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Most Innovative Companies Rankings 2021 – Pandemic revealing the most successful innovators

BCG Corporate Logo, Public Domain

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is an American company specialising in management consulting, which has its headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. Its areas of expertise include corporate development, business growth and innovation. Every year it publishes a ranking of the most innovative companies worldwide.

The metrics of the ranking include a survey of 1,600 company executives worldwide, as well as a performance evaluation of companies by means of taking the averaged normalised scores to calculate the overall ranking. The performance was evaluated in four areas, including: Global Mindshare – the number of votes from global innovation executives; Industry Peer View – the number of votes from executives of the same industry; Industry Disruption – cross-industry votes; value creation – total shareholder return. The 2021 list of the most innovative companies can be viewed on the website of BCG.

Also, for this year’s ranking, respondents were asked to answer several questions pertaining to the applicability of their innovation systems which were then evaluated using BCG’s newly designed i2i innovation-to-impact benchmarking framework. This framework assesses the economical potency of a company with the help of ten innovation system factors, including, for example, the innovation strategy, the operating model and critical supportive capabilities, as well as the impact of specific innovative practices. The results gained from this evaluation were then compared to BCG’s database of almost 1,200 companies.

This year’s ranking finds that increased readiness for innovation is responsible for high value creation and also boosts the resistance of a company to external non-beneficial influences, such as a pandemic. It is small wonder therefore that the top innovators in this year’s list are especially successful concerning this parameter and have even managed to outperform the index by 17 percent.

According to the BCG 2021 ranking, pharma companies had the strongest performance last year, alongside technology and software companies. The survey also reveals that there exist vast regional differences in the readiness of companies to embrace innovation. China and the US are at the forefront of countries most prepared to innovate.

Although many companies around the globe have clearly indicated their willingness to implement innovative ideas in corporate practices, only 20% of them have actually established efficient innovation systems that are able to convert ideas into marketable results. Only if companies were ready to invest in innovation as well as having had innovative business platforms and practices installed, the report finds, could they outperform competition regarding revenues from products or services. Another finding of the survey is that innovative strength is also promoted by higher gender and ethnic diversity in the management tiers, which is generally the case in the top 50 companies.

The 2021 ranking comprises 33 companies which were already represented in last year’s list, 12 companies which have managed to re-enter the ranking after an absence of one or more years, as well as five new companies, primarily consisting of pharmaceutical companies.

The first three positions in the ranking are occupied by Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon, followed by Microsoft and Tesla in places four and five. The American electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla is renowned for churning out a lot of innovative ideas for energy storage systems, such as new cylindrical battery cells called 4860 cells,which can improve rapid charging,or its Powerwall system, a home solar energy storage system which has some of the highest capacity ratings of residential solar batteries. 

Places 6-10 were awarded mainly to technology companies like Samsung, IBM, Huawei, and Sony, with one pharmaceutical company occupying 10th position (Pfizer). The telecommunications giants Samsung and Huawei are important players in the renewable energy sector and are constantly designing new sustainable energy systems, including wind power, solar power and energy storage installations.

All in all, the USA is once again in the lead, with 27 (mainly tech and pharma) companies represented in the top 50 (two more than last year). As a result of its fewer tech and software companies, Europe occupies only 11 places on this year’s list, as opposed to last year where there were 15 European companies included in the ranking. Europe, however, exhibited high competitive strength in other sectors including the automotive, medical, pharmaceutical, and fashion industry. China, meanwhile,received only 4 spots among the top 50, but Chinese companies are very likely to be more frequently represented in the future.