Global Top 100 Innovators

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 12:58
Bob Stembridge

Bob Stembridge

Bob Stembridge, Thomson Reuters

It’s important to consider what makes companies thrive, and certainly one of the key elements to success is innovation. Companies that embrace innovation thrive and grow, and the countries where they do business reap these benefits as well.

For the past several years, talk about innovation has permeated news stories, corporate boardrooms and government forums. This is so true that the term “innovation” itself has become a buzzword of the 21st century, especially as companies and nations grapple with a shifting global economy, look for answers to a financial crisis of nearly unprecedented proportions and work to create the next era of opportunity for future generations.

In late 2011 we created a Top 100 Global Innovator program report,  2011 Top 100 Global InnovatorsSM, that recognized the companies and institutions that led the world in innovation activity. The 100 global innovator companies are geographically dispersed, with representation from North America, Asia and Europe. The methodology for choosing the global innovators is based on four principle criteria: patent approval success rate, global reach of patent portfolio, patent influence in terms of citations and overall patent volume. Insights that can be gleaned from studying patent information prompted us to develop a program that measures innovation from an unbiased and scientific perspective.

Patent activity has always been an indicator of innovation. However, innovation comprises much more than just patent filing volume. As such, we developed a range of metrics based on various facets of innovation that relate to patenting and science. The Thomson Reuters 2011 Top 100 Global Innovators are companies that invent on a significant scale; are working on developments that are acknowledged as innovative by patent offices across the world and by their peers; and whose inventions are so important that the companies seek global protection for them.

Looking at the geographical distribution of the Top 100 innovative companies, we see that 40 percent are from the United States, 31 percent are from Europe and 29 percent are from Asia. Interestingly, the latter comprises companies from Japan and Korea only.

Companies from other Asia Pacific regions, such as India, are not yet patenting at the rate that would be featured on the Top 100 Global Innovators list. The exception to this is China, where some companies are beginning to file large numbers of patents. But this development is relatively recent and so would not yet score highly, either on success or influence measures. Perhaps more importantly, Chinese companies are not yet filing patents widely so also would not score well (yet) on the globalization measure. As we show in another Thomson Reuters report, Chinese Patenting, innovation in China is domestically focused. This report also confirms our previous prediction that China would become the number one publisher of invention patent applications worldwide in 2011. This has in fact happened already.

Here are just a few companies of interest in the Top 100 Global Innovators list:

  • 3M Company – USA – Chemical Manufacturing
  • ABB, Ltd. – Switzerland – Electrical Products Manufacturing
  • Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. – USA – Semiconductor & Electronic Component Manufacturing

You can see the full report, featuring all 100 companies including Apple, BASF, Denso Corporation and DuPont, at

Being recognized on the Top 100 Global Innovator list is a prestigious distinction. It confirms an organization’s commitment to innovation, to the protection of ideas and to the commercialization of inventions. Global patenting is costly and signals a company’s belief that an invention is commercially important. The award also emphasizes a company’s recent success in obtaining granted patents in relation to the number of published applications it filed, a quality that more closely reflects the degree of originality.

For insights on key take-aways from the report, a brief podcast is available at Our China Report discussing the key expectations of China business for 2012 is also available at

Bob Stembridge is an Intellectual Property Analyst with Thomson Reuters. He graduated from the University of Sussex, UK with an Honours degree in Chemistry. He joined Derwent (one of the founding components of the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters) in 1980 and has held various roles in editorial, marketing, sales and product development over the years. Leaving in 1988 for interludes working as Senior Information Analyst specialising in patent analytics at British Petroleum and European Sales Liaison with Dialog, he returned to Thomson Reuters in 1996 and most recently became Customer Relations Manager with responsibility for liaison with customer user groups for the organisation. 

He is a member of ACS, CILIP and PIUG and is Secretary of CEPIUG and current Chair of PATMG. He currently serves on the CSA Trust Board of Trustees to which he was elected in February 2007.