Disruption and diversity – Innovators to watch 2021

Clarivate IP experts reveal 28 trailblazing organizations on track to join the Top 100 Global Innovators list in coming years.

Every year since 2012, Clarivate has published the Top 100 Global Innovators™, identifying the 100 companies and institutions that sit at the very top of the global innovation ecosystem.

Based on qualitative measures of patented innovation, the index sets a benchmark of intellectual property and ideation excellence.

Beginning last year, in 2020, we also create a view of the organizations that are currently outside the Top 100, but showing signs of future entry.

The Innovators to watch series is intending to shine a light on the deeper list, beyond the 100, and uncover the signals of change on the horizon.


Measuring the pathway

To identify the organizations, we overlay a further analytical process on the datasets used to create the Top 100 list – essentially a series of tests – but without limiting to a specific number of entities. The tests include:

  1. Our candidate Innovators to watch need to be new to the Top 100, if they entered, and therefore cannot have been included in the list in previous years.
  2. They need to show a history of increase up the rankings over the past five years that is greater than their current gap to position 100, and therefore demonstrate a trajectory that could see them enter.
  3. The need to currently sit between position 101 and 250 in overall ranking, an assessment of how in range of entry they currently are.

One of the facets of the Top 100 Global Innovators process we have observed each year is that the requirements to be ranked at position 100 or higher increase as the bar for innovation excellence rises. In practice, this means that as organizations rank higher and higher, it gets ever more difficult to further increase.


New innovators spotlight innovative hotspots, disruptive trends and academia

Last year, the Innovators to watch process produced 25 organizations – both corporations and research institutions. Of those 25, 6 entered the Top 100 Global Innovators in 2021. Notably, there were 9 brand new entrants to the 2021 list, corresponding to a 67% prediction rate. This year, we have identified 28 organizations – again a mix of corporate and academic organizations.

Some are very well-known organizations, such as NASA, MIT or Salesforce.com. Some may surprise, such as Disney or Accenture. Some show wider trends in technology and economics, such as Alibaba, Baidu and Oppo, as the Mainland Chinese tech sector continues to mature. Still others show the broadening global footprint of the innovation ecosystem, such as King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, or Tata Steel from India.

We also see a specific data point around the automotive sector, with three car manufacturers – General Motors, Hyundai and Mazda – all appearing in the Innovators to watch for the first time. [Interested in trends affecting the automotive sector? Read our recent analysis of the electric vehicles industry here.]

While Innovators to watch is only a small snapshot of wider innovation trends, there are interesting themes within it: increasing geographic diversity of innovation contribution, the response to technology convergence and disruption in mobility technology and the importance of academic research institutions to the commercialization of ideas.

As the Top 100 Global Innovators for next year comes together, we are eager to see how the 28 listed here today perform. Download the report to see the full list of Innovators to watch.