. Economies have grown as populations have increased, and with the development of increased lending, commerce has become integral to our way of living; allowing mankind to develop and sustain itself on a macro scale.

Until recently, innovation was a concept labelled as the remit of the technologically and creatively minded. But as scientific know-how has become more accessible and information ubiquitous, The New Economy has taken the opportunity to recognise the ingenious achievements made in business throughout 2012. The following list of 40 companies and individuals identifies triumphs in research and development and the implementation of said accomplishments.

Innovation is considered by many companies to be a risky and expensive liability. When times get tough, many CEOs go straight to their R&D departments in search of potential savings. Focusing on an existing portfolio and continuing with the status quo may seem like a logical move, especially when shareholders come nibbling, but had Apple taken that approach there would be no iPod, MacBook, iPhone or iPad, and the company would have gone out of business. The most successful companies – like a lot of automobile manufacturers in the last few decades of the 20th century – understand that new products work in a similar fashion to the investment multiplier often discussed by economists in terms of national economies: you must innovate to accumulate.

Naturally, countries have different approaches to what they consider innovation. Much of what we traditionally regard as the West looks at the launch of new consumer goods and services as true innovation, while Australasia and the Scandinavian regions tend to categorise it in terms of sustainability and green technology. China and a number of Asian nations celebrate innovation as the bettering of existing processes. Looking at the Innovation 40 2012, these differences aren’t difficult to consolidate. Indeed, we’ve scoured the globe for a range of entities throughout a host of different industries, selecting those that have moved the boundaries of existing paradigms throughout the year – from those creating new markets to those who succeeded in refining strategies or existing products; all have positioned themselves to evolve regardless of what financial constraints may have hindered their efforts.

Tackling innovation head on is a notion that any firm – small or large – must adopt in order to withstand the pressure currently prevalent in global markets. With more and more competition arising from new contenders in once-discounted domiciles – which boast enterprises capable of offering affordable pricing structures – companies that had previously gained large market shares are finding themselves under intense pressure to re-establish themselves. The most immediate winner of this new sense of competition is, of course, the consumer.

What is commendable about this list is that it is made up of not only well-established organisations and multinational superpowers, but of some breakthrough companies pioneering niche developments. We believe this is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is an information economy: success is recognised in those capable of understanding their market and offering something different. Secondly, information is in overabundance, so continually being able to analyse and react is a fundamental requirement for pursuing growth, even on a small scale. Lastly, innovation can be fostered in each and every functional and strategic department, and if approached correctly can turn a small enterprise into an industry leader.

With firms and individuals such as those seen on this list ensuring industry moves forward, the future looks promising: from an economic growth perspective; in bettering living standards; and adding to human advancement in general. We feel that the novel nature of this list – recognising innovation as the application of thought to a number of different processes and end-results – offers a diverse and well-rounded overview of the most exciting prospects from 2012.



Sadnvik has 2,700 employees active in its R&D division


Sandvik has approximately 5,500 active patents in the company today

Sandvik is a Swedish engineering group widely recognised for its innovative approach in furthering business-related mechanisms and practices. A world leader, the high-technology engineering group has a long-standing tradition of innovation supported by R&D investments. The company collates data on the needs and expectations of customers, implementing improvements based on the feedback. The commitment demonstrated by Sandvik in maintaining customer satisfaction is unparalleled; the company now operates in 130 countries.

Top Innovation

Sandvik continues to expand, with its latest bureau opening in Stockholm in 2012. The company’s profile has never been higher, especially after President and CEO Olof Faxander rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ last September.

Sandvik makes products in advanced stainless materials, titanium, special alloys, metallic and ceramic resistance materials, process systems, tools for metal cutting and components in cemented carbide and other materials

Fujio Mitarai, Canon


Mitarai graduated from the University of Chuo in 1961


Since he took over as CEO Canon’s revenue has grown 70 percent

Chairman of Japanese electronics corporation Canon, Fujio Mitarai, utliises aspects of both Eastern and Western business philosophy in what has since been termed ‘the Mitarai way’. Continually setting innovative business precedents in his pushing of path-breaking manufacturing methods and in reviving unprofitable business models, Mitarai displays a measure of success in an ailing economy. Commonly viewed as a world-leading business executive, Mitarai demonstrates the importance of innovation and of leadership in the face of tough financial prospects.

Top Innovation

In 2012 Canon focused on new technology products, establishing itself as a market leader in the increasingly popular Digital SLR segment, combining photo and video and small portable, professional standard cameras.

“We have to plant the seeds for the next decade and beyond.”

Mitarai received the royal Dutch decoration of the Commandership in the Order of Orange-Nassau for exceptional service to The Netherlands

Marijn Dekkers, Bayer


Dekkers allocated $3.9bn to Bayer’s R&D division in 2012, one of the largest in pharmaceuticals


Dekkers had a fantastic year with Bayer, making $52.8bn from sales in 2012

Marijn Dekkers describes his business philosophy as being “more innovation, less administration”. Having developed Bayer from an ailing pharmaceutical company to a pioneering corporate model, Dekkers emphasises the importance of Bayer having focused on new markets and in understanding differences with individual economies. Innovation, for Dekkers, is not achieved with complexity and spending, but through the streamlining of manufacturing and process.

Top Innovation

Dekkers has been vocal about the demands of innovation, and over the past year has called for countries to invest more regionally. He was also elected as an independent director and joined the board of GE in July, 2012.

“Curiosity and a thirst for innovation are my driving forces. I know what I want and I try to be consistent about it.”

Dekkers was tipped for a professional tennis career, making number two inthe Dutch youth league



There’s an 80 percent chance your disc drive is made by Nidec

ISO 14001

Nidec was one of the first to obtain an ISO 14001 certification

Nidec is a Japanese manufacturer of electric motors and is widely considered to have been instrumental in the early expansion of modern-day transport systems. Nidec currently holds almost 1,000 patents in motor and drive technology and develops services to befit its customers’ ever-changing needs. With improved energy efficiency being a key driver in the current market, Nidec is ensuring its advancements are geared to remain environmentally friendly.

Top Innovation

Nidec Corporation has opened its new R&D centre in Taiwan. The facility is an epicentre for research on motors and motor-applied products.

You probably have two or three Nidec products in your home and more in your office

If you set your phone to vibrate the chances are it’s a Nidec motor that makes it work



Infosys was the first Indian company to be listed on the US Stock Exchange in 1999


Infosys was making over $4bn in revenue per year by 2008

An Indian multinational provider of business consulting, engineering and outsourcing services, Infosys is considered a market leader for its corporate governance practices and contributions in furthering green business performance. Infosys aims to further accelerate the development of solutions with its encouragement of co-operation and co-creation with similarly minded businesses. The company aims to offer IT-led innovation to further its industry and promote enterprising platforms to further benefit those using its services.

Top Innovation

Infosys achieved great success in 2012, growing almost six percent in the Q4. Infosys is committed to a number of educational initiatives like Project Genesis, which has trained one million Indian students in IT.

Company founder N R Narayana Murthy borrowed $250 from his wife Sudha to start the business

The company managed without a computer for its first two years, with the first mini-computer arriving in 1983



photos on its system


location-tagged posts


friend connections to one billion users


photos on its servers

Facebook is renowned for having initiated a global dependence on social media. Established in 2004 as a means to network with local college communities, Facebook has since been extensively rewritten as a fundamental indicator of identity. By constantly monitoring and responding to an active community exceeding a billion users, Facebook is a global leader in demonstrating what can be achieved by considering consumer demands and in pursuing an unflinching approach to innovation.

Top Innovation

Facebook’s IPO was not the success it was supposed to be, but it was still the biggest tech IPO ever. Facebook also surpassed the milestone of over one billion active users and launched a successful mobile ad program.

1.13trn+ ‘likes’ since its 2009 launch

210,000+ years of music played

Ronnie Leten, Atlas Copco


Atlas Copco designed the first completely Swedish diesel engine in 1901


Atlas Copco established a new digital management solution for generator sets in 2012

By providing “long-term industrial experience, as well as innovative products and solutions to current and new customers”, Ronnie Leten has ensured Atlas Copco’s reputation as a highly respected business. Since heading the industrial tooling and equipment manufacturer  Leten has instigated a number of measures to develop the global industrial group. Having recently established China as its primary market, Leten has adapted the business accordingly to meet ever-changing demands.

Top Innovation

Leten continues to lead the company’s international expansion with the opening of a customer centre in Burkina Faso. The company has also been expanding in Europe, notably with the acquisition of Swiss MEYCO Equipment.

“We are upgrading the skills of our own young people constantly and also the employees of our customers... wherever we are in the world.”

Atlas Copco was founded in 1873, and is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden



SAP spends on average $2.5bn per year on R&D


SAP offers over 1,200 products and services at its SAP Store

SAP is a German software corporation primarily focused on the manufacturing of enterprise software business operations. As well as being one of the largest software companies worldwide, SAP shows a constant willingness to offer innovative solutions to business and in furthering developments in the IT industry. SAP monitors the feedback of its customers and considers their responses invaluable in guiding the direction of SAP. With a respectable reputation in manufacturing advanced, customer-orientated solutions, SAP represents the best in software innovation.

Top Innovation

SAP has remained ahead of its competitors by investing in its own cloud computing services, which it is continually developing and adding to. It has also extended its range of mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad.

SAP’s target for cloud computing revenue by 2015 is $2.6bn

SAP has applied for on average 750 patents per year over the past 10 years

Arm Holdings

ARM Holdings is a British software and semiconductor design company, focusing primarily on processors and software development tools under the brand names RealView and Keil. The defining characteristic of ARM processors is low electric power consumption for portable devices. ARM is unique in that it licenses technology as intellectual property rather than making its own CPUs. An ambition of the company is to see ARM-based processors installed in over 50 percent of all tablets, notebooks and mobile PCs sold on the market.

Top Innovation

2012 was a big year for ARM Holdings as it profited from the rise of mobile devices. Its chips are used in iPads and Microsoft 8 tablets, two of the year’s best-selling gadgets. The company is expecting growth of 40 percent for 2012.

ARM Holdings is currently the world’s leading semiconductor Intellectual Property company

In 2012, software giant Microsoft unveiled its first ARM-supported user technology

Thomas Bon, OKH


Bon was awarded with an Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2012 from Singapore’s ROTARY-ASME


Bon has led an initiative to distribute daily provisions to over 200 needy people in Singapore

OKH Holdings, a property development company based in Singapore, is unique in that it integrates property development and construction services, with a focus on large-scale industrial projects and infrastructural ventures. Putting to use some of the world’s most highly regarded engineers and technicians, the group’s property development projects are noted for their aesthetics and socially responsible features. Thomas Bon established the burgeoning outfit with nominal resources and continues to oversee OKH’s impressive growth as its Chief Executive Officer Executive Chairman. Building on its growth momentum, Bon is preparing the group’s next phase of growth in Singapore and beyond.

Top Innovation

By fusing property development and integrated construction capabilities, Bon has set a new standard on the continent for property development in Singapore, making the OKH brand recognisable across Asia.

“We are a family business without a family member.”

To promote sustainability OKH uses green landscaping, energy-saving building materials, economy water fittings and LED lighting within its functional developments

Jack Dorsey, Square


Square was valued at $3.2bn in September 2012


Dorsey’s personal stake in the company is said to be worth $1bn

Jack Dorsey is an American web developer and entrepreneur best known for having co-founded social media platform Twitter and mobile payments company Square. Dorsey’s three founding principles of simplicity, constraint and craftsmanship are fundamental in the make-up of his business philosophy, and have since proved influential in the pioneering and advancement of associated platforms. Dorsey is widely considered one of the foremost minds of the digital age and, at present, acts as executive chairman for Twitter and as CEO for Square.

Top Innovation

Dorsey’s payment solution Square has gone from strength-to-strength, with Starbucks announcing it will offer the service to its customers in August 2012. The coffee-maker will also invest $25m into the company.

“If we can perfect one experience for one individual, we can scale to every single one of the seven billion people inhabiting thisearth.”

Previous names for square were ‘squirrel’, ‘stash’ and ‘wallet’



Rakuten bought Canadian ebook reader Kobo in 2012


Rakuten is leading a consortium investing $100m in file-sharing site Pinterest

Rakuten is a Japanese electronic commerce company and the largest of its sector in its native country. Having established itself as a leading competitor in the region, Rakuten is taking major steps to realise its potential as a global, adaptable and expansive business model. Moving into banking, e-money, telecommunications and travel, Rakuten has proved itself to be a diverse operator in an increasingly competitive sector. Rakuten’s expansion overseas has seen it acquire several key players, allowing it to provide a more comprehensive consumer experience.

Top Innovation

Rakuten is a pioneer of ecommerce and in 2012 surpassed 81 million shoppers on its network, 60 percent of whom are Japanese. It has also invested in ebooks, purchasing the Canadian company Kobo and launching its services in Japan.

Rakuten decided to adopt English as the company’s official language from mid-2012

It has acquired Buy.com (US), Priceminister (France), Ikeda (Brasil), Tradoria (Germany) and Play.com (UK)



Toyota spends more on R&D than any company in the world, investing
$1m every hour


Toyota is the world’s leading manufacturer of hybrid vehicles, with more than 1.7 million on the road

Widely acknowledged as a leader in the automobile sector, Toyota’s willingness to implement incremental innovations at every stage of design is largely responsible for its status in the market. Demonstrating that development is about creativity, Toyota has proven itself to be an astute and adaptable brand. While the automobile industry has plummeted in recent years, Toyota has shown that growth is more about adaptability than any other method of business.

Top Innovation

Toyota has been working hard to recoup its number-one auto manufacturer position. Its new on-board computer interacts with the owner’s smartphone, and provides up-to-minute information about the condition of the vehicle.

Toyota is number-one among automakers for patent applications and awards in alternative power technology

The Toyota Prius has won the ecoENERGY award each year since the model was introduced in 2001

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler


Zetsche completed a Phd in engineering at the University of Paderborn in 1982


Zetsche will remain at the helm of Daimler until 2018

Having spent much of his career at German multinational corporation Daimler AG – where he currently stands as Chairman of the Executive Board – Dieter Zetsche has overseen many of the innovations and developments implemented throughout its rich 15-year history. Zetsche argues that: “As much as a smartphone can be far more than just a tool for communication, a smart car can be more than just a means of transportation”. Zetsche, with Daimler, is currently developing a future in which drivers are allowed to communicate with their cars.

Top Innovation

Under Zetsche, Mercedes-Benz car sales were up five percent in 2012, and Daimler’s trucks were up nine percent across all categories. The company has begun work to add 13 new models to its existing portfolio by 2020.

“There’s no politics. It’s very straight-forward. This is the kind of culture we want to have – no shit, no politics – just working together to improve this company as fast as we can.”



One in four Samsung employees currently work in its R&D department


Samsung’s proportion of R&D to total sales

One of the largest electronics corporations worldwide, Samsung’s multi-billion dollar enterprise has developed in strict correlation with its continued willingness to innovate. Samsung works alongside eco-friendly companies and operates in accordance with environmental practices to ensure its financial success is replicated by its ethical business standing. Samsung’s Value Innovation Programme has initiated the creation of six design labs and has ensured a measure of technological prowess in its continued development as an electronics giant.

Top Innovation

It has been a tremendous year for Samsung, as the tech giant’s smartphones swiftly took over the market. Its flagship product, the Galaxy S series, has sold over one million units, and more products in the range are planned.

Samsung’s R&D staff has increased 55.2 percent over the past three years

10% is Samsung’s target ratio of female executives by 2020

Johnson Controls


Johnson Controls has products, from single components to full interiors, in over 200 million vehicles


Johnson Controls is involved in 500 renewable energy projects including wind and geo-thermal

Johnson Controls offers services and products for the optimising of energy and the efficiency of buildings, as well as automotive batteries, electronics and interior systems for automobiles. It supports the largest research and innovation programme in the real estate industry and cites technology as a means for furthering the efficiency of those currently in the workplace. Johnson Controls routinely adapts and readapts its services to take existing products to another level of ingenuity.

Top Innovation

Over the course of 2012 Johnson Controls focused on new technology for automobiles, including seat technology to reduce size and enhance comfort and an infotainment and driver information electronics system.

Johnson Controls supplies over one third of the world’s automakers in advanced batteries for hybrid and electric cars

Johnson Controls’ technology has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 12.7 million metric tonnes, saving $7.5bn in the process

Procter & Gamble


P&G’s breakthrough was its ‘Ivory’ soap that floated in water


Today, 24 of P&G’s brands generate more than $1bn in annual sales

American consumer goods company Procter & Gamble (P&G) is proof that efforts to maintain environmental initiatives can be rewarded with profit-making. P&G’s history is enriched not only with individual product innovations, but with developing entirely new product categories: its staff have over 1,000 PhDs among its 8,000 employees. Engulfing its business practices with sustainable criteria, whether it be in its formulation methods or in packaging, P&G stands as a monument to what can be achieved simultaneously in both the corporate and social sphere.

Top Innovation

P&G celebrated its 175 year anniversary in 2012. The company has invested heavily in emerging markets; growth in BRIC countries has averaged 20 percent per year over the past 10 years, totalling $32bn in sales last year.

Founders William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker, were immigrants from England and Ireland respectively. They met one another by marrying sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris



PCO was founded in 1987 with the objective of producing fast and sensitive video camera systems


PCO was one of the first camera companies in the world to offer a sCMOS camera

PCO is a leading manufacturer of high-performance camera systems, primarily used for scientific and industrial purposes. The digital cameras are dynamic, fast, with extraordinarily high-calibre resolution. Relying on state-of-the-art image sensors, the cameras are built using CCD, CMOS and sCMOS technology. Headquartered in Germany, the firm’s cameras are used in a wide variety of applications, including new microscopy techniques, crash-test applications and 3D metrology. PCO cameras were even used to record the last Space Shuttle start in 3D and delivered the first high-quality images from the Titanic wreck. PCO is comprised of a 20-strong team of dedicated specialists working continually on pushing the limits of camera technology in R&D.

Top Innovation

PCO’s work during 2012 was notable for a number of R&D initiatives that aided the development of its scientific CMOS pco.edge family. The new offerings include new models with improved sensitivity and more sophisticated calibration.

PCO pioneered scientific grade cameras with pure digital output, delivering a digital image to a computer to be processed or stored

The founder of PCO, Dr Emil Ott, is a former engineer and scientist at the technical university of Munich


317 metres

Kone operates the world’s largest elevator, Tytyri, at 317 metres


The IDE300 has auto-recognition and takes residents directly to their home floor

Kone is an international engineering and services company, perhaps most commonly known for providing maintenance services and modernisation solutions for businesses throughout the globe. Kone demonstrates a history of innovation in that it has always provided long-term, systematic investment support to its R&D capabilities; monitoring consumer demands and the developments in technology to better provide for its customers and employees. Perhaps most important of Kone’s business principles is its assurance of quality in both its products and in its services.

Top Innovation

Kone was awarded many prestigious accolades in 2012 for its innovative MonoSpace Elevator 3000. A decade on from the first elevator free from a machine room, a new version requiring only the shaft has been launched.

Kone revolutionised the industry with the world’s first machine-room-less elevator system

Kone’s copper winding system reduces the amount of energy lost as heat, making its elevators energy efficient



Cisco has filed12,200 patents, an average of 700 per year


Cisco is one of the world’s most valuable companies, with a valuation of $450bn

Cisco’s unrelenting business enterprise and focus on collaboration has made for one of the world’s most successful networking companies. Now a multinational corporation with annual revenue of over $46bn, Cisco is adept at incorporating its employees’ ideas to promote growth from within. Encouraging staff to implement customer feedback in the development of new products, as well as encouraging them to swap and share ideas with third parties, the firm’s emphasis on innovation is testament to its continued success as a multinational corporation.

Top Innovation

Cisco was the Official Network Infrastructure Provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The firm produced, processed and stored record-breaking amounts of video and voice data via a fully converged IP network.

Husband and wife team Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner founded Cisco in 1984, inventing the multi-protocol router when they wanted to email each other from separate offices but the technology didn’t exist

McLaren Applied Technologies


MAT helped 15 British Olympic medallists get to the gold podium at London 2012

60,000sq ft

MAT is building a new 60,000sq ft centre which will create 400 permanent jobs

McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) is a British company focusing on technical applications for the McLaren Group. Since its formation in 2004, MAT has pursued advances in systems, equipment, modelling and simulation. The company works on the principles of open innovation and, as such, manages a network of entrepreneurial technology companies to better develop new and innovative solutions to the highest standards possible.

Top Innovation

MAT has recently developed the High Performance Centre which provides an immersive training environment for drivers and engineers, designed to be the most commercially successful centre in the region.

MAT operates the Slipsteam Network, a portal for like-minded businesses, market innovators and technology providers

MAT played host to Ideas4Innovation, an award scheme aimed at providing research to improve the performance of British athletes



Syngenta employs 5,000 people at its R&D centres globally


Syngenta spends on average $1bn per year on its R&D initiatives

Global specialised chemicals company Syngenta works primarily in the advancement of biotechnology and genomic research. The Swiss-based company is the third-largest seller of commercial agricultural seeds and employs 26,000 people across 90 countries. Syngenta maintains a strict focus on innovation, aiming to turn scientific progress into commercially viable products. Decorated with awards for scientific excellence and advances in new agricultural solutions, Syngenta fosters a reputation as a world leader in providing new means of doing business.

Top Innovation

Syngenta products helped the market cope with adverse weather conditions in 2012. Sales were up by 18 percent in emerging markets; six percent overall. The company obtained EU approval for its next generation fungicides Seguris and Bontima.

Syngenta has developed a new technology that reduces the required spraying frequency of insecticides

Syngenta is a leader in developing traits for controlling chewing insects using genetic modification

George T Whitesides, Virgin Galactic

“Our parents and grandparents took us to the Moon the first time. Now it’s time for us to go back to the Moon to stay, and then head straight for Mars.”

Prior to Virgin Galactic, Whitesides served as Chief of Staff for NASA

George T Whitesides is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, a project with the goal of providing sub-orbital flight opportunities for those interested in space tourism. Whitesides maintains a strict philosophy of combining both entrepreneurship and innovation; a philosophy he thinks essential for the future of job creation. This principle is one very much linked to the work of Virgin Galactic, where a focused approach is essential to meet its ambitious aims.

Top Innovation

Virgin Galactic is in the process of building its third and fourth spacecrafts and is expecting maiden journeys to take place before the end of the 2013. Whitesides is gearing up for Virgin Galactic’s biggest year yet.

Virgin Galactic’s ceo is married to Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides and they plan to be the first couple to honeymoon in space

Upon departure from NASA whitesides was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency bestows

Hitachi Medical Corporation

Sales breakdown


Medical Systems


Medical Information Systems


Analysis Systems


Medical Analysis Systems

Hitachi Medical Corporation (HMC) provides a direct link to the US in the delivery of advanced diagnostics imaging products. The firm is recognised internationally as a pioneer in the development of proton beam therapy (PBT) technology, an advanced form of cancer radiotherapy that employs spot scanning irradiation. HMC maintains an unwavering commitment to the technological advancement of medical equipment, ensuring the easing of medical workloads and the furthering of medical treatment is central to its R&D practices.

Top Innovation

HMC is focusing on the recovery from the after effects of the Great East earthquake and tsunami. It inaugurated a plant in China, equipped with the latest facilities for manufacturing MRI solutions and ultrasound probes.

HMC’s medical systems include MRI systems, diagnostic ultrasound systems, x-ray ct systems and nuclear medicine systems



AstraZeneca has 11,300 employees working in R&D


AstraZeneca invests $4bn on R&D yearly (the average cost of launching a new drug)

AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biologics company operating in over 100 countries. The firm has a growing presence in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and Russia. Medicines manufactured by AstraZeneca are developed for use in areas of cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience and respiratory and inflammation-related illnesses. Investing over $4bn annually on R&D, AstraZeneca demonstrates a continued commitment to producing prescription medicines of the highest quality.

Top Innovation

AstraZeneca spent 2012 focusing on molecule analysis, making a number of breakthroughs in its fight against cancer and diabetes. It established key partnerships to combat diseases and aid progress in strategic growth.

AstraZeneca has created a blog called LabTalk: a place for dialogue between peers across the scientific community

AstraZeneca has contributed over $9.7m to projects aimed at improving health across the US

General Electric


GE traces its origins to Thomas Edison, who formed Edison Electric Light Company in 1878


GE is the only company listed in the Dow Jones Industrial Index that was included in the 1896 original


GE built the first major business school, the John Welch Leadership Centre in 1956

General Electric (GE) is a US-headquartered multinational conglomerate demonstrating a markedly forward-thinking attitude, notably towards ‘green’ innovation. To set itself apart from its competitors GE believes in allocating hefty grants for use in product innovation and considers IP rights a positive force for the development of cross-business co-operation and the production of complex product types. By adopting a greener strategy GE aims to offer a more transparent mode of business to encourage even greater investment for the future.

Top Innovation

GE has invested heavily in the fight against cancer worldwide, with GE Healthcare launching a series of new oncology technologies in 2012, including the FlightPlan for Liver Cancer and the MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound Therapy for Bone Pain Palliation. It also acquired U-Systems Inc, an automated breast ultrasound imaging technology to integrate into its current portfolio.

Tencent Holdings

48,000 sq m

Tencent has a 48,000sq m R&D centre in Chengdu


Tencent’s QQ instant messaging portal has over 750 million active user accounts

Investment holding company Tencent Holdings and its subsidiaries are principally concerned with ensuring the provision of internet and telecommunications value-added services, as well as providing advertising services to users in the Chinese market. Tencent capitalises on the ever-expanding growth of the Chinese internet population and on the subsequent demand for internet-related services. Continually reacting to developments within the digital community, Tencent commands a great deal of authority and respect in a vastly competitive Chinese market.

Top Innovation

The company has experienced particular success with its e-commerce, mobile and telecommunications value-added services, part of its ‘Online Life’ strategy, with Q4 2012 profit growing 10 percent on the previous year.

Tencent is the largest and most-used internet service portal company in China

Tencent has its own online currency called Q Coins, which can be used to purchase virtual goods



SG has 3,700 researchers operating in multiple fields


SG currently has 700 projects in its portfolio, with 396 patents applied for in 2011

Originally founded as a mirror manufacturer, Saint-Gobain (SG) is now a multinational corporation producing a variety of construction and high-performance materials. The French company maintains a cycle of re-adapting currently existing products so that it can stay at the forefront of designing and manufacturing comfortable, economical and sustainable materials for buildings designed to display the best of sustainable living. One of SG’s key objectives is to contribute significantly to the shaping of a more sustainable future.

Top Innovation

Saint-Gobain is providing technical assistance and expertise to Saudi Arabia’s photovoltaic project, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. It has also opened a new manufacturing facility in China with Solar Tech.

SG operates 12 research centres and 101 development units

20 percent of SG’s manufacturing products didn’t exist five years ago

Red Bull


Almost five billion cans of Red Bull are consumed every year, making it the top- selling energy drink


Mateschitz is the richest person in Austria with $5bn, making him number 208 in the world

Red Bull is an energy drink company; though one that differentiates itself from a crowded market in its astute approach to marketing. Widely recognised for its many advertising campaigns and its slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings”, the company has invested a great deal in the establishment of a precise and carefully manufactured brand identity. Red Bull most noticeably invests in extreme sports such as biking, windsurfing, skateboarding, surfing and most notably Formula 1 racing, to maintain a competitive edge over its rival brands and keep within its target market of young, active people.

Top Innovation

Red Bull made headlines in 2012 by sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking sky-dive Stratos. The company also launched three new flavours of its energy drink for the first time in its 26-year history.

In 1984, founder Dietrich Mateschitz had the idea for Red Bull after becoming aware of ‘tonic drinks’ while in Hong Kong

Mateschitz fine-tuned the product, developed a marketing concept and started selling the Energy Drink on the Austrian market in 1987



Professors Liu Jiren and Li Huatian formed Neusoft in 1988


Neusoft provides hospitals with over 50 digital imaging methods

Neusoft is a Chinese software, IT services and medical equipment company headquartered in Shenyang and is the largest in its sector in its homeland. The high-tech giant demonstrates an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of new business innovations and makes continual efforts to move alongside rapidly growing technologies. Neusoft employs a systematic reuse of all resources in building application solutions, as well as strengthening process applications and promoting best practices in its green model of doing business.

Top Innovation

Neusoft developed its medical segment in 2012 with the launch of the NeuViz 64 Multi-slice CT Scanner. The state-of-the-art equipment challenges the notion that 64-slice CT scanners are too costly for most medical institutions.

Neusoft’s clients include over 20 provincial grids affiliated with the State Grid Corporation of China, and the China Southern Power Grid

Neusoft is the first listed software company in China



Alcatel’s Chattanooga smart grid will save it  $600m over 10years


Alcatel’s R&D division shares seven Nobel prizes between 13 scientists

Alcatel-Lucent is a French-based global telecommunications equipment firm headquartered in Paris, catering for service providers by means of voice, data and video services. While the company focuses primarily on fixed, mobile and converged networking hardware, IP technologies, software and services, the company maintains a highly innovative streak in its holdings of Bell Laboratories: a pioneering research and development subsidiary responsible for the invention of radio astronomy, the transistor, and the laser.

Top Innovation

Alcatel-Lucent has been expanding its business in Africa by partnering up with Bharti Airtel to develop broadband services. The firm supplies advanced IP-based technology in order to respond to the demands for faster broadband.

At least one out of three broadband DSL lines worldwide uses Alcatel’s technology

A 60-watt lightbulb consumes more power than an entire metrocell built on Alcatel’s light radio cube



Asetek has three new patents and many patents pending for liquid cooling products


Over 1.3 million Asetek liquid cooling systems have been deployed worldwide

Asetek is widely considered to be the leading supplier of liquid cooling solutions for computing, with its core products improving the acoustics of workstations and the performance of high-end consumer desktop computers. The company has reconfigured its proven desktop PC coolers into a line of hot-water, direct-to-chip liquid cooling systems for server and data centre cooling. With this technology, data centres can greatly reduce energy and water consumption, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. As a supplier to industry leaders, including HP and Dell, Asetek has a long reputation for outstanding quality and reliability.

Top Innovation

In 2012 Asetek developed the RackCDU. The data centre liquid cooling system reduces cooling energy consumption by up to 80 percent, by cooling its liquid using outdoor air. The system allows heat from servers to be reused for things like central heating.

Asetek’s range of liquid cooling solutions increases performance, density and energy efficiency in data centres

Cray recently announced a new line of high-efficiency supercomputers (Xtreme-Cool System) using Asetek RackCDU



Siemens generates 40 percent of the UK’s wind energy


Siemens’ equipment screens 15,000 women for breast cancer daily in the UK

German engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens is among the proudest names in manufacturing and is the largest company of its sector based in Europe. Claiming to pioneer and research 40 inventions per day, as well as having 28,000 researchers and developers working on solutions for energy, industry, infrastructure and healthcare, the company represents the importance of innovation in manufacturing. Siemens has preserved its reputation through the financial crisis and continues to innovate in an increasingly competitive climate.

Top Innovation

In 2012 Siemens invested heavily in its environmental portfolio, which accounts for 42 percent of its business. The company has focused on developing energy-saving solutions for buildings, batteries and energy systems.

Siemens have 14 million meter readers located in the UK

9 out of 10 cinemas in the UK use Siemens OSRAM lamps for film projection



Microsoft has applied for over 10,000 patents


The first Windows virus was released in 1992. Microsoft now pays hackers to find software vulnerabilities

Making remarkable breakthroughs in terms of technology and innovation, the world’s largest software maker shows no signs of slowing its progress. Focusing more on content than its competitors, Microsoft has pioneered a number of groundbreaking concepts in the overarching development of computing. Its innovation centres now number over 100 and are effective facilities for the conducting and advancement of research, technology and software solutions, collaborating with government, academic
and industry participants worldwide.

Top Innovation

Microsoft has found success in mobile technology with its Windows 8 devices, which have managed to challenge a large share in this competitive market segment. The tech giant has also been at the forefront of cloud computing.

Brian Eno was the musical brains behind Windows 95’s start up tune

Microsoft has a team called the Accessible Technology Group, dedicated to improving user capability for disabled people


3M has over 35 units including: consumer and office, display and graphics, electro and comms, healthcare, security and protection, industrial and transportation,  adhesives, abrasives, light management and nanotechnology

Originally intended as a vehicle for selling the mineral corundum, 3M has since become a multinational conglomerate valued at $30bn. Having developed products such as waterproof sandpaper, masking tape and cellophane, 3M’s corporate identity is best known for demonstrating a commitment to unique and innovative products, with33 percent of its yearly sales made from new products. 3M says its business model exhibits an “ability to not only develop unique products, but also to manufacture them efficiently and consistently around the world”.

Top Innovation

3M has achieved notable success with its Infrastructure Protection Division, completing a £27m pit and paddock project called ‘The Wing’ at Silverstone. 3M was selected because of its Scotchkote Liquid Roofing System.

3M has spent $7bn over the past 5 years on R&D

3M has2,673 granted patents, with 514 of those granted in the US

Elon Musk, SpaceX

Jon Favreau, Director of the first two Iron Man movies, has said that Musk was the inspiration for how Robert Downey jr plays genius billionaire Tony Stark

Though best known as the entrepreneur responsible for founding Tesla Motors and PayPal, Elon Musk is also known for having founded the pioneering space exploration technologies corporation SpaceX. Continually demonstrating an ability to advance innovative means of doing business, Musk is currently focused on improving the state of rocket technology. Having made a career of commercialising his own interests, Musk’s future projects are ambitious enough to entail the colonising of further planets, with the specific aim of being the first to set up a permanent camp on Mars. Being the principle mind behindthe first privately held company to send a cargo payload into space, Musk repeatedly demonstrates an ability to think a step ahead of his peers.

Top Innovation

SpaceX became the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station in 2012. And with construction under way on its second Dragon spacecraft, Musk certainly has big plans for SpaceX.

Musk bought his first computer at the age of 10 and taught himself how to program

By the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software for $500 – a space game called Blastar

Hans Hassle

“We think it is essential to change the perspective on why we do business; instead of being run by greed, it should be run by responsibilities.”

Hans Hassle, the CEO of Swedish urban farming technology company Plantagon, is the epitome of corporate social responsibility, having developed several management tools in this area since the 1980s. In his founding of Plantagon – a company consisting of both non-profit organisation ethics and for-profit business acumen – Hassle has demonstrated a commitment to a sustainable future through means of innovation, asserting that for a company to survive, it must look past profit and towards environmental, social and political factors.

Top Innovation

Hassle was named CEO of the Year – Sweden, by European CEO in 2012. The company broke ground with its first revolutionary vertical greenhouse, designed to address the food needs of growing urban populations.

he Swedish Government has appointed Hassle to the Ethical Committee of the Karolinska Insitute in Stockholm Hassle published his book “Business as Usual is over – the red capitalist”in2012