The 10 Most Innovative Companies In China

From Huawei to Tencent, these companies are reshaping markets and reimagining industries.


01 / Dawning Information Industry >>

For being China’s leading supercomputer-maker. Its Nebulae is the world’s third-fastest, and Dawning aims to take on its chipmaker, Nvidia, with its own chip, called the Loongson.

02 / Huawei >>

For building the future of telecoms. Forty-five of the world’s top 50 telecoms companies have used Huawei products–perhaps the greatest recognition that it’s been able to cast off China’s image as a nation of imitators rather than innovators. The company has created products for demanding customers in unexpected places, including systems able to withstand Siberia’s frigid winters and bulletproof machinery for a Mexican telecom operator.

03 / Changchun Dacheng Industrial Group

For being the first company in the world to mass-produce plant-based glycols, which can be used as a building block for cosmetics, plastics, and household cleaning products. (These types of glycols are typically derived from oil.) It recently announced a partnership with a Danish company, Novozymes, to develop tech that turn agricultural waste into sugars, which can then be turned into glycols.


04 / ZTE

For its whiz-bang mobile products. The telecoms-equipment maker will build whatever a company wants, without worrying about branding. Its highest-profile foray into the U.S. market: The Sprint ZTE Peel, a skin for the iPod Touch that enables users to get 3G wireless access, wherever they are, without a phone contract.

05 / CSR

For leading the charge on high-speed rail in the U.S. The Chinese upstart (and GE partner) will bid for California’s high-speed rail project; its rivals include Kawasaki, the Japanese heavy-manufacturing giant. In the past year, CSR has also won contracts to supply locomotives and train equipment to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Brazil.

06 / Tencent

For turning online gaming into a massive profit generator. Tencent also boasts well over 100 million users, and has teamed with Groupon to capitalize on the discount-buying trend in China.


07 / WuXi PharmaTech

For reporting stellar earnings and growing its reputation as the leader in outsourced contract research–despite a failed merger with Charles River.

08 / BYD

For developing cutting-edge battery tech, even as it audaciously attempts to grow its plug-in hybrid auto sales. For the past two years, BYD’s F3 sedan has been a top-selling car in China, and as much as 40% of the world’s cell phones use BYD batteries. The company is also implementing a massive solar-power project in an effort to move the Chinese electrical grid toward renewable energy, because it understands that an electric car in present-day, coal-fueled China isn’t all that emissions-friendly.

09 / MAD Architects

For being one of the first Chinese design firms to win major projects outside of China. MAD is the atelier of Ma Yansong, a 35-year-old architecture rock star whose curvaceous Absolute Towers in Toronto–dubbed the Marilyn Monroe buildings by locals, because of their voluptuousness–will open later this year.


10 / Hermès

For launching a domestic brand focused exclusively on the Chinese market–a bold and clever move that will help the traditional French fashion house capitalize on the growing Chinese obsession with the high-end (especially those labels made famous outside the country).

Browse our list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies 2011

[Image by Andrew Hur]