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The Fast Company magazine has published the list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies for 2011. Innovation is critical to the success of most businesses especially in this fast-changing highly competitive environment. The magazine mentioned the following with the introduction of the list:

An artificial heart and its lightweight power drive. A better airline for Brazil. Chocolate from Madagascar and a soccer shirt made of plastic water bottles. A fashion leader escaping its pattern, a smelter, and that little coupon startup in Chicago that’s suddenly worth billions. All this from one simple word: Innovation.

The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2011 are:

Rank CompanyTicker
1 AppleAAPL
2 Twitter
3 Facebook
5 Groupon
6 GoogleGOOG
7 Dawning Information Technology
8 NetflixNFLX
9 Zynga
10 EpocratesEPOC
11 Trader Joes
12 Arm
13 BurberryOTCPK:BBRYF
14 Kosaka Smelting and Refining
15 Four Square
17 Turner Sports
18 Huawei
19 IntelINTC
20 Syncardia
22 EbayEBAY
23 NikeNKE
24 Linkedin
25 Wieden+Kennedy
26 Yandex
27 AmazonAMZN
28 Opening Ceremony
30 AmyrisAMRS
31 Double Negative
32 Kaspersky Lab
33 PepsicoPEP
34 UnivisionUVN
35 Snohetta
36 Marks & SpencerOTCQX:MAKSY
37 MicrosoftMSFT
38 Solarcity
40 Voxvia
41 CiscoCSCO
42 Enerkem
43 SamsungOTC:SSNLF
44 Pandora
46 Changchun Dacheng Industrial Group
47 Azul
48 Stamen Design
49 FX
50 Madecasse

Source: Fast Company

It is not surprising to see Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) take the top rank in this list. Apple’s market cap of $324.0 billion is higher than that of General Electric’s (NYSE:GE) which is ranked at number 45. Other notable publicly-traded tech companies include Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Intel (NASDAQ:CSCO), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Cisco (CSCO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).

While these tech giants are highly innovative, from an investment standpoint, not all of them have been best performers. In fact, stocks like Cisco and Microsoft have been dead money since the dot-com implosion.

Disclosure: No positions