Patriotic types will be aghast to hear not a single British company made it onto a list of the 100 most innovative companies in the world, trailing far behind our continental rival France, where 10 made the cut.
But while France and its lagging economy beat the manufacturing might of Germany, which accounted for 4%, the list was comprehensively dominated by Japanese and American firms (40% and 35% respectively).
The lists takes into account the volume of patents filed and their success, globalisation and, perhaps more nebulously, impact. But by those metrics, even British patent powerhouses Dyson and ARM didn’t measure up.
Amazon, which has expanded its cloud services business massively in recent years, debuted on Thomson Reuters’ Top 100 Global Innovators, while ageing tech giants IBM and Hewlett Packard dropped out.
Tesla didn’t make the cut either, perhaps because much of its electric car technology isn’t actually all that new, despite Elon Musk’s reputation as an entrepreneurial genius. Nonetheless, automotive was the third-most innovative sector, with 10% of the list, while semiconductors & electrical components and chemicals tied in first place with 12% each.
One could argue that it’s impossible to measure what ‘innovation’ really is, and that Britain - with forward-thinking heritage brands like Burberry and a booming fintech start-up scene – is actually pretty good at it.
On the other hand, Japan’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D is 3.47% compared to 1.63% in the UK. And ‘innovators’ does have a better ring to it than ‘really good at filing and making money off patents.’ In an age where high tech is the answer to questions over the future of developed countries’ manufacturing, export and productivity, that’s something undoubtedly worth quantifying.