Are these really the 50 most innovative companies?

Business_week Business week has just published its annual list of top 50 innovative companies available here. Are these really the 50 most innovative companies? Who do you think should be on the list?

I think the list is rather predictable and tells us more about what people think of as innovation. These are big brand product led companies which are important but is that really what we mean by innovation?  As always the list is more telling for who it leaves out rather than who it includes – what about companies from sectors such as architecture/construction, financial services, media, brand and PR, financial services and tourism and hospitality?

Nesta recently published a policy brief on innovative firms which talked about the UK not having produced ‘Gorillas’ like Google and Microsoft. It’s often said that if Bill Gates had started Microsoft in the UK he’d now be heading up the biggest software business in Guildford i.e. we lack the aggressive ambition to grow in the UK.

However many organisations are becoming increasingly distributed and outsourced. Over 40m US citizens are self employed ‘free agents’ and 20% of UK workforce will soon be working from home. Whilst the UK would surely benefit from more brands that act as hubs in the global economy, there are many examples of small companies or even individuals who act as powerful nodes which can be more agile, responsive and dare I say it, innovative.


  1. “BCG sent the 17-question survey electronically in November to the 2,500 largest global corporations by market value”. As it says in the bible, “you reap what you sow”. These guys are immersed in BIG and almost all a long way from the cutting-edge. I agree that this “beauty parade” survey tells us what we know already. Maybe time for “The Alternative Innovation Index”?

  2. Top?So another of those lists of the world’s top brands is out. Meanwhile, Roland notes with scepticism a new list of the “most innovative” companies. As Roland saysOver 40m US citizens are self employed ‘free agents’ and 20% of UK…

  3. Sorry for the delay in responding Roland! I am more interested in the criteria for selection than the candidates i.e. what do we mean by ‘alternative’. Personally I would focus not on product innovations but innovations in the business model/value chain resulting in a better (more equitable, involved, sustainable etc) relationship between ‘customer’ and ‘producer/supplier’ i.e. its not just what we do, its the way that we do it (I think I hear a song coming on here….). Best.

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