In 2015, the MIT Technology Review published their annual 50 Smartest Companies list. The goal is for the magazine's editors to present the top 50 companies based upon innovations they have brought forward in the year of the publication. The MIT Technology Review allows for outside submissions, but the final decision on who makes the list and their rank/order is fully in the hands of the MIT Technology Review.
In this article, I want to highlight the company that landed in the number one spot, as well as highlight the top three companies which are categorized in the technology space.
#1 Overall - Tesla Motors
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Tesla Motors made the list, given the focus on innovation that the California-based premium electric vehicle manufacturer maintains. In fact, in 2014, Tesla announced that self-driving capability is a core part of their mission.
A year after they announced their first self-driving technology, the current version delivers a range of new features focused on safety and convenience to build upon their Autopilot system. In addition to their premium line of electric vehicles, Tesla is also a provider of energy storage and electric vehicle powertrain components.
#2 Overall - Xiaomi (#1 in Technology)
Xiaomi, the number two company on the list, is the number one technology company on the MIT Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies list for 2015. Lei Jun's private enterprise, headquartered in Beijing, is one of the largest makers of smartphones - trailing only to Samsung and Apple.
A key factor in the success of Xiaomi is their focus on maintaining tight control over their stock - allowing the ability to place cheaper batch orders as demand dictates. When coupled with limited availability flash sales, Xiaomi's goal is to ensure that supply never exceeds demand. Additionally, Xiaomi does not own a single brick-and-mortal presence - focusing instead on an online store. Finally, a connection to their online community has proven to be a positive approach for Xiaomi, leading to a strong and loyal consumer base.
#16 Overall - Apple (#2 in Technology)
Most are probably not surprised that Apple is on the MIT Technology Review's list, ranking 16th overall and the second technology company in 2015. However, Apple was not on the 2014 version of the list.
The release of the iPhone 6/6 Plus occurred after the 2014 50 Smartest Companies list was releasde, which provided a nudge for Apple's position in 2015. More importantly, Apple introduced both Apple Pay (in late 2014) and the Apple Watch product (in April 2015), likely providing the innovation boost needed to grab the attention of the MIT Technology Review.
#17 Overall - Voxel8 (#3 in Technology)
The number three technology company that came in 17th overall is Voxel8, a company focused on 3D printing. The core technology behind Voxel8 is based upon a decade of research from Harvard professor Jennifer A. Lewis and her team.
Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Voxel8 had a successful run within the 2015 period under the MIT Technology Review's microscope:
Gold Winner - MassChallenge Award
Partnership with MITRE to assist with building novel phased array structures
Strategic investment and technology development agreement with In-Q-Tel
Additionally, Voxel8 has been recognized by Fast Company, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Wall Street Journal and the BBC. The amount of innovation utilized in their additive manufacturing process certainly makes Voxel8 a company to watch in 2016.
The MIT Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies is certainly a document I recommend reading, as it provides insight into innovative companies which often fly under the radar. I am looking forward to the 2016 version later this year, to both see how those on the 2015 list continue to improve and to welcome new innovative companies to the list.
Have a really great day!