Innovation: 5 Important Takeaways From 2015

What have we learnt from innovation in 2015?


Every year Thomson Reuters compiles a list of the world's top 100 most innovative companies.

The company's methodology uses four main metrics: volume, success, globalization and influence. Its scope is extensive, covering organizations from across the globe. You can view the report here.

Here are the five key takeaways from it.

Asia still dominates

China's absence is more than made up for by the productivity of Japan. With 40 companies on the list, including Sony, Yamaha and Toyota, Japan, once again, sits at the top of the pile.

South Korea and Taiwan also feature, making Asia responsible for 44% of all companies on the list.

Innovation incentives need developing

Despite being home to Europe's biggest, and arguably most varied startup scene, no company from the United Kingdom made it onto the list. The country's low R&D expenditure, coupled with an underused patent system, are commonly cited as the main reasons for their absence.

London's extortionately expensive rental market threatens to cause a mass exodus, with one in four London tech firms considering relocation. In an attempt to prevent this, the UK government introduced an initiative called the 'Patent Box', which, assuming that the company fits the scheme's criteria, provides a 10% reduction in corporation tax from income made from patents.

Yet with patents so difficult to achieve - as mentioned before the UK has been limited in its patent uptake - it's difficult for companies to take advantage. As David Brown, the Founding Member of Top 100 Global Innovators - states: 'Patent Box legislation, does not have enough legacy yet to have had an impact.'

Semiconductor companies on the decline

The most significant year-on-year change was seen in the Semiconductor industry. While companies like Intel, Micron and Qualcomm still feature on the list, there has been a 43% decrease - going from 21 in 2014 to just 12 in 2015.

This, however, is not necessarily an indication that the industry is becoming less important, just that other industries are currently using new technologies and methods in a more efficient manner.

The fact remains that this is still the space's worst representation since the list's inception, implying that there is scope from the industry to make better use of new technologies.

Oil and gas companies on the rise

A 300% change might sound like a lot, but considering that in 2014 there were no oil and gas companies present, it's not quite the leap that the statistics would indicate.

Chevron and Exxon Mobile both reenter the list, while new entrant, Idemitsu Kosan, completes the three. An MIT Technology Review report stated that data is having a real impact on the industry, helping it become more efficient.

Patent reform is still influential

As mentioned in the Thomson Reuters report, patent reform is still having an important impact, changing the ways companies protect their innovations.

In 2015 alone we saw important updates to legislation in Europe and North America, most notably with 'America Invents Act', culminating in the Alice Corp vs CLS Bank International case.

The report does, however, prove that the patent system is an important part of innovation, with the UK's absence further evidence of this. 


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