This paper examines the origins of global leaders under intellectual monopoly capitalism. State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the leading firm in artificial intelligence applications for the energy sector, became an intellectual monopoly relying heavily on China's national innovation system –particularly public research organizations and public funding, and innovation and energy policies. SGCC is unique because it did not rely on technology transfer from global leaders, unlike other national champions from developing or emerging countries. We provide evidence that contributes to thinking that SGCC first became a national intellectual monopoly and only afterwards expanded that monopoly globally. We empirically study SGCC's innovation networks. We proxy them using big data techniques to analyze the content, co-authors and co-owners of its publications and patents. Results also suggest that SGCC is capturing intellectual rents from its increasingly transnational and technologically diverse innovation networks by leveraging its national innovation system.