Ecolab, Gen. Mills Among “World’s Most Innovative Cos.”

A new Forbes list based its rankings on several company growth and value factors, along with a score that measures "innovation premium"-how much investors bid up the stock price beyond the value of a company's existing business in anticipation of future innovative results, like new products, services, and markets.

Ecolab, Inc., and General Mills, Inc., were recently recognized when Forbes named them to its list of the world's 100 “most innovative companies.”

St. Paul-based Ecolab ranked 28th on the list, and Golden Valley-based General Mills ranked 31st. Boston Scientific, which is based in Natick, Massachusetts, but employs roughly 5,000 in Minnesota, ranked 91st.

The rankings were based on several factors: five-year average sales growth, five-year average net income growth, enterprise value, and “innovation premium”-a score that measures how much investors bid up the stock price of each company beyond the value of its existing business in anticipation of future innovative results, like new products, services, and markets.

In order to be considered for the list, companies had to have $10 billion in market capitalization, spend at least 1 percent of their asset base on research and development, and have seven years of public data.

Ecolab's five-year average sales growth was 6.3 percent, and its five-year average net income growth was 8.8 percent. Its enterprise value is $14.2 billion and its innovation premium was 32.6.

General Mills, meanwhile, experienced 5.1 percent five-year average sales growth and five-year average net income growth of 10.2 percent. Its enterprise value is $30.2 billion, and its innovation premium was 32.3.

The top five companies on the list were Salesforce.com, Amazon.com, Intuitive Surgical, Tencent Holdings, and Apple. To see the full list, click here.

In discussing what makes companies innovative, Forbes cited a new book, The Innovator's DNA, that explores the particular skills that separate business innovators like Steve Jobs of Microsoft and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com from ordinary managers. The book calls those characteristics the five skills of disruptive innovators: questioning, observing, networking, experimenting, and associational thinking-drawing connections among questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields, which acts as a catalyst for creative ideas.

Ecolab and General Mills are both among Minnesota's 25-largest public companies.