Apple, Google, Tesla ranked world's most innovative companies: BCG

Nearly 70 percent of the world's most innovative companies in 2016 were American, according to a new survey of global executives released on Thursday.

Apple, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix took the top six spots in the annual poll of 50 companies conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which drew on responses from more than 1,500 C-suite leaders.

Apple topped BCG's list for the 11th straight year, which isn't surprising given the massive amount it spends on research and development (R&D). The consumer electronics giant invested $10 million into R&D for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 24, 2016, its financial statement showed.

Meanwhile, Google's problem solving tactics and its famous '20 percent rule,' which encourages employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time to passion projects, ensured the search giant stayed in second place for the third straight year.

Two Asian firms managed to make it into the top ten rankings, with South Korea's Samsung Group at number seven, followed by Japan's Toyota Motor in eighth place. A total of six Asian players were on the list in total.

Ten European companies were featured, including Bayer at number 11, BMW at number 14 and Daimler at number 16.

Honda Motor, BT Group and Procter & Gamble rounded out the last three spots on BCG's report.

"Given faster-changing markets-and the fact that even in more traditional sectors technology is becoming a key differentiator-a not-invented-here mindset can be fatal," said BCG partner Andrew Taylor.

"Today's most successful innovators strike a strategic balance between internal and external innovation. They are smart and efficient at scanning for external ideas-and deft at bringing them inside."

BCG's research found that the majority of strong innovators took an analytical approach to the pursuit of new ideas, with 65 percent discovering fresh perspectives from social networks and big data mining.

Leading innovators also complement traditional vehicles such as joint ventures with newer approaches like corporate venture capital and incubators to foster a more outward-looking culture, BCG noted. For example, 62 percent of strong innovators used incubators, the report found.

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