Toyota Motor Corporation

Headquarters: Toyota, Japan

Industry sector: Automotive

Toyota has established itself as Japan’s leading export, with a brand valued by Interbrand at more than $30 billion. In other table-topping statistics, it claimed the number one spot for R&D spend in 2011, with an investment of $9.9 billion, according to Bloomberg; and last year secured the most US patents of any company in the automobile sector. A forward-thinking approach has kept it at the vanguard of the burgeoning green automotive market: in 2012 it led green-tech patent filings in the United States for three consecutive quarters. It began R&D on its ground-breaking hybrid systems back in the early 1990s and has safeguarded all elements of this complex technology since day one: the Prius is covered by over 2,000 patents. This has given Toyota a significant edge as demand for greener cars increases; competitors such as Ford and Nissan had to license its technology when they started developing their own hybrids.