RALEIGH — Four companies with big North Carolina connections have cracked FastCompany’s “100 Best Workplaces for Innovators” list.

The 2023 list represents the 5th time FastCompany has recognized companies that are fostering cultures of innovation.

Here are the four NC-connected companies on the list (with descriptions from FastCompany):

  • RAPIDOPS (No. 35): The Charlotte-based software development company also has offices in Ahmedabad and Bangalore, India, and invests about $1 million a year in R&D to develop platforms like Experro, a “headless” e-commerce platform where the front-end visual layer is separated from the back-end business logic, which allows users to customize the platform to suit their particular needs.
  • IBM (No. 52): IBM’s SkillsBuild program offers free online STEM courses in 19 languages, while partnerships with HBCUs and its own Registered Apprenticeship program help diversify the talent pool and provide opportunities for underrepresented communities. Half of IBM’s posted positions in the U.S. (including roles in data science, cloud computing, and other highly skilled tech areas) no longer require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree.
  • SAS (No. 61): Its Big Ideas program is an open incubator for employees to share their knowledge and skills and showcase ideas, not limited to technology, through short, high-energy presentations. Employees are given a platform to demonstrate thought leadership, improve public speaking skills, and inspire others. One 2022 idea about upcycling mobile homes using 3D printing to create affordable housing was approved for grant funding to pursue a prototype.
  • CISCO SYSTEMS (No. 69):  The multinational tech company’s WIN++ Patent Membership Program focuses on mentoring women and people from diverse backgrounds to innovate and patent their ideas. Since launching in 2020, almost 700 employees from 20 countries have completed the program, with a nearly 30% increase in unique women inventors listed on patent filings.

Australian graphic design platform Canva ranked No. 1 on the list, recognized for its “ongoing integration of generative AI” and employee benefits like coaching, career advancement programs, and annual “Vibe and Thrive” stipends to help employees pursue personal interests.

Other notable tech companies on the list include Adobe at No. 9 (San Jose), Etsy at No. 23 (Brooklyn), Spotify at No. 30 (Stockholm), and Roblox at No. 55 (San Mateo).

FastCompany partnered with Accenture to develop the questions and metrics that evaluated companies for the list, according to the FastCompany website. Companies had to apply to join the list, finalists were selected by a FastCompany team, and winners were recommended by a panel of editors, business leaders, and “innovators.”