Most innovative tech companies?

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What tech companies are currently making the biggest steps forward nowadays besides the well known ones like Tesla?
 

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  • #3
berkeman
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What tech companies are currently making the biggest steps forward nowadays besides the well known ones like Tesla?
Tesla is a car company, with a problematic driverless control system/paradigm. Not sure that's a good example.

Were you thinking of a different innovative company started by Elon? https://www.spacex.com/

Can you post some links to innovative companies that you've been looking at? Depending on the business sector, there are indeed some good examples...
 
  • #4
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Tesla is a car company, with a problematic driverless control system/paradigm. Not sure that's a good example.

Were you thinking of a different innovative company started by Elon? https://www.spacex.com/

Can you post some links to innovative companies that you've been looking at? Depending on the business sector, there are indeed some good examples...
I guess I was referring to any company run by Elon :D
I'm curious about companies involved with quantum computing. The only one I know about so far is D-Wave.
 
  • #5
Astronuc
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I guess I was referring to any company run by Elon :D
I'm curious about companies involved with quantum computing. The only one I know about so far is D-Wave.
I was going to ask, "Innovative on what piece of technology?" Alphabet/Google is doing a lot.

One has mentioned quantum computing, then there are the modeling and simulation programs used by QC, or High Performance Computing (HPCs).

There are innovations in energy, sustainable resource development (clean water), buildings, transportation, communications, manufacturing (e.g., additive manufacturing and nanoscale technology), materials characterization, analytical systems, detection systems, clean water, waste processing and reclamation, recycling, health care, . . . . .
 
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  • #6
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Tesla is a car company, with a problematic driverless control system/paradigm. Not sure that's a good example.
I'm in principle opposed to non-occupied vehicles operating on the public highways -- even if they have a lower accident rate, they don't contain any lives, so they inflict risk to life without taking risk to to life -- I think it's unconscionable.
 
  • #7
Klystron
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To the above lists of technological innovators consider companies of which Raytheon Technologies (rtx) remains a prominent example. Though described now as primarily an aerospace corporation, Raytheon has produced powerful radio-frequency (RF) devices for many decades. The symbol rtx appears often in circuit diagrams and radar textbooks to indicate an RF transmitter. RTX epitomizes practical applied physics.

Dating myself again, Lockheed-Martin Corporation remains a force for innovation in aviation. Both LMC and rtx corporation are regularly vilified in the press particularly for producing and profiting from advanced weapons and related war materials.

@russ_watters suggested examining patent applications and awards to determine innovative tech companies. To those corporations sponsoring patents one could compare lists of industry leaders most vilified and hated but frequently mentioned as innovators by popular media. I used negative press mentions and articles to reduce the influence of corporations with powerful public relations departments, but positive product reviews can also inform.
 
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  • #8
StatGuy2000
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It would depend on how one measures such things. One way of measuring might be by patents awarded (though perhaps that is "most" and not "biggest"?):
https://www.statista.com/statistics/274825/companies-with-the-most-assigned-patents/

Tesla isn't on the list, but several other car companies are.
I'm curious about the link with the companies with the most assigned patents. Specifically, I wonder if these are in fact a good measure of innovation, given that some of the patents of these companies may have been the results of mergers/acquisitions. Especially when you consider that IBM has the most # of patents, given their acquisition of companies like Toronto-based fin-tech company Algorithmics back in 2011 (which they sold to SS&C back in December 2019, btw).
 
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Especially when you consider that IBM has the most # of patents, given their acquisition of companies like Toronto-based fin-tech company Algorithmics back in 2011
Are you saying without Algorithmics IBM would not be on top? IBM claims that they've been #1 for 27 years.
 
  • #10
StatGuy2000
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Are you saying without Algorithmics IBM would not be on top? IBM claims that they've been #1 for 27 years.
That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm merely giving an example of how IBM's #1 rank in terms of patents could have been achieved through acquisitions of other tech companies (and thus inheriting patents from those acquisitions), rather than anything within the corporate culture of IBM today involving innovation.

The same arguments could be made for Samsung (#2 in terms of number of patents), or the other companies in that list. Hence number of patents may not be a good measure of how innovative a company actually is.
 
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IBS leads the patent list, but that's at least partially because it is so big. Sure they got almost 10,000 patents last year, but that's over 350,000 employees.
 
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  • #12
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Innovation <> patents... so there goes most of the posts.

Musk's stuff certainly seems on top, at least in the public eye : spaceships, electric road-vehicles, tunnel-boring machines, vacuum-tube transport, solar-panels that look like shingles, probably some other stuff. And, of course a pickup truck that looks like a sci-fi movie prop from the 1970's (notwithstanding that if they make another one at a more reasonable size, I'll sign up)
 
  • #13
russ_watters
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I'm curious about the link with the companies with the most assigned patents. Specifically, I wonder if these are in fact a good measure of innovation, given that some of the patents of these companies may have been the results of mergers/acquisitions. Especially when you consider that IBM has the most # of patents, given their acquisition of companies like Toronto-based fin-tech company Algorithmics back in 2011 (which they sold to SS&C back in December 2019, btw)....
[separate post]
I'm merely giving an example of how IBM's #1 rank in terms of patents could have been achieved through acquisitions of other tech companies (and thus inheriting patents from those acquisitions), rather than anything within the corporate culture of IBM today involving innovation.
Just to make sure it's clear; that link was for patents granted in 2019. I don't know if this counts patents granted in 2019 to companies bought by IBM in 2019 prior to IBM buying them (for work done prior to IBM's purchase), but I suspect even if it does that would be a tiny number of patents.

I think what you are trying to say is that in general a business unit of IBM, that was acquired from another company, that then produces a patent for IBM shouldn't be counted on that list - even if it's been part of IBM for years. Why? The culture of a company is the sum-total of all of its parts. Given IBM's age and large number of acquisitions over a long time, it would be impossible and pointless to try to separate-out all of the impacts of the acquisitions and try to identify what was "really" IBM.

Note: All tech companies do this. It's just good business. You see an innovative startup that needs money to reach its potential, so you buy it. It's a win for both. Oculus is owned by facebook, for example.
IBS leads the patent list, but that's at least partially because it is so big. Sure they got almost 10,000 patents last year, but that's over 350,000 employees.
Sure, even with using patents as a stick, there is more than one way to measure. Total number of patents might be "total innovation". Or you could divide by thousands of employees and get a measure of "innovative intensity".

The patent measure, though, isn't a measure of impact, if many of those patents are mundane or not used. Identifying technological impact of companies is more qualitative and more difficult, but I think an obvious one would be Apple (if we're going back 15 years) for pioneering the smart phone. Also, biotech/pharma companies, such as Novartis, which was the first to get a CAR-T cancer treatment approved.

I think the jury is still out on Tesla. At its core it is a car company and the idea of an electric car is pretty old and mundane, but the potential still exists for it to be impactful. What is telling to me is a comparison with Apple: Apple has always been an innovator and pioneer, but at a premium price. Often they were worth it, but they were always later eclipsed by lower-cost competitors. And that's ok -- that's part of what happens when you are an innovator. But it hasn't happened with Tesla yet, and to me that is a sign that unlike smartphones, electric cars aren't something everyone wants right now. It's a niche product for a certain enthusiast group. It may break-out, but it hasn't yet.
 
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  • #14
StatGuy2000
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Just to make sure it's clear; that link was for patents granted in 2019. I don't know if this counts patents granted in 2019 to companies bought by IBM in 2019 prior to IBM buying them (for work done prior to IBM's purchase), but I suspect even if it does that would be a tiny number of patents.

I think what you are trying to say is that in general a business unit of IBM, that was acquired from another company, that then produces a patent for IBM shouldn't be counted on that list - even if it's been part of IBM for years. Why? The culture of a company is the sum-total of all of its parts. Given IBM's age and large number of acquisitions over a long time, it would be impossible and pointless to try to separate-out all of the impacts of the acquisitions and try to identify what was "really" IBM.

Note: All tech companies do this. It's just good business. You see an innovative startup that needs money to reach its potential, so you buy it. It's a win for both. Oculus is owned by facebook, for example.
Actually, that is not what I'm saying. What I was trying to impart is that the number of patents a company has is not an especially good measure of a company's innovation. Part of this is due to what I described earlier (about acquisitions), but more generally I feel that measuring innovation via the # of patents almost by definition leads to a bias for large companies (like IBM) over, say, startups or small companies. However, if I had to guess, I would imagine that startups engaging in bringing new products or services (often based on cutting-edge research) could be seen to be more "innovative" than large companies with their bureaucracies.

[As an aside: it is certainly true that tech firms engage in acquisitions all the time, and I agree with you that it is good business (usually), for both the acquiring and the acquired. Although that is tangential to the issue of innovation.]

In addition, you make an excellent point below:

Sure, even with using patents as a stick, there is more than one way to measure. Total number of patents might be "total innovation". Or you could divide by thousands of employees and get a measure of "innovative intensity".

The patent measure, though, isn't a measure of impact, if many of those patents are mundane or not used. Identifying technological impact of companies is more qualitative and more difficult, but I think an obvious one would be Apple (if we're going back 15 years) for pioneering the smart phone. Also, biotech/pharma companies, such as Novartis, which was the first to get a CAR-T cancer treatment approved.

I think the jury is still out on Tesla. At its core it is a car company and the idea of an electric car is pretty old and mundane, but the potential still exists for it to be impactful. What is telling to me is a comparison with Apple: Apple has always been an innovator and pioneer, but at a premium price. Often they were worth it, but they were always later eclipsed by lower-cost competitors. And that's ok -- that's part of what happens when you are an innovator. But it hasn't happened with Tesla yet, and to me that is a sign that unlike smartphones, electric cars aren't something everyone wants right now. It's a niche product for a certain enthusiast group. It may break-out, but it hasn't yet.
A patent is only as useful as to the extent that it has an impact on the market or on society. The example of Apple for the MP3 player and the smart phone and biotech/pharma companies (the industry where I work in, btw) are the perfect examples. Many patents that companies may hold may not have much impact, either on their intellectual property, their revenues, or even in terms of society as a whole.

Again as an aside, I'm agnostic as to whether Tesla is an innovator or not, or whether electric cars may break out or not.
 
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