LED lighting company Cree (NASDAQ:CREE) finds itself in the spotlight as one of the most innovative companies in the country.

MIT Technology Review named the Durham company to its list of the 50 Smartest Companies. Cree ranked no. 13. Cree was the highest ranking of eight energy-related companies making the list, beating out giants such as General Electric (NYSE:GE) and Siemens.

The top overall company on the annual list was Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN), the San Diego-based gene sequencing technologies company. Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) was no. 2 followed by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) at no. 3.

MIT Technology Review says that the companies on the list represent “the disruptive innovations most likely to change our lives.” Companies on the list are nominated by the magazine’s editors.

Cree advanced public discourse about the LED lighting industry with the launch in the last year of several new products, including a consumer-targeted LED bulb. Besides using less electricity and lasting longer than incandescent bulbs, the Cree bulb’s $10 price was intended to drive mass adoption of the technology. Most recently, Cree launched its SmartCast Technology, a self-programming wireless lighting-control system that saves even more energy compared to traditional lighting controls.

MIT Technology Review said Cree distinguished itself with both its technology and the price of its LED bulbs.

“Cree makes them on silicon carbide wafers, allowing the company to produce more light from an LED chip than competitors that use sapphire substrates,” the magazine said.” But price, ultimately, is what drives consumers. And Cree predicts it will be able to match traditional lighting on price in the not-very-distant future.”

Cree was the only North Carolina-based company recognized by MIT Technology Review though there were several companies that have a major presence or North Carolina subsidiary on the list. Chinese company Tencent Holdings, which owns nearly half of Cary-based Epic Games, ranked no. 11 on the MIT list. St. Louis agribusiness giant Monsanto (NYSE:MON), which operates research facilities in Research Triangle Park, ranked 33. IBM (NYSE:IBM) ranked 35.

Cree and the other honorees will be featured in the March/April edition of MIT Technology Review. That issue was published online on Tuesday and will be available on newsstands on March 4.

“As the industry’s only fully vertically integrated pure-play LED lighting company, this prestigious recognition validates Cree’s long-standing belief that a cultural commitment to continuous innovation results in the creation of breakthrough products that transform markets,” David Elien, Cree’s vice president, corporate marketing and business development said in a statement.