NEW YORK: Salesforce, Amazon and Baidu are all among the world's "most innovative companies", according to a report published by Forbes.

The business magazine partnered with HOLT, a unit of Credit Suisse, as well as Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregersen, academics from the Marriott School of Management and INSEAD, in order to identify the leading firms in this area.

Salesforce, the enterprise software group, led the charts with an "innovation premium" of 73%, based on the gap between its sales and current stock market capitalisation, indicating strong investor confidence in its potential future products and expansion.

It was praised for rolling out offerings like Chatter, an in-house social network for companies, and moving early to acquire social media analytics providers Radian6 and Buddy Media for a combined $1bn.

"Innovation is a continuum. You have to think about how the world is evolving and transforming," said Marc Benioff, the chief executive and co-founder of Salesforce.

Alexion, the biotechnology firm, claimed the second spot on 72.3% having seen its share price rise by 600% since 2007, thanks to the success of Soliris, a drug tackling the causes of anaemia, which is set to yield $1.1bn in revenues this year.

"We focus on patients with absolutely devastating disorders that are also either lethal or life-threatening," Leonard Bell, CEO of Alexion said. "They're also very, very rare, so they get no attention from anybody ... At the end of the day, everyone accepts that is high-level innovation."

Amazon, the ecommerce pioneer, claimed third on 58.3%. It was lauded for selling over 20m products, developing its own tablet and e-reader, and moving ahead in the nascent cloud computing space.

Red Hat, an open source software group, was fourth on 58.1%. "Whether you are going to take money out of an ATM, to buy an airline ticket or to do a stock trade you don't see us, but we are in the background doing all that stuff to make that happen," Jim Whitehurst, its CEO, said.

"It's about community powered innovation. It is not us coming up with what technologies large companies need, it's us working with Google and Amazon and other large companies to help them solve their own problems."

Baidu, the Chinese internet giant, completed the top five, on 57.6%. Alongside boasting the number one search engine in the Asian nation, it is pressing into sectors like mobile advertising and ecommerce.

The other leading players included Rakuten, the Japanese ecommerce site, on 51.5%, Tencent, another Chinese online company, on 44.1%, and Hindustan Unilever, the FMCG specialist, on 43.9%.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff