Technology innovations are coming fast and furious across all sectors, making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff even for the experienced investor. Professional help from research organizations often adds even more data points, but the list below tries to cut through the veils by picking the top 10 innovators for 2012.
Based on research profiles of 262 companies across 12 different emerging technology sectors performed by Lux Research at the end of 2011, the following 10 companies stood out as the most innovative:
eIQ Energy has created its vBoost technology to reduce the installation, maintenance, and operating costs of solar panels by allowing arrays to be easily wired in parallel like other appliances, rather than requiring the complex serial-interconnection schemes used today.
Topell Energy converts wood waste products into bio-coal pellets in a process called torrefaction, and is positioned to profit from European Union incentive programs.
Kurion Inc. proved that its water decontamination process really works by assisting the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to clean up their spill, generating short-term windfall profits and positive long-term prospects.
Diamon-Fusion International makes ultra-hard, finger-print proof, and water-repellent protective coatings for glass and other silica-based surfaces, from shower stalls to solar panels.
Spirae Inc. assists renewable energy generators in the management of their fluctuating outputs when connecting to the grid, often making the difference between profitability and failure.
Pervasive Displays offers ultra-inexpensive electrophoretic ePaper displays that are inexpensive and easy to read in direct sunlight. Perfected for the One Laptop per Child program, Pervasive Displays claims to now be ready for prime time in a variety of applications, such as warehouse signage and electronic shelf labels.
Citic Guoan MGL is a state-owned lithium-ion battery innovator in China that is already serving the hybrid-electric bus market there with its sights on partnering with foreign companies to serve electric vehicles worldwide.
Hycrete Inc. has created a water-proof concrete that lowers the cost of current membrane-based waterproofing, promising to improve the durability and longevity of smart sustainable building materials.
Ablynx produces what it calls nanobodies, which are therapeutic proteins that can deliver drugs to target sites, attracting a stellar list of partners including Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck Serono, Norvartis, and Pfizer.
Proterro Inc. has created a photosynthetic organism that produces sugars for biofuel production at the "holy grail" price point of five cents per pound.