Top 10 global innovation leaders in manufacturing

Manufacturing Global lists its Top 10 global innovation leaders in manufacturing from BCG’s latest ‘Most Innovative Companies 2020’ report

Battling global markets that rapidly evolve and fluctuate, leading innovators “need a well-tuned innovation system that can spot emerging product, service, and business model opportunities,” says BCG, one that can be rapidly developed and successfully scaled over and over again.

BCG states that successful serial innovators get three things right:

  1. They are committed to making innovation a priority, and decisive when it comes to investments and ambitions
  2. They embrace the value of scale 
  3. They develop their innovation system to drive a cycle of continuous success

In this Top 10 Manufacturing Global lists its Top 10 global innovators in the industry.

10: Siemens

With a rich innovative history of more than 170 years, Siemens has pioneered many inventions that have shaped the way the world operates today. Such inventions include the Pointer telegraph which revolutionised telecommunications, the Dynamo which laid the foundations for today’s electrification, and SIMATIC which has been reshaping automation for decades.

“Siemens makes its mark with innovations that count –innovations that are not merely new but actually redefine market standards as new products, solutions, or services,” says Siemens.



09: Volkswagen

Driven by its mission to “shaping mobility,  for generations to come,” by “becoming a sustainable mobility provider with a role model function in the areas of environment, safety and integrity.”

Since 2019, Volkswagen Group Innovation has formed the basis for a global innovation ecosystem. The group dedicates its innovation - using a wide range of skills and international network - to decarbonisation, security, conserving resources and future mobility.



08: Intel

With big ambitions, Intel is driven by its mission to “create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth.” Central to this mission is innovation, which Intel drives to make the world safer, build healthy and vibrant communities, and increases productivity. 

Working relentlessly to drive the digital revolution, Intel’s innovations in the industry are rooted in Gordon Moore’s (Co-Founder) prediction in 1965 that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years. “The insight, known as Moore’s Law, became the golden rule for the electronics industry, and a springboard for innovation.”



07: Adidas

The guiding principle of adidas founder - Adi Dassler is one that is simple: to make athletes better. It is this, coupled with the desire to manufacture products that deliver high performance in a sustainable way, that puts innovation at the core of the business. 

“The choice of materials and how they are manufactured are the two main ways by which our innovation teams can influence the environmental footprint of our products,” says adidas, who is taking affirmative action to tackle plastic waste, recycle materials and reduce its use of virgin plastic.



06: Nike

While the Nike brand can be described in many ways, its mission remains simple to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

With thought and deliberate strategy Nike reaches across multiple sports, lifestyle categories, and price points, diversifying its opportunities for innovation and long-term growth.

“Behind every corner of the Nike business is a singular focus – innovation. It is our nature to innovate. It is the fuel that powers our performance,” says Nike. “It’s our connection to athletes and consumers that allows us to create game-changing technologies and products.



05: Tesla

Founded in 2003, Tesla’s mission remains as true today as it did then, “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

It is this dedication to sustainable transport that has fueled Tesla’s relentless innovation, forging partnerships with others in the industry to expand the market for electric vehicles (EVs). Its recognition of the importance of advancing battery technology, has dubbed Tesla as a pioneer in the EV battery industry. 



04: Sony

With over 70 years of innovation under its belt, Sony has had many firsts over the years including Japan’s first magnetic tape recorder in 1950, the first commercially successful transistor radio in 1995, the first commercial battery-powered portable TV in 1959, the first video cassette recorder (VCR) in 1971 and the first commercial consumer grade camcorder in 1983.

When it comes to innovation Akio Morita Co-Founder of Sony, offers three phases of wisdom: ‘try innovation by elimination’, ‘Ignore the doubters, believe in yourself’, and ‘ignore focus groups and instead anticipate the needs of customers’.



03: Huawei

Over the past 30 years, Huawei has invested more than US$100bn in research and development, “innovative activity is in the corporate DNA of Huawei,” says David Harmon, Director EU Public Affairs, Huawei.

In 2019, Huawei outlined its future plans transitioning from Innovation 1.0 to Innovation 2.0. “In Innovation 1.0, we have focused on technological and engineering innovations to meet customer needs. In Innovation 2.0, we will focus on theoretical breakthroughs and inventions driven by our shared vision for the future,” said William Xu, Director of the Board and the President of the Institute of Strategic Research at Huawei. 



02: Samsung

Devoted to “creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society,” Samsung sets high values for its people and technologies. The electronics company heavily invests in its people, with an innovative culture built on training, repeatable methods and an elite creative formation.

Samsung’s dedication to innovation can be seen in its ‘Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center (SSIC), where the electronics manufacturer strives to discover and develop groundbreaking technologies collaborating with visionary entrepreneurs and innovators to help people around the world lead happier, healthier, richer lives.

“Through innovative, reliable products and services, talented people, a responsible approach to business and global citizenship, and collaboration with our partners and customers, the Samsung Strategy and Innovation Center is taking the world in imaginative new directions,” says the SSIC.



01: Apple

With strong Q1 results for 2021 totalling US$111.4bn in revenue, Apple’s title as the world’s ‘most valuable company’ certainly rings true, but Apple’s CEO Tim Cook states that “this quarter for Apple wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless and innovative work of every Apple team member worldwide.”

Over the years Apple has had many influential innovations in the manufacturing of technological devices, such as the iPhone in 2007 which for the first time offered a full, non-scaled down version of the internet. 

Today, Apple continues to strive to take its innovations to the next level, manufacturing its own computer chips known as the M1 processor. What previously required multiple chips to deliver its features, are now combined into a single system on a chip (SoC). “Every Mac with M1 is transformed into a completely different class of product. This isn’t an upgrade. It’s a breakthrough,” says Apple.




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