Every year for the last decade, Clarivate has produced the Top 100 Global Innovators™, our annual review of the organizations at the pinnacle innovation. This year, using our advanced Derwent™ patent solutions, we dive beyond patent activity to measure patterns of ingenuity, likelihood of success and the strength of companies’ innovation culture.
10 years of innovation measurement; centuries of problem solving
The tenth anniversary of the Top 100 provides an opportunity to not only celebrate all 100 innovators that have made the 2021 list, but to also explore a special subset: the 29 companies that have never left it.
Taking a view back to the very foundations of these 29 firms, we discovered the modern relevance of their early problem-solving practices as well as business-of-innovation challenges that will be familiar to anyone bringing an idea to market today.
We found that many of these companies haven’t only led for a decade, but on average for a century – adapting, creating, leading and truly building an innovation culture that not only lasts, but remains on the cutting edge. In one case, all the way since 1665. These companies are growing faster and are more successful, recording almost 2.5 times growth and faster than the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
However, while innovation culture lasts, the challenges of a century ago also endure – that adding strength usually adds weight too, that making a higher quality or more reliable product tends to make it cost more: these considerations remain just as acute for the engineer now as then. The technology may be more complex, the variables changed in magnitude, but the underlying principles are the same.
We found that many of these companies haven’t only led for a decade, but on average for a century – adapting, creating, leading and truly building an innovation culture that not only lasts, but remains on the cutting edge.
In addition, we found strong echoes today of the macro-trends of a century ago, including the introduction of radio technology as entertainment that built new convergence-enabled industries; rapid change in transport infrastructure; and new, more global competitive and collaborative ecosystems.
The world’s shared experience this past year of pandemic disease is also reflected in early 20th century influenza, its impact on lives and families and wealth-destroying effects on economies.
The themes of the modern R&D landscape – automation, connectivity, wellbeing, mobility – were present in the world of a century ago.
So were many of the Top 100 Global Innovators 2021. Dozens of the entities that made up the list of most prolific patent applicants in 1921 are still, though some highly evolved, members of the Top 100 today.
Innovative culture and its value
The striking longevity and resilience shown by innovative companies staying innovative is neither accidental nor easy. Maintaining a sense of urgency for change, of disdain for the status quo and a desire not just for improvement, but for making their current suite of technologies themselves obsolete: this is culture.
The management practices, collaborative principles and cultural norms needed to be consistently innovative are an inherent value characteristic. They represent significant focus and investment by companies in the ways that ideas are generated and problems are solved – for society and in their own products.
It isn’t simply about spending money on research, nor the release of new products regularly to produce new revenue streams. Innovation culture is independent of the usual inputs and outputs measured on the income statement. Instead, it is the driving factor behind a company’s ability to convert research into revenues and performance.
In this year’s Top 100 Global Innovators report, we analyze the companies that have remained in the list throughout its ten-year history. We evaluate the stark difference in their market value compared to major stock indices and other comparable companies.
Our conclusions reveal that innovation culture – the habitual creation of new ideas – matters a great deal.
The history we reflect on in this study also offers comfort. We see that humanity has suffered shock events before, and that new solutions can provide an overwhelming force for a return to economic growth and the creation of new jobs and industries. Looking ahead, the new value innovators create when they solve a technical or engineering challenge will be a critical component of recovery for the emerging post-COVID-19 economy.
At Clarivate, we recommit to provide the information innovators everywhere need to turn bold ideas into life-changing innovations—now and in the changing world ahead.
Congratulations to all 100 innovators. See this year’s Top 100, read about the 29 “innovation pioneers” that have remained on the list for the past decade – and even take a deeper dive into the Top 100 backfile to reveal additional leaders across key global industries.