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Unless you have been out of touch actually aboard the proverbial slow boat to China these last few years, you cannot fail to have marveled at the progress of the Chinese economy from fifth largest in the 1980’s to the second largest global economy behind only the US since 2011.

That growth started with the economic reforms of the 80’s which established special economic zones where private firms were allowed, and continued with later measures intended to open up China for investment and trade such as the re-opening of the Shanghai stock market for the first time in 40 years in 1989 and entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Innovation as economic growth engine

More recently, the role that innovation can play in driving economic growth has been recognized and embraced by the Chinese Government and features heavily in the latest five year plans (FYP). The 12th FYP laid out a number of goals including investment in science and technology education and R&D, further development of China’s intellectual property rights system, tax breaks and monetary incentives to increase indigenous innovation. These initiatives have had notable results. R&D spending as a proportion of GDP has risen to 2.1% in 2015 which compares favorably with global standards. The 13th FYP builds on this by laying out principles of innovation, coordination, green development, opening up and sharing. Innovation is further emphasized in the “National Strategic Framework for Innovation-Driven Development” which lays out the framework to encourage industry leaders to build high-level R&D institutions and form a comprehensive R&D infrastructure.

Innovation does not occur in a vacuum. It is created, nurtured and realized by the collective efforts and collaboration of individuals within structured organizations. The most successful innovative organizations are leading the way to a better future with improved solutions to the most pressing of problems.

As an organization committed to accelerating the pace of innovation by providing trusted insights and analytics to customers around the world, Clarivate Analytics is proud to present its new report “2016 Top 100 Chinese Innovators” which aims to identify the leading 100 innovative organizations in China using the power of data analysis in an unbiased and scientific way.


Using our proprietary patent data, we assess four criteria to establish the innovation level of an organization. These are:

  • patenting volume;
  • success in obtaining granted patents;
  • globalization of patent filings; and
  • influence as measured by citations.

The scores for each of these metrics are merged to produce a combined score for each organization and this is used to determine the Top 100 most innovative Chinese organizations.

Key findings

This year’s Chinese Top 100 are from 23 different industries, ranging from traditional industries such as Primary Metals and Electricity, to emerging high tech industries such as Telecom Services and Media Internet. The Automotive sector takes top spot followed by Domestic Appliances and Electric Power Generation & Supply.

The Chinese Top 100 originate from a relatively concentrated range of locations in China. The headquarters for the 100 organizations on the list are in 15 of the 31 provinces of Mainland China, mostly in the eastern region. Beijing is unquestionably the innovation hub of the country with 43 companies on the list. The next most innovative province is Guangdong with 21 corporations. Shanghai, Shandong,Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui all perform strongly.

The Chinese Top 100 overall shows a good mix of state-owned enterprises and private enterprises, but Media Internet industry is an especially good demonstration of innovation and strengths of private enterprises: all five Media Internet companies that make the list are private. These are the industry giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (collectively known as “BAT”), a young player Xiaomi, and 360.com, dedicated to network security.

Globalization analysis shows clearly that Chinese companies are, in general, focusing more on protecting innovation in the domestic market with the average size of a patent family being only slightly above one patent filing per family. Notable exceptions to this include Huawei with filings across 16 countries globally and Alibaba with filings across 11 international regions.

The full findings, analysis and commentary are given in the report which is available at http://ip-science.thomsonreuters.com.cn/top100chineseinnovators/index.html  (in Chinese).