MIT Technology Review recently published its 50 Smartest Companies 2015 report and it makes for some interesting reading. Put it this way, some of the world’s biggest corporations don’t even make the top 10.
Microsoft only just sneaks in at number 28
Google, for example, is ranked 12th, Amazon 13th, Apple is only 16th and Facebook 29th. Further down the list, Philips grabs the 32nd spot, IBM the 46th, while Microsoft just sneaks in at number 48 thanks to its HoloLens technology.
So who did make the all-important top 10? MIT’s editors only considered companies developing “truly innovative technology and a business model that is both practical and ambitious.” These are the high tech outfits and the innovative products that topped the list. In reverse order…
Who hasn’t heard of Netflix? The on-demand, streaming video service has over 60 million subscribers and is watched in over 40 countries around the world. According to MIT, Netflix is on the list for “producing innovative original content and inking distribution deals with cable companies.” It received 31 Emmy nominations for its original programming in 2014.
Founded by Peter Rive, Lyndon Rive and Elon Musk, SolarCity is America’s largest solar power provider and has ambitions to be even bigger. As MIT points out, “the factory it is planning to build in Buffalo will be the Western Hemisphere’s largest manufacturer of silicon solar panels,” another step towards driving down the cost of renewable energy.
8. Juno Therapeutics
Juno is one of a number of companies working on cancer cures, but its technology is geared towards genetically engineering a patient’s own T cells (a type of white blood cell) to recognize and kill cancer cells. The Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) and T Cell Receptor (TCR) technologies may also “avoid the long-term side effects associated with current treatments,” the company says.
Worth over $200 billion, China’s Tencent is a media giant that embraces social networking, e-commerce and multiplayer online games — part Amazon, Google, Ebay, Facebook and Alibaba. It’s on the list because it’s one of the planet’s most-used Internet service portals and “is expanding by investing in companies inside and outside its home market.”
Another company you might not have heard of. SunEdison is a renewable energy provider that operates solar energy plants and wind farms, while supplying solar panels to homes and businesses. With a mission to provide electricity to the developing world, it also builds some of the world’s most efficient PV systems using high pressure fluidized bed reactor (HP-FBR) technology.
In a future where medicine will become more personalised and predictive, Counsyl already provides affordable DNA screening. Alongside the company’s Informed Pregnancy and Family Prep screens, the new Inherited Cancer Screen can give customers a heads-up on their chances of developing breast, ovarian, colon and various other types of cancer.
If you thought that Amazon was big, Alibaba is enormous. It’s a collection of several websites — Alipay (online payments), Aliyun (cloud computing services), Aliyun App Store (mobile), plus the Taobao and Tmall online stores. It handles over 80% of all online purchases in China and has eyes on international expansion.
With areas of expertise that include Oncology, Microbial Genomics and Infectious Disease Surveillance, MIT includes Illumina on its list because the company is “shifting its fast DNA-reading machines from research applications primarily to hospitals and cancer clinics.”
The Chinese electronics company might have started by producing Android-powered iPhone clones, but MIT says that the “fast-growing smartphone vendor is maturing beyond its original ‘cut-price Apple’ model with ideas like flash sales over its mobile messaging platform.” Xiaomi is now the third largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung and Apple.
And at number 1 on the list…
Not content with building some of the finest electric cars the world has ever seen, Elon Musk’s Tesla company is “extending its [Powerwall] battery technology from cars to residential and commercial applications.” The availability of cheap(ish) and efficient energy storage could accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources and revolutionise the way we generate electricity, both on a national and an individual level.