The top 50 Business ideas

The FT puts the spotlight on which inventions and innovations have helped to create today’s business world

Collecting the ideas

50 Ideas logo

Attempting to forecast business, technological and social change is difficult but we are on the lookout for future trends which will define our world


Occupy London protester
©Charlie Bibby


The rapidly increasing diversity of society has filtered through to the workplace and to how businesses relate to the public, writes Sarah Neville

Technology: computers

Computerised information processes have become an essential part of a company’s operation, regardless of its size, creating a digitally savvy population of employees as well as customers, says Richard Waters

Technology: applications

Faster, smaller and smarter electronic technologies have dramatically redefined time and distance for businesses, writes Clive Cookson


For all its benefits in spreading wealth, globalisation has not come without drawbacks, making the process one of the most complex forces of modern times


A world of increasingly well-informed and wealthy consumers is driving a revolution in how goods are made, marketed and sold, writes Louise Lucas

Changing sources of energy

Renewables are today’s growth story, but fossil fuels still dominate, writes Guy Chazan


Airlines have changed the world – but profits remain firmly earthbound. By Kevin Done

Banking and finance

The quest for financial innovation has seen the introduction of the ATM but also gave birth to synthetic debt instruments, says Patrick Jenkins


The most innovative thinking on how to run organisations recognises the constantly changing nature of business


Big pharma faces new challenges, says Andrew Jack

Copyright and intellectual property

Innovation must be protected, writes Jane Croft

Industrial process

The drive towards greater flexibility and reduction of waste continues, writes Robert Wright

Future ideas

Our judges’ pick of the ideas most likely to shape tomorrow’s world of business

report introduction

A look back at financial innovations

The wisdom behind much financial innovation in the past few decades has become questionable

Companies turn to India to boost business

Indian centres are more creative and innovative, as well as low-cost

The 50 ideas that shaped business today

Help us put a spotlight on the 50 ideas that have shaped the way we now do business

Where others failed: Top 10 fads

Lucy Kellaway looks at some of the worst management fads to appear in the workplace during the past 20 years

extended reading

Valley is still the stuff of tech dreams

D’Aloisio became rich by using the classic playbook, writes Tim Bradshaw

Innovation: Smartwear

A wave of wearable computers has the potential to be more intrusive than previous technology

Game changer

3D Systems is tapping into the potential of three-dimensional printing to change the process of manufacturing radically

Digital DNA

Sixty years after the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure, an astonishing genetics archive is to be placed online by the Wellcome Library. Clive Cookson has a look

3D printing shows its teeth

Dentists are using the technology to make precise models of patients’ faces, jaws and teeth, so as to plan procedures such as implants and facial surgery

Apple looks to make TV market smarter

At the Consumer Electronics Show a cloud forms over television

US boosted by Human Genome Project

A $3.8bn outlay reaped $796bn in 20 years, study says