It might sound difficult to define what makes a smart company, but you know one when you see it. When such a company commercializes a truly innovative technology, things happen: leadership in a market is bolstered or thrown up for grabs. Competitors have to refine or rethink their strategies.
This is what the editors of MIT Technology Review looked for as we assembled this list. We didn’t count patents or PhDs; instead, we asked whether a company had made strides in the past year that will define its field. The biggest of these strides happened at Illumina, which is driving down the price of DNA sequencing to levels that will change the practice of medicine. We also found dramatic developments on the Web, in batteries, and even in agricultural technologies.
Familiar names such as Apple and Facebook aren’t on this list because reputation doesn’t matter. We’re highlighting where important innovations are happening right now.