Chinese firms starting to think outside the box

Updated: 2014-11-18 13:12

By Chang Jun(China Daily USA)

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For anyone who thinks China and Chinese enterprises lack innovation and creativity, think again.

Top leaders and policy makers of the world's second-largest economy are now attaching unprecedented importance to technological innovation and creation, and the nation-wide proactive efforts are yielding fruit.

Chinese firms starting to think outside the box

In its recent annual report on the world's Top 50 Most Innovative Companies, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) included four Chinese companies on their list: computer technology company Lenovo ranked 23; smartphone-maker Xiaomi (35); Internet service portal Tencent (47); and networking and telecom equipment and service provider Huawei (50).

Wang Junming, counselor of science and technology with the Consulate General in San Francisco, said the concept of innovation has gone mainstream among Chinese enterprises and policy-makers and it's not surprising to see more and more Chinese companies embracing the spirit of innovation and thinking outside the box.

On Sept 30, 2013, members of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau led by General Secretary Xi Jinping paid a visit to Beijing's cutting-edge incubator Z-Park for a tour that highlighted China's new emphasis on innovation-driven development and economic growth.

The leaders heard presentations from such tech gurus as Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Lenovo; Robin Li, CEO of search engine Baidu, and Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi. They also talked with executives and scientists about new technologies such as additive manufacturing, cloud computing, nano materials, bio-chips and precise crop breeding, according to Xinhua.

"We must enhance awareness of unexpected challenges and grab the opportunities of the science and technology revolution," Xi said. "We can't wait, hesitate or slack off."

Xi added that implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development will decide the fate of the Chinese people, so the entire society must fully realize the importance of science, technology and innovation.

Since 2005, BCG has been ranking the top 50 most innovative companies from a list of 1,500 international companies across industries following a rigorous survey conducted among 1,500 senior executives.BCG researchers then wrap up their findings and reveal the 50 most innovative companies, weighted to incorporate relative three-year shareholder returns, revenue growth and margin growth.

According to BCG, a majority of strong innovators from the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - currently generate more than 20 percent of their sales from new products and services created within the past three years.Technology and telecom companies take 21 spots on the 2014 top 50 list, the most of any industry sector.Notably, this is the first time Xiaomi made the list, along with being ranked number one in the category of "up-and-coming companies", making Xiaomi the only company to receive both honors.

BCG describes an "up-and-coming" company as one that is still relatively young or has yet to reach the scale of the top 50 global giants, but is nonetheless making itself known for innovation.

Ahead of its countrymen Huawei and Tencent and behind Lenovo on the Top 50 list, Xiaomi trailed other global smartphone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Sony and LG in terms of innovation.

It took Xiaomi just four years to grow to be the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer. As of October, Xiaomi had sold 19 million smartphones worldwide, according to market researcher IHS iSuppli.

"Let's congratulate the four Chinese companies on being among the world's top innovators, and wish them more significant performance in the years to come," said Stanley Kwong, professor of marketing and business administration at the University of San Francisco.

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