BRW Reveals Australia’s Most Innovative Companies

  • Written by Jasmine Perrin

The 2015 BRW Most Innovative Companies list will be published online at brw.com.au at 10.00PM on Monday 17 August (without a paywall) following the winner announcement at a special awards night in Sydney.

BRW will also present in-depth analysis of the trends behind the list and profiles of the companies – big and small – that made the list the next day at brw.com.au

As the name suggests, the 2015 BRW Most Innovative Companies list reveals Australia’s most innovative businesses.  Many of the companies at the top of the list have disrupted markets and launched world firsts over the past year.


The definition of innovation used by the expert judging panel is “change that adds value” – a deliberately broad concept allowing innovation in all its forms to be captured.


Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy, worked with BRW to compile the 2015 BRW Most Innovative Companies list, with a 50% increase in entries received this year.


With a record number of over 500 companies registered, eligibility for the list requires entrants to describe two innovations their company has implemented in the past twelve months - including details on a problem that the innovation solved (or opportunity it capitalised on), and the impact that the innovation had on the business.


Entrants also had to complete an Innovation audit which analyses performance across key internal drivers that are responsible for innovation.


BRW Editor Michael Bailey says, “They say 'innovate or die', and lives literally will be saved by some of the inventions on the 2015 BRW Most Innovative Companies list. Others will give us happier and more efficient salmon-fishermen; help our superannuation get managed better; provide a nicer blanket for your next plane trip; or reduce the line at the checkout, to name just a few from the shortlisted inventions this year. Innovation is becoming a habit for companies from just about every industry, and it's a habit BRW and Inventium will continue to encourage."


Inventium’s Founder and CEO, Dr Amantha Imber adds, “Senior executives are no longer asking ‘should we innovate’ but instead, asking ‘how should we innovate’. A lot of people talk a lot about disrupting markets, but few successfully do it. Top ranking companies in the BRW Most Innovative Companies list have managed to do this.”

Planet Innovation took out top honours on this year’s BRW Most Innovative Companies list.  The hearing aid system that it developed for Blamey Saunders is a classic disruptor, eliminating the need for an expensive trip to the audiologist for a hearing aid tune up. Instead, Incus puts the power back into the consumers’ hands.


Accountancy program MYOB was ranked #2 on the 2015 BRW Most Innovation Companies list with their new, free ‘smart bills’ function.  It allows users to easily drag and drop, or photograph, an invoice into MYOB’s AccountRight or Essentials solution saving manual entering of data and making a huge leap toward a paperless office.

Ivy College is #3 on the list by providing a flexible service model to increase accessibility of education for working adults.  Students don’t have to follow traditional semesters and can start studying 24/7, 365 days/year, and study anywhere with courses delivered via a mobile responsive website.  Ivy also offers a self-paced study model - with no set timetables and no exam deadlines, measuring competency rather than time spent studying.

“It was great to see that many of this year’s entrants were focused not only on improving the bottom line through innovation, but also on improving the planet,” says Dr Amantha Imber.


In a world first, Buzz Products, #9 on the list, developed ecoTHREAD - blankets for airline passengers that are made entirely of recycled plastic bottles. Plastic drinking bottles that would have otherwise ended up as landfill are instead recycled into plastic chips which are then converted into yarn and woven into polar fleece blankets. The blankets were launched by Jetstar this year, and by the end of 2017, Jetstar’s blankets alone will have recycled 11,571,428 400ml bottles, resulting in 1,620 tonnes saved from landfill.


Another trend that emerged from the 2015 BRW Most Innovative Companies list is that innovation is no longer something that just happens behind closed doors in a lab - but instead, is put out in full display to customers and clients.


CommBank’s Innovation Lab, #15 on the list, that was launched in October 2014, invites customers to come into the bank to help develop cutting-edge products. Six months after launch, the lab had already hosted 20,000 visitors, and has given birth to several Canstar award-winning mobile enhancements, such as Cardless Cash, which allows consumers to withdraw cash from ATMs without the need for a card.


BRW also found that many of Australia’s most innovative companies are using Lean Start Up methodologies to help keep up with the many start-ups that threaten to disrupt the big players. Rather than acting like slow giants, larger organisations are recognising that to be competitive, they must act leanly and quickly.


Organisations ranging from Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ING Direct, MYOB and Mirvac all use Lean Start Up methodologies to help fail fast, and more importantly, learn and iterate fast.



The Top 10



State (head office)


Planet Innovation









Ivy College






Seeing Machines



Management Consultancy International



Laing O’Rouke Australia






Queensland Urban Utilities



State Breakdown  (head office)


# in the top 50
















Winners across all categories



Most Innovative Company (#1)

Planet Innovation

Most Innovative Small Company (30 < 100 employees)

Planet Innovation

Most Innovative Medium Company (100 > 500 employees)

Seeing Machines

Most Innovative Large Company (< 500 employees)


Best Innovation Program


Best Innovation Climate

Australian Innovative Systems

Best Product Innovation

Seeing Machines

Best Service Innovation

Collingwood Football Club

Best Process Innovation

Orora Group

Best Business Model Innovation


Best Internal/HR Innovation

Laing O'Rouke Australia

Best Marketing Innovation

Clemenger BBDO


Breakdown of the top 50:

Number of employees:

- Small (30-99) = 32%

- Medium (100<500) = 36%

- Large (500+) = 32%


Industry breakdown of ALL entrants:

   Agriculture and Mining = 3%

   Education = 5%

   Financial Services = 11%

   FMCG = 4%

   Government = 2%

   Health, Pharma and Biotech = 7%

   Hospitality = 6%

   IT and Telecoms = 10%

   Manufacturing and Construction = 14%

   Media, Marketing and Advertising = 9%

   NFP = 5%

   Professional Services = 14%

   Retail, Wholesale and Distribution = 7%

   Transportation, Postal and Storage               = 3%

   Travel, Sport, Recreation and Leisure = 4%


Innovation “type” for the highest scoring (top 20%) of all innovations received:

   Product = 38%

   Service = 34%

   Process = 7%

   Business Model = 9%

   Internal/HR= 6%

   Marketing = 6%


How the BRW Most Innovative Companies list is created

The BRW Most Innovative Companies list was created in conjunction with Australia’s leading innovation consultancy, Inventium (www.inventium.com.au). Inventium applies the latest findings from science, including psychology, management science and cognitive science to help organisations grow through innovation.


Many definitions of innovation exist, but for the purpose of the BRW Most Innovative Companies list, innovation is defined broadly as “change that adds value”.


The assessment process organisations must go through consists of three parts. First organisations must specify two innovations they had implemented in the past 12 months (40 per cent of final score). Second, entrants must answer several open-ended questions (20 per cent of final score) about how they have integrated and embedded innovation into their organisation. Finally, organisations receive Inventium’s Innovation Audit (40 per cent of final score), an online survey completed by a representative sample of employees. This survey measures performance on the critical drivers of organisational innovation, according to Inventium’s best-practice innovation framework.

Innovations are rated by a panel of independent judges. The 2015 panel consisted of: Michael Bailey, editor, BRW; James O’Loughlin; Dr Amantha Imber, founder, Inventium; Craig Dunn, ex-CEO AMP; Dr Catriona Wallace, managing director, Fifth Quadrant & Flamingo; Owen Kerr, chief executive and co-founder, Pepperstone, Hans Hulsbosch, Creative Director, Hulsbosch agency.


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Complete list: http://www.brw.com.au/lists/50-most-innovative-companies/2015