INSIGHT

The 11 cleverest companies 2017

Be inspired

The USA and China dominate MIT Technology Review’s list of 2017’s smartest companies, with none from the UK featuring.

While it’s a shame none of Blighty’s brightest and best made the grade, perhaps a look at the organisations that did is in order. After all, even Medium writer John McKenna, who covered the top 11 in Medium article These are the 11 smartest companies in 2017, admits that “most of us have never heard of them”.

There’s no time like the present to be informed and inspired, so without further ado, here’s the lowdown on the smartest firms on the planet…

A leading provider of processing power for AI software, Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia is valued at £67bn. Its secret? Producing the chips that power both the internet and cloud, while also creating autonomous driving technology that has the likes of Toyota sitting up and taking notice.

Elon Musk’s £9bn venture ‘designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft’. Based in Hawthorne, California, the startup will begin testing the world’s most powerful rocket later this year. As for long term goals? The organisation has its sights set on an interplanetary transport system.

Soon shots of vast Amazon warehouses will be splashed over newspapers with headlines like ‘The real Santa’s grotto’. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and valued at £355bn, Amazon has reinvented shopping for the digital age and is trialling everything from drone deliveries to a shop with no checkouts where users scan goods to be billed automatically.

It’s all in the genes, and this Mountain View, California-based company (valued at £0.81bn) has discovered a vast untapped market for individual genetic profiling. Using state-of-the-art technology, 23andMe can predict whether you’re more likely to suffer conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and depression. Prices start from £149 – but as the tests can turn up unexpected parentage, users are warned they might get more than they bargained for.

Based in Mountain View, California, Google’s parent company has its corporate fingers in lots of pies. From AI and autonomous vehicles to anti-aging and contact lenses that track glucose levels for diabetics, Alphabet is much more than the world’s most popular internet search engine. Worth around £499bn, it is also the highest valued company on the list.

The Chinese voice-recognition specialist is expanding into voice-activated technology for cars, homes, robots and schools. Based in Hefei and valued at £5bn, iFlytek has also established a fund to enable it to invest in AI-related startups at home and further afield.

Finding a cure for cancer has been Kite Pharma’s mission for the past three decades. Based in Santa Monica, California, and valued at £4.2bn, the organisation takes the body’s T-cells and modifies them to fight the disease. They’ve had particular success with treatment for aggressive non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Valued at £259bn, this Shenzhen-based corporation owns China’s biggest social network, WeChat. With over 900m monthly users, WeChat has been gradually extended to incorporate online gaming, shopping, music, videos, messaging and more. Some say it’s leading where other social networks follow, although a certain Mr Zuckerberg might beg to differ.

A biotechnology company based in Tarrytown, New York, Regeneron is using genetics in drug development. One project involving 500,000 volunteers will probe the connection between DNA and disease. Another is creating ‘one size fits all’ T-cells to fight tumours, which would make cancer treatment cheaper and more widely available.

‘We don’t follow footsteps, we create the path,’ is a fitting mantra for this Philadelphia-based genetic therapy company, which aims to eradicate genetic disease. Valued at £1.4bn, the firm has developed treatment for a progressive form of blindness and is testing ways to cure some forms of haemophilia, including using a virus to recode the faulty blood-clotting gene.

This facial recognition technology company is behind many of the most popular applications in China. Among the most useful is Alipay, an online payment platform that lets users log in using their face as ID. Face ++ is believed to have been the first facial recognition unicorn, having recently raised £107bn.

Let’s hope some British businesses make the list next year. Open Bionics anyone?

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