Japan leads the world in innovative businesses while Australia fails to make the grade

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Shinjuku district in Tokyo
Shinjuku district is pictured in Tokyo in Japan, November 11, 2015. Reuters/Toru Hanai

Japan has been hailed the most innovative country in the world, with 40 of the nation’s companies listed in a global index of the top innovating businesses.

The 2015 Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators listed Canon, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Toshiba among the most innovative Japanese businesses.

Businesses were judged according to the volume and success of patents, according to Dave Brown, senior vice president of Thomson Reuters IP & Science.

"In today's hypercompetitive global marketplace, innovation requires much more than having a great idea.  True innovation occurs when organisations harness the power of intellectual property rights and commercial insight to bring an idea to life,” said Brown.

“The institutions on this year's list represent the current vanguard in innovation by pioneering new breakthroughs and organising their businesses to make new discoveries a reality."

Innovation Hotspots Japan leads the world with the highest number of innovative businesses, according to the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators list for 2015.  Reuters

The US came second with 35 companies. In contrast, Australian businesses failed to make the list despite innovative companies such as software group Atlassian and logistics software developer WiseTech Global.

According to leadership and innovation expert Associate Professor Ken Dovey from the University of Technology Sydney, this could be because ‘innovation’ is less likely to thrive in branch-office organisations compared to owner-led organisations, which are less common in Australia.

“The actual practise of innovation is a very political endeavour. By nature, innovation changes the status quo.”

Dovey said some Australians had found more success and support abroad.

“Venture capital in Australia is notoriously conservative, it’s very risk averse. We’ve had a lot of students with good ideas have to go to the US to get funding...they end up succeeding in the states with funding from there, or not quite making it.”

Although many technical ideas have come from Australia, Dovey said local commercialisation processes are less refined than those in the US.

“The coaching and the support structure I see from my perspective is inadequate. A lot of them don’t understand the commercialisation - they need a lot of coaching and guidance in that area.”

Atlassian filed a preliminary prospectus on Monday, revealing its annual revenue has reached $US320 million (AU$455 million) and its intention to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Some of the newest entrants into the 2015 Reuters list of top innovative businesses include Amazon and Yamaha Motors.

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