The 'Fast Company' Top 50 Firms (Pt. 1)

Fast Company Magazine is issuing its annual list of the world's 50 most innovative companies. 

Many are firms centered outside the U.S., and many are privately held, but three of the top five among the "Fast 50" are publicly held, including top finisher Google , runner-up Apple , and parent General Electric , which finished fourth.  Rounding out the top five are the social-networking site Facebook and design firm Ideo.

  • Video: Watch the Fast Company interview (3 mins 43 secs)

Among those farther down the list are furniture maker Herman Miller

, at number 26, and iRobot, at number 31.

"Everyone knows the Aeron chair and the other office furniture," Fast Company staff writer Anya Kamenetz told CNBC.

"Herman Miller has a secret R&D op in Michigan, and last year, they created Convia, which is a new type of programmable system, a point-and-click system for electronics in an office...a high-tech personal office environment."

Kamenetz says iRobot has also branched out from its signature product, in this case the unique Roomba vacuum cleaner.

"They have a robot that they created," she said.  "They're sending about 3,000 of them to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it clears shoots audio, video, it clears out the land mines."

The Complete Fast 50 List (Pt. 1)