2021 Global Innovators List
New Additions: 50% More List, as New Players in Financial Services, Tools & Equipment, Real Estate Development, and East Asia Swell the Ranks
As with other lists we publish, the Global Innovators List is not seeing large numbers of falloff in companies from year to year. These global Goliaths are so far sticking to their initiatives around digital transformation and are even accelerating those efforts. Additionally, we identified many more companies that also fit our profile for Global Innovators. So this year, our list grew by more than fifty percent, as we catalogued ever more global companies investing in the Built World sector's digital transformation.
- In Financial Services and Insurance, we added JP Morgan, AXA, and BNP Parisbas to last year's firms like AON and Zurich.
- In Tools & Equipment, we added Korean Hyundai, German Peri Form, US-based Deere, and Chinese Sany to a list that already includes household names like Caterpillar, Hilti, and Stanley Black & Decker.
- In Real Estate Development, Brookfield, Hines, Lincoln Properties, and Related joined firms such as Jones Lang LaSalle and LendLease, as real estate companies increasingly expand their scope beyond "transaction tech" and into development, project management, construction, and facilities management.
- In Eastern and Southern Asia, we identified many more organizations, including GS Futures, Hazama Ando, Hitachi, Samsung, and Semac to add to the list along with companies like Gloden, Kajima and Obyashi that were featured last year.
In all, the growth of the list is the result of our own expanding research efforts and also increasing activity and globalization in the sector. The rate and posture of engagement indicate this trend will almost assuredly continue and accelerate in the years ahead.
Grupo ACS is a worldwide reference in the construction and infrastructure development industries, both civil and industrial. The ACS Group is positioned as one of the world's leading Construction companies, with projects in more than 30 countries around the world, and in 2020 it had more than 57,000 employees.
In unison with their sustainability efforts, Grupo Argos invests in businesses that contribute to solving global challenges and ensure the generation of long-term value for the company, society, and the planet.
Autodesk is a global leader in design-and-make technology. With expertise across architecture, engineering, construction, design, manufacturing, and entertainment, they help customers solve today’s pressing challenges. With acquisitions in Israel and, more recently in Europe, Autodesk is continuing to expand its influence, globally.
AXA is expanding innovation to become a technology solutions partner to their clients daily. They are directing their innovation efforts toward new services and offers that bring high value to their customers and partners globally through initiatives like AXA Next and AXA Venture Partners.
As a prominent player in all things infrastructure, Bechtel is continuing to explore innovative and sustainable ideas around the world! They also challenge themselves to decarbonize every project while generating cost-efficiencies to bring greater value. Over the past few years, we have seen their influence in Smart Cities in the Middle East, technology investment in United States, and high speed rail projects in South Korea, and even in projects related to outer space.
Around the world, engineers and architects, constructors, and owner-operators are using Bentley’s software solutions to accelerate project delivery and improve asset performance for the infrastructure that sustains our economy and our environment. Bentley's Year in Infrastructure Awards has garnered attention and support for innovation in Infrastructure projects around the world.
BNP Paribas — a France-based company with a presence in more than 74 countries — launched a new program dedicated to investing and supporting Fintech & Insurtech startups, TechUp, in October 2020. It offers accommodation and support to young Fintech, Insurtech, and Regtech at the start of their business development in Paris and beyond.
Operating on every continent, Bouygues Construction is responsible for large-scale projects in the building, civil works, energy, and services sectors in more than 80 countries. Bouygues provides an intelligent lighting network — a new concept for a comprehensive approach to sustainable housing.
As a Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Investor, Brookfield Technologies are active in tech and innovation around the world. Brookfield sits in a unique position to be able to identify solutions in some sectors and implement them in others — tying the digital world into the built world.
Operating in 17 countries, Casais Group is a premier option for construction and public works in Portugal and beyond. Being aware of their impact environmentally as well as economically, the Casais Group affirms that the application of the principles of circular economy, the efficiency of the resources involved, as well as the maintenance of the material and immaterial heritage of the companies in this sector are essential to guarantee the sustainability and the ability to endure and maintain a place in local and global value chains.
Being one of the world's largest construction equipment manufacturers, CAT offers an intelligent suite of hardware, software, and services — no matter where you are— your CAT dealer can help you boost efficiency, improve safety, save time and make more money.
Continuing to grow and expand from its roots in the Middle East, the CCC Group has expanded to include several subsidiaries, augmenting CCC’s regional and international status. Today, CCC leads the industry in the adoption of new technology to improve construction efficiency and enhance project controls.
China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. engages in the design and construction of transportation infrastructure, dredging and heavy machinery manufacturing business. Their footprint covers more than 150 countries and regions in the world including 60 wholly-owned holding subsidiaries.
COINS is a globally operating cloud based construction software built on real time data that provides end-to-end construction business solutions that truly add value. Similarlly to other companies, COINS host a compition — the Grand Challenge — which is a global competition to uncover students, innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders with ideas that can improve the built environment.
Aside from creating real estate solutions to prepare their clients for what’s next, Cushman and Wakefield have formed a Global Alliance with Matterport, and made investments in Fifth Wall and MetaProp. Furthermore, they recently entered into a global agreement with Fairfleet, a Munich-based drone company.
Since its birth, Daiwa House has expanded across a wide field of operations, including single-family houses — its core business — rental housing, condominiums, commercial facilities, and general business-use buildings. They have also made a conscious effort to remain accountable for contributing to society and environmentaly smart decisions with the release of a sustainability report.
Deere is continuing to find more innovative easy-to-use technologies that helps deliver the results companies want to see in the field, on the job site, and on the balance sheet. Deere has also recently announced their partnership with HackerOne — the leading hacker-powered global security platform which connects data-intensive businesses with cybersecurity researchers who test and examine their systems.
A Turkish company in origin, the Doku Group is quickly setting up shop across the Middle East and Africa. They know that research and development is a priority in many business areas, so they are after not only using technology but also creating technology. They implement the renewed technology in all companies under Doku Group without wasting any time.
Along with a digital transformation, Doosan is applying concentrated efforts to R&D. These innovations are coming in the form of unmanned/automated systems, eco-friendly energy, as well as state-of-the-art manufacturing. Additionally, continued work with D20 Capital, Doosan's Corporate Venture Capital Group, is a further example of what solidifies them as a Global Innovator.
EY is a multinational professional services firm specializing in many sectors — specifically within the Construction, Real Estate, and Hospitality sectors, EY works with companies to capitalize on digital innovation and adopt a bolder, more agile approach to navigating this fast-changing market. Additionally, they can help build new products and services with external technology partners and create structured and effective channels for technology sourcing going forward.
This Spanish multinational company is involved in the design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance of transport infrastructure and urban services. They build relationships and collaborate with public and private organizations, encourage a culture of innovation among their employees (giving them free reign to propose disruptive solutions), and have a Digital Hub, a space that accelerates innovation and contributes to the digital transformation of our infrastructures.
With over 310,000+ global corporate clients, Glodon Software highly values independent R&D and technical system construction. The Company insists on investing in the R&D of key technologies, such as BIM, Graphic Modeling, Cloud Computing, Big Data, IoT, and AI. It invested 803 million yuan in R&D, with year-on-year growth of 21.74% in 2018, and has invested a total of nearly 2 billion yuan in R&D in the past 3 years, with investment growth at a high speed annually.
Leading Asian conglomerate established GS futures to invest in companies in the energy, construction, and digitization of other industries. Their goal is to invest in the future and to guide partners, current and future, providing access to their global network of experts, partners, and operators.
Gülermak has been playing a major role in the construction industry at both domestic and international markets since its establishment in 1958. Additionally, through its venture fund, Shibumi, Gulermak is continuously investing in emerging technology around the globe.
Hazama Ando is a major general contractor based in Japan but operating around the world. The Ando Hazama Institute of Technology, which represents their main R&D efforts, consists of the main building, eight experimental buildings, and an outdoor experimental site.
Heidelberg Cement is making a big splash in the R&D arena as they have new research centers in Germany and Italy as they focus on CO2 Reduction Technology, among other initiatives. Additionally, they also intend to make the first carbon-neutral cement plant in Sweden via upgrades to an existing plant.
Hilti Corporation is a Liechtenstein multinational company that develops, manufactures, and markets products for the construction, building maintenance, energy, and manufacturing industries. To see their strategies through, Hilti aims for continuous innovation in products, services, and software accompanied by a high-performing global team.
One of the largest real estate developers in the world, Hines is a leader in ESG goals globally, and a leader in mass timber construction. Hines has also invested in Fifth Wall and other funds. Their team is actively evaluating and implementing new economy businesses, products and services that enhance the value of their portfolio, elevate the experience of their tenant customers and further empower their employees.
Hitachi is making their global presence known through its sustainability efforts, and maybe more notably their research and development. They have many focus areas for innovation from digital technology to mechanical engineering and more. Furthermore, Hitachi has what they call Open Innovation which is an evolution of collaborative creation meant to accelerate innovation.
Making powerful strides in the construction tech innovation arena, Hyundai has recently acquired Boston Dynamics — a major player in robotics — as well as HiMATE, a remote operating system in the US. Additionally, Hyundai has a new construction equipment center in Europe, Hyundai Tech Center, highlighting their growing reach.
Innogy Ventures — the venture capital arm of Innogy SE, one of Europe’s largest utility companies —spend the majority of their efforts on the future of cities, energies, and technologies. They also highlight the makers, thinkers, and enablers of a cleaner, smarter future with new videos posted regularly.
Founded in 2017, JLL Spark’s team and venture capital fund have invested tens of millions of dollars in more than twenty early-stage PropTech startups—from IoT sensors to investment platforms and more. Additionally, their global presence is seen through their network-based approach to assist in the breaching of new markets.
J.P. Morgan looks to continuously support innovation in the building and construction markets through their commercial banking services, and investment advisory. Recently they've announced the hiring of five key executives to its growing Innovation Economy team within the Middle Market Banking and Specialized Industries (MMBSI) group. This marks another significant milestone in the firm’s commitment to building a full ecosystem around the fast-growing innovation economy, as J.P. Morgan continues to expand its capabilities catering to the unique needs of early-stage companies and investors. J.P. Morgan’s Innovation Economy group encompasses dedicated Venture Capital (VC), Technology & Disruptive Commerce (TDC), and Life Sciences teams. The group also partners with J.P. Morgan’s other lines of business to deliver the full breadth and depth of the firm’s capabilities to its clients, across Investment Banking, Private Banking and Asset Management.
Kajima Corporation is engaged in construction (civil engineering and building construction), real estate development, architectural design, civil engineering design, and engineering. Their research activities pertain to these areas and are being pursued at the Kajima Technical Research Institute which houses various labs and tech to assist in this effort.
Keppel is a Vietnamese energy and infrastructure company with a technology initiative. Their sustainability efforts are evident in Singapore as well as their massive offshore wind farm in the United States.
Knauf is a group of companies that form one of the world’s leading manufacturers of modern insulation materials, drylining systems, plasters and accessories, thermal insulation composite systems, paints, floor screed, floor systems, and construction equipment and tools.
Komatsu Ltd. is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures construction, mining, and other heavy equipment. To enhance sustainable actions, Komatsu focuses on CO2 reduction, renewable energy use, water conservation, and waste reduction. Komatsu also hosts many initiatives designed to spark the interest of youth in STEM and bring bright minds into the sector.
With one of the strongest R&D organizations in the industry, Holcim seeks to constantly introduce and promote high-quality and sustainable building materials and solutions to their customers worldwide - whether individual homebuilders or developers of major infrastructure projects. Innovation is key to reaching their goal of net-zero emissions.
Lendlease Group is a multinational construction, property, and infrastructure company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. They believe that their investment in digital capabilities will enable them to enhance their customer experience and add value where others overlook it. Additionally, their International Towers were recognized as the World's Most Sustainable Office Fund.
Lincoln Property Company is an international real estate firm that has a substantial local presence in each of the markets they serve — ideally situating their offices to clientele: tenants, investors, lenders, and owners of real estate.
This construction firm is revolutionizing the project experience. Their team utilizes several forms of technology to achieve the best possible construction experience — whether that be 3D renderings, clash detection, model-based estimating, or reality capture/drone tech.
Microsoft provides integrations with many of the leading construction technology platforms and solutions. This is seen in Kiewit's use of InEight integrated within Microsoft's cloud based platform to continue to drive digital transformation across their projects.
R&D plays an important role in contributing to MND’s vision of creating An Endearing Home, A Distinctive Global City for all Singaporeans. As cities around the world face increasingly complex urban sustainability challenges, MND recognizes the importance of R&D in future-proofing Singapore’s development and works closely with partners from the research community and industry to drive R&D efforts that can effectively address key national challenges.
MOMENI Group is one of the leading privately owned investment, development, and management companies focussing on the highest quality real estate in Germany's major cities. They also have an investment in Fifth Wall in the US who manages the largest fund specialized in real estate technology.
A massive company with a global reach, Obayashi focuses on construction, civil engineering, and some real estate domestically and overseas. They plan on deepening and expanding their business domains and accelerating globalization centered on strengthening the four existing pillars and continuing to grow beyond the framework of a general contractor.
With 292 office locations across 76 countries, Oracle is a constant presence for construction technology. Through its acquisition activities, Oracle seeks to strengthen its product offerings, accelerate innovation, meet customer demand more rapidly, and expand partner opportunities.
Paving the way in 3D printed homes, PERI has printed residential buildings in both the United States as well as Germany. For their work in 3D printing, they were awarded the German Innovation Award by the German Design Council in addition to the "Top Innovator 2021" in the context of the Germany-wide TOP 100 innovation competition.
Prologis leverages its distinct corporate structure and industry-leading position to deliver substantial added value to its investors, as evidenced by their investment track record. They focus on logistics real estate with a focus on high-barrier, high-growth markets in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Related is committed to environmentally conscious real estate. They continuously advance the design, construction, and operation of their properties to reduce their environmental footprint. They invest in inclusive, tech-forward, and sustainable communities, infrastructure, and initiatives. These solutions serve as economic and creative engines that will positively affect society for generations.
Saint Gobain designs, manufactures, and distributes materials and solutions and is present in 70 countries, with sustained development in emerging countries. The group offers its expertise through its leading European or global brands, and its research centers. Saint Gobain has 8 different R&D centers located on 4 different continents.
Salesforce is the global leader in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), bringing companies closer to their customers in the digital age. Salesforce Ventures, the global investment arm of Salesforce, invests in the next generation of enterprise technology that extends the power of the Salesforce Platform. Salesforce Ventures has invested in more than 375 companies, including DocuSign, GoCardless, Guild Education, nCino, Twilio, Zoom, and others across 22 countries since 2009.
Samsung is a leader in Smart City use cases and standards. They regularly host global leaders and experts to share insights about their cutting edge research and unique experiences in their Samsung Forum. These talks cover trends and cutting edge technology that stand to make a big impact on smart city future.
With over 37 years of experience and hundreds of projects across Thailand, including two hotels and a residential project in Kensington, London, Sansiri is widely regarded as one of Thailand’s leading developers of quality houses, townhomes, and condominiums.
Sany Group is a leading enterprise in the high-end equipment manufacturing industry with over 20 R&D centers and manufacturing bases all over the world — investing 5–7% of annual sales revenue back into R&D each year. They have expanded their business to a wide range of areas, including construction and mining equipment, port machinery, oil drilling machinery, and renewable wind energy systems.
Schneider Electric is a French multinational corporation specializing in electrical equipment. SE Ventures is a venture capital fund created in partnership with Schneider Electric; based in California, and working with entrepreneurs around the world, SE Ventures provides capital to big ideas and bold entrepreneurs who can benefit from Schneider Electric's deep domain expertise, R&D assets, and global customer base.
Over five decades, Semac has worked with Indian as well as multinational clients on projects located in India and abroad. Semac has switched from being a pure Design firm to one offering a turnkey solution to clients, with Semac being the single point of contact. They believe in creating an ecosystem of trusted partners, where all parties, suppliers, Semac, and clients are sitting on the same side of the table to deliver the project on time and at optimal cost.
In addition to SCG's ability to provide a global logistic network connecting South East Asia with Africa, Europe, and America, SCG remains active in the investment sphere. AddVentures, a group by SCG, is a dedicated arm of the company that is focused on the investment and development of innovative ideas around the world.
Shikun & Binui is an Infrastructure and real-estate group based in Israel with projects both there and around the world. Some of their proven achievements include the establishment, financing, and operation of huge ventures in the fields of transportation infrastructure, ecology, water purification and desalination, and international project development.
As a technology company headquartered in Germany but operating globally, Siemens is focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. Siemens combines the digital world with the real world. Due to this, they are unsurprisingly invested in the development and digitalization of all things infrastructure, buildings, and cities!
From a small town in Sweden to a prominent global presence, Skanska has grown in size and reach over its history. As they continue to grow, their view on sustainable practices grows with them leading them to leverage their national and international experience. This, in turn, allows them to efficiently use natural resources and be a better neighbor in their communities by building green worldwide.
The Standard ecosystem spans continents and sectors, from investments in public markets and early-to-growth stage technologies to world-class building materials and next-generation solar solutions. Innovation is the centerpiece to their approach in building the future as seen in their related business 40 North Ventures as a means to catalyze industrial transformation.
Across their businesses, they're investing in breakthrough innovation and digital excellence, striving for outperformance. In innovation hubs around the world where commercial, startup, and academic resources are concentrated, their businesses have launched offsite breakthrough innovation centers dedicated to developing game-changing solutions, each with long-term potential to generate annual revenue in excess of $100 million.
Experience, competence, quality, innovation, sustainability – these are the keys to the success of STRABAG International for the realization of large international construction projects. STRABAG continues to make advances in autonomous heavy civil equipment, 3D printing, robotics, sustainability, and more.
With numerous R&D training centers across Asia as well as continued investment in various technologies across the energy, infrastructure, and smart cities realms, Takenaka stands out as a major player globally in innovation.
The largest private real estate group in Israel, Tidhar Group has also emerged as one of the region’s biggest innovation champions investing in globally expanding start-ups. Locally, their execution has influenced a growing presence in the construction realm, too.
Travelers Insurance is well-equipped with seasoned professionals in Underwriting, Claim, and Risk Control – many of whom came from the industry. Travelers can help all types of construction professionals, regardless of size, providing insurance, data, and insights.
Thornton Tomasetti has worked on projects of all scales and complexities in more than 50 countries which cultivated fluency in more than two dozen languages and knowledge of the culture and business practices in a wide range of markets. Additionally, Thornton Tomasetti has invested in and commercialized technologies throughout the world.
Specializing in all things digital, Trimble is developing tech that spans the entire AEC industry. With acquisitions of technology companies in Europe and also in the United States, Trimble continues to deepen its technology reach into both the hardware and the software that powers the built world.
The Umdasch Group is an incubator, accelerator, startup investor, company creator, and above all innovative solution provider in construction and retail. This multinational venture arm is inventing the future by delivering answers to burning global challenges like urbanization. They search, monitor, and analyze global megatrends and groundbreaking technologies and develop new, potentially disruptive business models.
As an investor, builder, and operator of buildings and infrastructure, VINCI plays a key role in the transformation of cities and regions. With its Leonard Accelerator, Vinci is working with start-ups from around the world and also working with Vinci employees from all over the world to foster innovation on projects, globally.
As a global leader in insurance and risk management tools, Zurich continues to push advancements in technology by hosting the Zurich Innovation Championship — one of the largest startup innovation competitions in the insurance industry. The aim of the tournament is to help identify new business ideas that have the potential to transform the insurance industry, with the hope to protect the next generation for a more sustainable tomorrow.