The information provider named the 100 leading companies in this area, based on their number of patents received in the last three years, whether these were protected in key markets, and how often they were cited by other firms.
In all, 14 groups from the semiconductor and electronics components sector made the rankings, the highest figure of any industry, and a list incorporating Intel, Sharp, Samsung and Qualcomm.
A total of 13 chemicals manufacturers also claimed places in the charts, including 3M, Chevron and Dow Chemicals. HP, Toshiba and Xerox were some of the 11 featured computer hardware specialists.
Meanwhile, nine representatives of the consumer products segment, like Procter & Gamble, L'Oréal and Unilever, proved their credentials by taking fourth position on a category basis.
By region, North America accounted for 40% of the enterprises excelling in R&D, beating Asia with 31% – of which Japan yielded 27 percentage points, and South Korea the remainder.
"The lack of companies from China is noteworthy and underscores the fact that although China is leading the world in patent volume, quantity does not equate to influence and quality," the report said.
Europe contributed 29% of the top businesses in the R&D space, with 11 headquartered in France, six in Sweden and four apiece in Germany and the Netherlands.
According to Thomson Reuters, the 100 premier global innovators more than doubled the R&D spending of the S&P 500, an index of major US corporations, in 2010, based on a weighted average.
It also found the 100 best-performing R&D operators worldwide created over 400,000 new jobs last year, and enjoyed a more rapid expansion in headcount than organisations in the S&P 500.
Similarly, the weighted average revenues recorded by the R&D pioneers rose 12.9% in 2010, versus a 7.2% lift when discussing members of the S&P 500.
Indeed, 74.2% of the publicly-traded corporations featured in the Thomson Reuters rankings logged stock price increases last year, despite the extremely challenging financial climate.
"Innovation is a means of growth and prosperity for companies and nations seeking to overcome sluggish economies and achieve competitive advantage," said David Brown, Thomson Reuters' president, IP Solutions.
Data sourced from Thomson Reuters; additional content by Warc staff