BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Sep 26, 2013) - While technology and telecommunications companies once again top The Boston Consulting Group's (BCG) survey of most innovative companies in 2013, the global automobile industry is staking a powerful claim for its resurgent capabilities. Automakers hold 3 of the top 10 places in the new survey released today, as well as 9 of the top 20 and 14 of the top 50 spots.

BCG has surveyed across a wide range of countries and industries since 2005 to help cast light on the state of innovation in global business. In its new report, "The Most Innovative Companies 2013: Lessons from Leaders," the firm reveals the 50 companies that this year's sample of over 1,500 international executives ranked as the most innovative.

The tech and telecom industries continued to take the lead on innovation, earning four of the top five and five of the top ten places on BCG's list. Many of these companies have demonstrated impressive staying power over the years:

  • Apple has been number one every year since 2005.
  • Google, which ranked number two from 2006 to 2012, placed third this year.
  • Samsung has been rising rapidly since 2008 and ranked number two in 2013, up from number 26 in 2008.
  • Microsoft and IBM have been in the top ten nearly every year since 2005.

But 2013 continues a trend that emerged last year, with automakers from around the world joining the list and moving up rapidly. It may not come as a surprise that electric-car company Tesla entered the list for the first time this year at number 41, but two traditional manufacturers, Ford and BMW, muscled their way into the number eight and nine spots, respectively, joining Toyota in the top-ten group. General Motors moved up 16 places, and Volkswagen accelerated through 31 spots. Honda and Daimler (parent company of Mercedes-Benz) returned to the list, both in the top 20.

"Tech and telecom still rule a big part of the innovation roost," said Kim Wagner, a BCG senior partner and coauthor of the report. "But we are also seeing a resurgence in recognition for the ability of traditional manufacturers to innovate in product, process, and technology. Auto companies are leading the way."

BCG added a new category to its 2013 survey -- Up-and-Coming Companies -- companies that are still relatively young or have yet to reach the scale of the top 50 global giants but are nonetheless making themselves known for innovation. Not surprisingly, many of these up-and-comers are innovating around the latest technologies -- social media, mobile applications, and cloud-based services -- with almost all leveraging mobile platforms.

The 2013 report -- part of BCG's 50th anniversary Game Changing Program -- also examines companies and innovation through the lens of what gives successful innovators their edge. For the first time, BCG asked respondents to rate their own companies' innovation performance relative to their peers. Approximately one-fifth rated their companies' performance as strong, another fifth assessed their performance as weak, and about 60 percent said it was neutral or average.

The report also singles out five factors that lead to strength in innovation:

  • Senior-management commitment
  • The ability to leverage intellectual property 
  • Customer focus
  • Innovation portfolio management
  • Well-defined and governed processes

The difference between strong and weak innovators on several of these attributes is striking. For example, the role of senior management in determining which ideas to move into product development is particularly pronounced among companies in the top quintile of innovators: 83 percent say it is often or very often a driving force in this regard, compared with only 55 percent of companies in the bottom quintile.

Strong innovators also listen to customers. The views of key customers play a significant role in the innovation and new-product programs of 73 percent of strong innovators, compared with only 42 percent of weaker companies and only 56 percent overall.

"Companies that continually create value over the long term -- meaning decades or more -- learn how to ingrain the ability into their corporate makeup; it becomes part of their culture and DNA," said Andrew Taylor, BCG partner and a coauthor of the report. "They create value, jobs, and growth because of their ability to institutionalize innovation."

Taylor noted that more than half of the most innovative companies on the 2013 list are more than 50 years old, and a dozen can trace their roots to the nineteenth century.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

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