20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

In technology, huge changes happen every month. Here are 20 innovators that you’ll want to keep your eye on.

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

In technology, huge changes happen every month. Here are 20 innovators that you’ll want to keep your eye on.

Machine learning, AI, predictive analytics, and other flourishing technologies are remaking the business landscape today. A brave new world is upon us, where every industry from agriculture to healthcare and commerce to advertising is innovating exponentially. The leaders and visionaries ushering in this exciting new era are the entrepreneurs behind the brilliant platforms being developed. Below are 20 innovative technology companies transforming their industries and moving the needle forward for all of us.

Argus Cybersecurity

A leader in a rapidly expanding market, Argus is a cybersecurity firm focused on cars. Just five years ago, the need for a company like Argus would have been marginal. But since the company’s founding in 2013, so many new cars have hit the road with “connected” features that car-hacking has become a pressing concern. When self-driving vehicles eventually make their way to consumers, car cybersecurity will take on even greater urgency. Based in Tel Aviv with offices in the U.S., Germany, and Japan, Argus works with car manufacturers and their suppliers. The company’s staff includes longtime cybersecurity experts as well as auto industry veterans who have helped to make Argus a go-to shop for cybersecurity on wheels.


The dilemma for many e-tailers today is whether to focus on building their own online stores or dedicate themselves to selling through Amazon. BigCommerce allows them to do both with little incremental gain in cost and labor. BigCommerce builds and hosts online stores and provides the software to manage them. From the BigCommerce dashboard, retailers can manage listings, inventory, and payments in their own store as well as simultaneous listings with Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. The Austin-based company offers differentiated products–and pricing plans–for upstarts and high-volume brands, including Camelbak and Martha Stewart. Founded in 2009, the company has raised $155million from investors such as General Catalyst and American Express Ventures.


ControlUp allows a company to monitor, analyze, and troubleshoot its entire IT infrastructure from a single dashboard. In a sense, it is like having a whole IT staff carrying out maintenance, providing early warning signs, and sharing insights around the clock–which frees up actual personnel to do other work that produces value. With a base of 500 enterprise customers, ControlUp has collected valuable data of its own. It feeds all of the data it collects back into algorithms that help detect its customers’ IT problems early, identify where costs can be cut and share other insights. In many cases, ControlUp can even intervene automatically to fix bugs. When it can’t, it flags problems for a company’s staff. The company raised $10 million in March.


dLocal is a platform that enables e-commerce companies and marketplaces to sell to consumers in emerging markets. The San Francisco-headquartered startup, founded last year, handles the merchant processing, backend and compliance for online payments from countries that Western companies find traditionally difficult to sell to, for a variety of reasons. These include fraud, regulation, tax complexity and others. By partnering with dLocal, a company can gain access to sell its products and services in dozens of markets – including Latin America, China and India – without assuming the country-by-country localization costs and fraud risks. With the ever-increasing trend towards globalization, dLocal seems to have picked the right niche at the right moment.


In the arms race between cybersecurity experts and hackers, the good guys often seem to be a step behind. The problem is that by the time they have developed tools to detect and repel the latest malware, hackers have developed something new. Exabeam, a cybersecurity firm in San Mateo, CA, has created an alternative approach. Rather than looking for hacking tools, Exabeam’s technology monitors human behavior on a company’s networks. Relying on big data analytics, it can identify suspicious activity and notify security teams. This user-behavior approach is particularly useful for protecting against insider threats–attempts at hacking or sabotage from employees or contractors who have regular access to a network. In a worst case scenario, Exabeam’s software can also be deployed as a forensics tool to analyze an attack that has already occurred.


What if online shopping became an experience where peer reviews and ratings from across the web were curated and accessible next to any product on any retailer’s site? Feelter has made this a reality by creating a platform that enables an e-tailer to automatically aggregate consumer feedback from review sites and social networks and present the data in a simple screen layover next to every product on its site. The benefit? Bring wisdom and truth from the crowd right to each product on your site, in order to increase consumer confidence and conversions (or alert you to problematic products and what can be improved). The Tel Aviv startup has raised $4 million in funding and won GMIC’s global startup competition last year.


A standout in real estate technology, Floored created a new product category in a staid industry. Founded as a 3D modeling software firm in 2012, Floored “backed into real estate,” in the words of its founder David Eisenberg. While considering the process of leasing commercial real estate, he sensed an opportunity. Potential tenants would walk through empty spaces and compare metrics like square footage, while never getting a clear sense of how an office would look until they hired architects. He wondered how much more effective brokers could be in closing deals if they could show prospective tenants something more compelling. Today, Floored creates immersive, 3D models of offices that brokers can share during the leasing process. Tenants get the opportunity to digitally “walk through” a furnished, fully designed office before making a decision. In January, CBRE, one of the world’s biggest real estate companies, bought Floored–and hired its management team–for an undisclosed sum


Kaltura has become a leader in delivering video online. If you’ve ever watched a video on the web, you’ve probably used Kaltura’s technology without knowing it. Part of the reason Kaltura has become widespread–if, largely, invisible–is its relentless development of new video technologies. Today, the company’s products include everything from its bread-and-butter online video platform for organizations to a full OTT offering for media companies. Kaltura’s apps also support integration with almost any third-party software its customers might want to use, ranging from Moodle and Sakai to IBM Connections and Drupal. Rumored to be worth more than $1 billion, the New York-based, Israel-founded company has moved firmly out of startup territory even if it remains a nimble innovator.

Movable Ink

Movable Ink has created a platform for highly customizable marketing emails. Movable Ink refers to its emails as “containers” for content because they can be filled with just about anything–text, video, account information–at any time. In fact, the content of the email isn’t even determined until a recipient clicks to open it. At that moment, Movable Ink’s software accounts for where the recipient is, what time it is, and what device she is using, among other variables. Then it fills the “container” with the content it predicts is most likely to grab her attention. The company’s case studies boast impressive results, like the doubling of click-through rates. The New York-based startup’s client list currently boasts a diverse set of businesses including The New York Times, Delta, and McDonald’s.


Tomas Gorny has been on a mission to improve business communication for over a decade. After the turn-of-the-century, enterprise phone systems were still unaffordable, unreliable and hard to use. Gorny formed Nextiva to create a user-friendly and reliable phone system for SMBs and enterprises at an affordable price. A decade later, Arizona-based Nextiva has become a leading VoIP provider with 150,000 business customers, 800 employees and $125 million in annual revenue. But Gorny’s vision of improving how businesses communicate doesn’t stop there. The company is rolling out a brand-new platform, NextOS, which will combine every aspect of the business communication ecosystem – including phone, chat, CRM, surveys and others – into a cohesive customer sentiment analysis tool that helps businesses better understand and cater to each individual user. NextOS will be released at the company’s upcoming annual conference, NextCon, which is aptly focused on how businesses can improve their customer experience.


Imagine an autonomous car’s hardware systems freezing, malfunctioning or breaking down in the middle of a drive. Or picture your smartphone catching fire during a flight. Well, the latter doesn’t need to be conceptualized since it already happened with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. In our world of rapidly accelerating innovation and transition towards electronic systems, there are tremendous risks and liabilities if hardware quality isn’t maximized and defects minimized. Enter OptimalPlus, an Israel-based manufacturing analytics platform that uses big data to reduce the number of defective parts manufactured in electronics and semiconductors. The awesome thing about this platform is that it doesn’t just detect and alert problems, it also diagnoses what needs to be done to fix them, and impressively, actively implements the necessary solutions without human intervention. In a world where everything is connected and technological, ensuring the integrity of systems is more important than ever – which is why OptimalPlus seems to have struck gold.


Dublin-based Pulsate was founded in 2013 to help brick-and-mortar businesses manage iBeacons. iBeacons were then a newly introduced technology, developed by Apple, that allowed businesses to transmit information to nearby consumers using Bluetooth. For example, iBeacons allow retailers to share deals or pull up loyalty programs in proprietary apps. Since its founding, Pulsate has evolved into a more comprehensive mobile retail platform. In addition to iBeacon support, it now embeds chat features and e-commerce functions in its customers’ mobile apps. Current customers include Paypal, Telepizza, and Coors Light. The venture-backed startup has raised a bit less than $3 million in two funding rounds.


Rain, a small L.A.-based startup, seems to have cracked the code for hyperlocal mobile advertising. The key is serving ads to users in apps they use frequently and while on the move–like Waze and Instagram. Rain’s clients–including chains like McDonald’s and CVS–use Rain to offer potential customers deals when they are just a few blocks away from a retail location. (In Waze, users can simply tap a button that says “Drive There” to take advantage of a deal.) If a user interacts with an ad, but doesn’t act on it, Rain can “re-market” to the same user by following him through other apps and the mobile web. On the backend, Rain offers detailed analytics so advertisers can track engagement and conversion rates–leaving no question about ROI.


Seattle-based Socrata is a leader in creating technology platforms for government. In partnership with local, state, and federal government agencies, Socrata turns public government records into tools. In Dallas and Baltimore, police departments have partnered with Socrata to monitor and report data on violent encounters between officers and the public. In Douglas County, Kansas, Socrata has digitized the annual budget. In Massachusetts, it has analyzed and published state financial information so that agencies and the public can more easily draw insights from it. At agencies throughout the country, Socrata has provided or created tools to help governments track performance of public initiatives. Founded in 2007 with venture capital backing, Socrata has raised $55 million of equity investments to date.


In our ever-increasing mobile driven world, applications and companies at large have opportunities to reach, penetrate and monetize markets like never before. But with the endless amount of users, interactions and data available, who can make sense of it all? New York-based StartApp is an insights driven mobile company that empowers app developers, social companies and other types of businesses to understand their users, better connect and engage with them, as well as improve monetization. The company started as a mobile ad network and collected so much data across so many devices that it began to leverage the insights it had gained by selling them to businesses. StartApp is now a one-stop mobile powerhouse, offering its legacy ad network to monetize and reach users, an ad unit creation service, data that helps businesses better understand their users, and a content creation offering.


Boston-based Turbonomic provides a platform that predicts demand on network resources and distributes cloud computing power to meet it. It does this with what it calls an “autonomic platform” that constantly runs supply and demand simulations and has the power to auto-regulate complex cloud environments. The result is much more efficient and stable networks, which ultimately allows companies to move even more of their computing to the cloud. The company’s technology appears to be unique, which has attracted a flood of investment. Turbonomic has raised over $100 million and reportedly has been in recent talks with Cisco about a potential acquisition.


Vestmark provides a wealth management platform to professional financial advisors. Major customers include Fidelity Investment and Edward Jones. Overall, Vestmark’s software handles 1.5 million accounts with a total of $500 billion in assets. The software can handle the digital side of almost every aspect of account management, from monitoring stock trading to reporting account balances to clients. But perhaps the most valuable function is compliance. Vestmark helps its customers remain compliant with the thicket of ever-changing rules and regulations that govern their business. In an age when the political pendulum can swing quickly from regulation to deregulation and when federal rules are frequently reinterpreted, automated help with compliance is more than a convenience–it’s a business necessity. In the past year and a half alone Vestmark has raised $37 million in equity investments as it has continued to update and expand its software.


After ten years of academic investigation at the University of Maryland, the researchers behind VisiSonics brought their “3D audio” technology to market in 2012. Now it will serve as the audio that pairs with virtual reality experiences delivered through Oculus headsets. VisiSonic’s technology allows virtual reality developers to include location-specific sound in their VR games and films. The sound of footsteps, for example, can “come from” behind you; when you turn you will hear the footsteps approaching you. Remarkably, this 3D audio experience is delivered through normal stereo headphones. Recording in 3D, on the other hand, requires special hardware: a spherical microphone developed by VisiSonics that records sound and location data with “pinpoint accuracy,” the company claims. Ultimately, this kind of immersive audio will be necessary to create fully immersive VR experiences.

Zebra Medical Vision

One of the most valuable sources of health science data has usually been off-limits to researchers: clinical medical records. Zebra is aiming to change that by compiling and analyzing vast troves of records. Its objective is two-fold. First, founders Elad Benjamin, Eyal Toledano and Eyal Gura want to make their anonymized, indexed database of clinical records available to scientists as an open research tool. Second, they are using machine learning analysis of the records to develop new diagnostic tools. So far Zebra has released one algorithm that can detect breast cancer at an early stage and others that detect diseases of the liver and arteries. The founders say more algorithms are coming in the second half of 2017. In the long run, Zebra’s big data approach to disease detection could help doctors make earlier and more accurate diagnoses. Beyond the health benefits, early diagnosis can be financially valuable–by preventing more costly treatment of advanced diseases.


Founded by two veterans of the consumer electronics industry, Zive brings what it calls a “humanistic” and “friendly” design philosophy to software. The company’s first product, Kiwi for Gmail, converts the entire G Suite of cloud software–including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and Google Docs–into native desktop apps. It enables users to access all of the functionality of the Google programs from well-designed desktop apps without ever opening a web browser. “The browser is great for content consumption,” says Eric Shashoua, Zive’s CEO, “but very limiting when it comes to content creation.”

20 Tech Innovators to Watch in 2018

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

Apple’s new home in Cupertino — the centerpiece being a $5 billion, four-story, 2.8 million-square-foot ring that can be seen from space and that locals call the spaceship — is still getting some final touches, and employees have just started to trickle in. The full squadron, about 12,000 people, will arrive in several months.

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

Things change when a spaceship comes to town.

Tourists stroll by, whipping out their iPhones to get a photo. New businesses move in. And real estate prices go up even more.

Apple’s new home in Cupertino — the centerpiece being a $5 billion, four-story, 2.8 million-square-foot ring that can be seen from space and that locals call the spaceship — is still getting some final touches, and employees have just started to trickle in. The full squadron, about 12,000 people, will arrive in several months.

But the development of the headquarters, a 175-acre area officially called Apple Park, has already helped transform the surrounding area.

In Sunnyvale, a town just across the street, 95 development projects are in the planning stages. The city manager, Deanna J. Santana, said she had never seen such action before. In Cupertino, a Main Street Cupertino living and dining complex opened in early 2016. This downtown enclave includes the Lofts, a 120-unit apartment community opening this fall; small shops; and numerous restaurants and cafes.

Other local businesses are also gearing up in anticipation. A Residence Inn at Main Street Cupertino, expected to open in September, has been slightly customized to meet the needs of Apple employees. Guests will have access to Macs and high-speed internet connections, said Mark Lynn, a partner with Sand Hill Hotel Management, which operates the hotel and consulted with Apple about what its employees need at a hotel.

“All the things we have, lined up with what they needed,” Mr. Lynn said. “They will represent a large part of our business.”

The Birdland neighborhood in Sunnyvale, Calif., on the other side of the road from Apple Park. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times

Tech companies are nothing new for Cupertino. Apple has called the city home for decades, and Hewlett-Packard had a campus in Apple’s new spot, employing 9,000 people. The surrounding towns have been remade as well in the last decade, as giant tech companies have transformed Silicon Valley’s real estate into some of the most expensive in the country.

But city officials and residents say this project is like nothing they’ve seen before. It is even bringing tourists.

Onlookers snap pictures of the spaceship from the streets. TV helicopters circle above. Amateur photographers ask residents if they can stand on driveways to operate their drones, hoping to get a closer look at Apple Park.

“I just say, ‘Hey, go ahead,’” said Ron Nielsen, who lives in Birdland, a Sunnyvale neighborhood across the street from the spaceship. “Why not?”

Drone operators want that coveted aerial shot while pedestrians want to get an eyeful of the curved glass building before the headquarters become hidden by a man-made forest.

Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council (6/7/11)
Video by Cupertino City Channel

The campus is one of the last major projects started by Steven P. Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple, who died six years ago. Just a few months before his death, he went before the Cupertino City Council and laid out his vision for a futuristic circular house of glass that would foster creativity and collaboration. Two years later, the Council unanimously approved the plans for the campus.

The main center features the spaceship ring, the Steve Jobs Theater, a 100,000-square-foot gym and a visitors center in a woodland setting with two miles of running and walking paths. An orchard, a meadow and a pond are inside the ring.

Sheri and Ron Nielsen outside their home in Sunnyvale. The front of their house faces Apple Park. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times

The entire project shows off Apple’s obsession with details. The custom windows were made in Germany and are considered the world’s largest panels of curved glass. One pair of glass doors is 92 feet high. The finish on the underground concrete garage, said David Brandt, Cupertino’s city manager, is so shiny it is almost like glass.

“Mind-blowing, mind-blowing, mind-blowing,” the mayor, Savita Vaidhyanathan, said about her visit to the site. “I saw the underground 1,000-seat theater and the carbon-fiber roof. The roof was made in Dubai, and it was transported and assembled here. I love that it’s here and that I can brag about it.”

Many of the public views will soon be going away. Apple Park will eventually have 9,000 trees, filling in much of the big open spaces. The public will instead have access to a visitors center with a cafe, a store and rooftop observation views. 

“It will be a separate glass structure and be set in an old-growth olive tree grove,” said Dan Whisenhunt, Apple’s vice president of real estate and development.

Not all of these changes have thrilled everyone. Residents of Birdland, an 877-home neighborhood, have been particularly vocal. They have complained about early-morning construction rigs that beep and rumble along major streets, unpredictable road closings, unsightly green sheeted barriers and construction potholes that result in punctured tires.

When her car was covered with construction dust, Sheri Nielsen, Mr. Nielsen’s wife, contacted Apple. The company sent carwash certificates.

Mr. Whisenhunt said the company strove to answer every complaint it received, “and if the issue is serious enough, I will personally visit to see what is going on.”


Art Maryon, a real estate agent, in the Birdland neighborhood. He said the neighborhood’s one-story ranch-style homes had been selling for $1.6 million to $1.8 million. Credit Laura Morton for The New York Times 

In the design phase, he said, Apple hosted more than 110 community gatherings for feedback. Birdland was addressed in late 2012 and early 2013 and was given information about what would be happening over the next three years of construction. Apple published community mailers five times and sent them to 26,000 households.

Homestead Road, the thoroughfare that separates Apple Park from Birdland, became its own subject of debate. Cupertino officials wanted to construct a tree-lined median to calm traffic. Apple offered to cover the costs.

But homeowners objected. Residents complained that the island would eliminate one lane, backing up the heavy traffic even more. When 20 or so neighbors approached a Sunnyvale town meeting in solidarity, the city ended up siding with the residents.

The price of property in the neighborhood has also become a source of some worry. Sunnyvale and Cupertino, like many other Silicon Valley towns, have had an extended real estate boom, as the tech industry has expanded. Prices in the area really started to rise, real estate agents and residents said, after Apple released its plans.

A three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,400-square-foot ranch-style house that cost $750,000 in 2011 has doubled in price. Since Apple said it was moving into the former Hewlett-Packard site, prices have moved up 15 to 20 percent year after year, said Art Maryon, a local real estate agent. Today, bidders usually offer 20 to 25 percent over the asking price.

Birdland is already drawing Apple employees, replacing homeowners who have cashed out to move to quieter regions. Those who remain are realizing that life will not be the same when all 12,000 of the Apple workers go in and come out on a daily basis. People in the neighborhood dread the increased traffic and expect workers to park in front of their homes since there will be fewer available spaces in the company garage.

Apple’s answers to concerned residents will continue, Mr. Whisenhunt said.

“When you tell people what is upcoming, some of the anxiety they have calms down a lot,” he said.

And yet, he acknowledged, “you don’t make everyone happy.”

Apple Disrupts Silicon Valley With Another Eye-Catcher: Its New Home

Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

It’s World Water Day. Time to wake up and take shorter showers. That is, if we’re fortunate enough to have them. Water scarcity and pollution are persistent global problems. According to End Water Poverty, some 663 million people around the world have absolutely no reliable access to clean, safe water year-round. And two-thirds of the world population faces water scarcity for at least one month every year.

In the wealthy US, we’re facing a different kind of water crisis largely of our own making. In 2016 only 9 states reported safe lead levels in their schools’ water supply. Lead and copper contamination can come from irresponsible industry, aging pipes, ineffectual water treatment plants and too little investment in our public water infrastructure.

Droughts and natural disasters can cut off access to potable and sanitary water anywhere in the world, too. Haiti is known as a “pipeless nation,” still recovering from 2010’s catastrophic earthquake and consequent natural disasters. In Haiti, only one-quarter of residents have access to toilets, according to the World Bank. And it’s hard to believe it, but giant freshwater sources in North America like Lake Mead in Arizona or the Colorado River may not be able to keep pumping to residents’ homes and businesses much longer thanks to drought and pollution.

Our daily consumption of water affects future supply, of course. Right now, according to research by WWF, wasteful irrigation systems on farms consume about 70% of the world’s freshwater, over double that of any other industry. By contrast, municipal water represents a mere 8% of global use. Bad irrigation practices in farming can hurt our water in other ways, washing pollutants into rivers, streams or other freshwater ecosystems.

At TechCrunch, we’re lucky to see the hopeful ways that startups, investors and other organizations are working to solve huge problems plaguing humanity with tech, including the global water crisis. Here are 12 to watch:

1. Water Is Life

The nonprofit Water is Life makes and distributes portable water filters that look like big straws. The components inside the straws are “membranes, iodized crystals and active carbon,” which eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses including typhoid, cholera, E. coli, and reduce other harmful particles so people can drink safely wherever they go. Water is Life also creates educational campaigns, and even a VR game, to teach kids why and how they should clean or filter water before they drink from a potentially unsafe source.

2. charity: water

Charity: water is focused on helping people get access to clean water. Founder Scott Harrison has gotten support from the tech community throughout the years, with entrepreneurs like Sean Parker and Michael Birch involved with the organization.

3. The Human Utility: Detroit Water Project 

Backed by Y Combinator, TeeSpring and the Shuttleworth Foundation, The Human Utility is helping low-income families get help paying for their water bills so their taps won’t be turned off by utilities leaving them thirsty in their own homes.

4. WaterSmart

WaterSmart’s software helps the water industry understand what’s happening to every last drop of H2O. It aggregates and analyzes information from millions of water meters, predicts demand, and helps utilities communicate with customers about everything from leaks at home to service or rate changes. WaterSmart is making moves with a recent $7 million raise at a $21 million pre-money valuation.

5. Valor Water

Backed by Y Combinator, Valor Water helps utilities understand who is wasting and who is conserving water among their customers. With that data, they can target rate hikes at water pigs, and cut conservationists a good deal to incentivize responsible water use. The company previously competed in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield in San Francisco.


TOTO manufactures high-efficiency toilets and has been named a Water Efficiency Leader by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which lauded its sustainable manufacturing and advocacy efforts. The company’s toilets clean themselves with electrolyzed water after every use. TOTO invited TechCrunch to test-drive their latest bidet-and-toilet model at CES this year, but our reporter declined since he was doing the story on camera.

7. Pluto AI

This company, which was one of our favorites from 500 Startups’ 19th class, is developing an application of deep learning for water management. Pluto.ai uses data and machine learning to predict infrastructure failures and to monitor water usage. The company is striving to reduce operating costs at two of the 10 largest water companies in the world who it counts among its partners today.

8. ImagineH20

Imagine H2O is a water-focused accelerator and fund providing water entrepreneurs with “the resources, insight and visibility to launch and scale successful businesses.” The company’s annual water innovation prize rallies entrepreneurs to focus on solving different water-related problems with their technology. This year’s winner, Utilis, uses satellite imagery and big data analytics to find leaks in underground water supplies to large, urban markets so that cities can stop them and save that water for residential use.

9. XPV Water Partners

A Toronto-based venture firm called XPV Water Partners has developed a specialization around startups in the water industry, one of the most regulated sectors in every nation. Its portfolio includes microbial monitoring tech startup LuminUltra, water reclamation and reuse venture Natural Systems Utilities, and Shenandoah Growers, a grower of organic herbs that uses 90% less water than required with traditional farming methods, but no photo-sharing or dating apps.

10Planet Water Foundation

This nonprofit installs water filtration systems in rural communities and at schools around the world so they can have clean, safe drinking water. The systems, called Aqua Towers, trap harmful particles, and kill bacteria and viruses, providing 1,000 people with 10,000 liters of clean water per unit daily.

11. RWL Water 

New York-based RWL Water builds desalination plants and wastewater treatment systems around the world.  The company works to provide a power supply to customers who are in geographically remote areas but need water to power their communities and businesses. Most recently, RWL acquired a water plant in São Paulo, Brazil, a market that has been struggling to keep its residents and businesses in clean water after a two year, El Niño drought.

12. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a tour de force supporting tech to solve problems that plague humanity. The foundation’s Water & Sanitation Hygiene Challenge, and Reinvent the Toilet fair award grants to organizations that improve sanitation in the developing world. According to the foundation’s own research, “Better sanitation contributes to economic development, delivering up to $5 in social and economic benefits for every $1 invested through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, and prevention of illness, disability, and early death.”

Causes of the global water crisis and 12 companies trying to solve it

9 Revolutionary Companies to Watch

9 Revolutionary Companies to Watch

Nine little-known companies are working hard to bring game-changing tech to market.

This year is off and running with some extraordinary companies starting to make a name for themselves.

I attend countless conferences and meetups. Over the course of my travels I meet with some of the most promising companies in the world. They’ve lead me over the years to discover three billion dollar unicorns before anyone else had written about them. Rather than opting to emulate what’s on the market, here are a few companies that have stood out to me and I believe could be unicorns in the future.

Check out these nine companies to watch this year:

1. My Size

This company has found a way to bring measurement tools for life to your smartphone to make so many tasks easier to handle. It’s not like we carry around physical measuring tools like a tape measure in our handbag or back pocket (unless we happen to be a contractor or seamstress). Rather than having to second-guess, My Size lets you get an accurate reading. For example, their app, MySizeID, gives you, as an online shopper, a way to maintain a profile of your personal measurements to ensure that you get the right size every time you buy clothing or accessories no matter what the brand or size chart specifications. Retailers get the added benefit from such a revolutionary tool because the exact size means fewer returns.

Related: The Highest Paying Jobs in America, According to Glassdoor

2. POC Medical

This medical solutions provider recognizes that today’s healthcare system is missing high-quality, affordable solutions for the early detection of diseases that can make a significant difference in the lives of so many people. POC Medical Systems has created a patented point-of-care testing product known as Pandora CDx that is currently used for early diagnosis of breast cancer. Not only is it easy to use for practitioners, but it also reduces the time between getting a test and results. Making it available to a much larger population is revolutionizing how people receive care and can potentially have a dramatic impact on the number of people who can be treated more effectively so that they might be able to beat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

3. Delighted

Imagine getting feedback from your audience in minutes rather than the weeks it’s always taken to send and receive surveys and compile the data. Delighted has revolutionized the entire customer feedback process through its use of the Net Promoter System that delivers a highly complex set of data points about what the customer thinks about their experience to an easy-to-read dashboard. Surveys include mobile, SMS, and Web options for further customization. The entire customer feedback platform doesn’t require any technical know-how on how to collect the data and disseminate it. Customers value the convenience and willingly provide critical insights your business needs to enhance the overall customer experience.

Related: 4 Marketing Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From April the Giraffe

4. Brainly

This company is the largest online education P2P platform connecting more than 80 million students from around the world in a Quora-like environment, solely based on connecting students to help each other with their school work, all free of charge. Brainly is combing social media, online education and machine learning to change the way we see schools in general and classrooms specifically.

5. Riskified

With fraud becoming increasingly sophisticated and retail moving to online eCommerce, fraud prevention platform Riskified has developed a solution to protect eCommerce merchants from chargebacks, all the while mitigating the impact of false declines on retailers. Riskified’s solution is based on self-optimizing machine learning that allows merchants to eliminate the need for any manual adjustments. The platform is able to detect fraud attempts in real-time by analyzing data with its machine learning models and sophisticated proxy detection methods.

6. Kiip

This company is set to revolutionize the mobile advertising market, offering a marketing and monetization platform that consumers actually respond to and enjoy. Kiip leverages what is known as “moment targeting” wherein rewards are offered to the mobile user to take advantage of a moment in time where they are more likely to act and redeem that reward. The app uses al types of analytics to create the moment and reward for that particular consumer, including page, screen, context, geolocation, and device. They are already having worldwide interest, including a strategic partnership with companies in China where consumers’ mobile purchases are climbing steadily.

Related: 8 Movies That Increase Your IQ – #5 Will Test How Smart You Are

7. Clarifai

While much of what is going on with artificial intelligence is already revolutionary, this company is raising the bar on making the impossible a reality. Clarifai specializes in visual recognition and uses machine learning to help companies add this feature to their existing programs and solutions in order to build smarter, more intuitive apps that will, in turn, better serve their customers’ needs. Think of it as a learning tool that does the learning for you so you can then reap the benefits of more effective apps that will boost your business much faster than if you left it up to your developers to try and figure it over a longer period of time.

8. AirMap

With the growth in drone usage, including many companies like Amazon testing delivery service routes, this company is capitalizing on the new need for airspace intelligence to ensure that drones can operate safely and efficiently within shared airspace. AirMap is creating a whole new technology solution for navigation and safety control related to this need, helping drone developers and commercial users to propel drone usage forward across numerous applications and industries.

Related: Being an Entrepreneur Means Finding Profit in Your Passion

9. Woo

Woo is looking to change the way companies hire new talent by using machine learning to match possible candidates with potential employees according to expectations like salary, work life balance and possible career growth. This is all done in a 100% anonymous environment, thus helping top tech giants like Uber, Lyft and Microsoft to hire the best talent. This approach helps companies to find “off market” employees that are not actively looking for a new position.Across numerous business niches, technology, innovation, and creativity are delivering incredible new solutions for common inconveniences and longstanding issues as well as addressing new problems that have emerged from technological trends and developments.

These nine companies represent some of the most revolutionary ideas that I’ve seen recently and capitalize on other ideas that are now becoming an integral part of business and life. It will be exciting to continue tracking their progress throughout the year and beyond.

9 Revolutionary Companies to Watch

The Best Companies to Work for in 2017

The Best Companies to Work for in 2017

Fortune’s famous list is out. If you’re looking for a new job, check out these companies.

The Best Companies to Work for in 2017

Fortune’s famous list is out. If you’re looking for a new job, check out these companies.

Do you want to work for a great company? Or maybe you already work for one of these fantastic companies. Every year Fortune surveys companies and their employees (this is important), crunches the numbers and comes up with the best companies to work for. They released the complete list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for and while a lot is what you expect–Google is number 1 for the 8th time in 11 years, there are some newcomers to the list as well. Here are the top 10:

  1. Google
  2. Wegmans Food Markets
  3. The Boston Consulting Group
  4. Baird
  5. Edward Jones
  6. Genentech
  7. Ultimate Software
  8. Salesforce
  9. Acuity
  10. Quicken Loans

Why You Should Pay Attention to This List

There are many lists of great companies and all should be looked at, but Fortune’s list is the gold standard. Why? Because Fortune surveys a random sample of employees. Other lists often rely on voluntary reports (such as Glassdoor’s lists), or strictly asking the company to fill out an application (such as Working Mother’s list).

But, Fortune, takes a random survey of employees. This gives a real insider’s look at what is going on–companies can’t claim benefits that are on the books but not readily available, for instance. And managers can’t put pressure on people to write positive reviews nor can a couple of disgruntled former employees skew the results.

What Are the Awesome Things About Working For These Top Companies?

Google is known for its awesome perks, like haircuts and laundry services, but it also has great parental-leave policies which encourage moms to come back.

Wegmansemployees say they “feel like family.” In the interest of full disclosure, I worked for Wegmans years ago, and part of my job was to ensure that we paid more than all our competitors. I don’t know if that job still exists, but I do know employees still love working there.

The Boston Consulting Groups employees feel that they have great opportunities for career growth, and the company offers great benefits including telecommuting and $5 co-pays.

Baird is famous for it’s “no assholes” policy, which is a good enough reason to enjoy working there. A majority of employees (two-thirds) are company shareholders, which changes the feeling of working for a company.

Edward Jones focuses on training employees, which not only helps employees learn and grow, it undoubtedly makes for more productive employees.

Genentech employees feel they are all working together in their mission of “making drugs for life-threatening illnesses.”

Ultimate Software employees get restricted stock from day one, and employees report that they feel lucky to work there.

Salesforce employees say that their CEO “truly leads by example.” How many CEOs receive the same praise from their employees?

Acuity may have a “jeans-friendly dress policy” and employee-directed charitable giving, but the coolest thing has to be a 65 foot Ferris wheel inside its headquarters.

Quicken Loans is sports focused, which includes giving employees tickets to local sports events.

If you want to learn about what life is like at the other 90 companies on the list, the entire list is available at Fortune. One of the interesting data points that Fortune collects is the number of open positions, so it may well be that there is a spot open for you.

The Best Companies to Work for in 2017

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

The World's Most Innovative Companies
The World’s Most Innovative Companies
Rank Company Country 12-Month Sales Growth Innovation Premium*
#1 Tesla Motors United States 23.35503728% 82.4%
#2 Salesforce.com United States 25.00310623% 75.5%
#3 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals United States 36.88172524% 72.9%
#4 Incyte United States 46.0699371% 70.8%
#5 Alexion Pharmaceuticals United States 19.24211141% 70%
#6 Under Armour United States 29.27417278% 68.9%
#7 Monster Beverage United States 13.37638736% 68.8%
#8 Unilever Indonesia Indonesia -13.98427381% 67.93%
#9 Vertex Pharmaceuticals United States 147.9493033% 67.9%
#10 BioMarin Pharmaceutical United States 13.43571162% 67.4%
#11 Amazon.com United States 25.91405818% 63.8%
#12 ARM Holdings United Kingdom 20.3783907% 63.7%
#13 Naver South Korea 23.11330645% 63.3%
#14 FleetCor Technologies United States 14.83904549% 62.1%
#15 Netflix United States 24.74884174% 60.3%
#16 Shanghai RAAS Blood Products China 50.90653334% 60.2%
#17 Rakuten Japan 14.75391035% 60%
#18 Asian Paints India 7.609810975% 59.8%
#19 LG Household & Health Care South Korea 15.332049% 59.5%
#20 Verisk Analytics United States 12.36966581% 59.5%
#21 Amorepacific South Korea 21.03029209% 59.1%
#22 Coloplast Denmark 10.08704948% 57.5%
#23 Marriott International United States 5.226873021% 56.5%
#24 Illumina United States 11.72185546% 56%
#25 Red Hat United States 15.83289878% 55.9%
#26 AmerisourceBergen United States 9.599723828% 55.6%
#27 Visa United States 6.308169597% 55.5%
#28 Sysmex Japan 9.644825211% 54.4%
#29 Baidu China 20.03084206% 54.2%
#30 Mastercard United States 6.793164902% 54%
#31 Hindustan Unilever India 54%
#32 Hermès International France 53.7%
#33 TransDigm Group United States 22.30367102% 52.1%
#34 Perrigo Ireland 19.02427687% 52%
#35 The Priceline Group United States 11.47156326% 51.9%
#36 Adobe Systems United States 23.2907817% 51.7%
#37 Cerner United States 19.77776212% 51.4%
#38 Ulta Salon Cosmetcs & Fragrance United States 21.61511502% 51.4%
#39 Chipotle Mexican Grill United States -8.863600488% 51.1%
#40 Almarai Saudi Arabia 9.758190756% 51%
#41 Fast Retailing Japan 51%
#42 Starbucks United States 11.37412455% 50.8%
#43 Unicharm Japan 1.899656929% 50.6%
#44 Sirius XM Radio United States 10.34398616% 49%
#45 Iliad France 48.5%
#46 Magnit Russia 48.5%
#47 Autodesk United States -8.15830721% 48.1%
#48 Tencent Holdings China 31.91832908% 48%
#49 BesTV New Media China 604.3609019% 47.8%
#50 Lindt & Sprungli Switzerland 47.8%
#51 Reckitt Benckiser Group United Kingdom 47.8%
#52 Cielo Brazil 31.22165469% 47.7%
#53 Ctrip.com International China 53.36607746% 47.7%
#54 Mead Johnson Nutrition United States -10.75213953% 47.5%
#55 Shimano Japan -6.679413332% 47.1%
#56 Kone Finland 10.34487099% 47%
#57 Dassault Systemes France 12.10758886% 46.9%
#58 Expedia United States 26.72907876% 46.7%
#59 ProSiebenSat1 Media Germany 16.20524666% 46.1%
#60 Brown-Forman United States -1.460564752% 45.7%
#61 SBA Communications United States 0.256482325% 45.3%
#62 Essilor International France 45.2%
#63 Allergan United States -11.06705322% 44.9%
#64 Keyence Japan 13.54592646% 44.9%
#65 Oriental Land Japan 0.792523461% 44.2%
#66 Tata Consultancy Services India 14.33485032% 44.1%
#67 Intuitive Surgical United States 11.35063792% 43.9%
#68 Fastenal United States 1.575807654% 43.3%
#69 Roper Industries United States 2.132861974% 43.2%
#70 Smith & Nephew United Kingdom 43.2%
#71 Experian Ireland 43.1%
#72 Colgate-Palmolive United States -7.35540153% 43%
#73 Sun Pharma Industries India 45.4621078% 42.8%
#74 Acuity Brands United States 19.47704423% 42.5%
#75 Molson Coors Brewing United States -8.89668616% 42.4%
#76 Fanuc Japan -27.52907909% 42.2%
#77 Inditex Spain 14.20497786% 42.1%
#78 Luxottica Group Italy -3.579247091% 42.1%
#79 SABMiller United Kingdom 42%
#80 CR Bard United States 4.880504635% 42%
#81 General Mills United States -6.053215203% 42%
#82 Novozymes Denmark 7.896962707% 41.6%
#83 Edwards Lifesciences United States 12.77286742% 41.3%
#84 Equifax United States 13.28712177% 40.9%
#85 Geberit Switzerland 23.2019523% 40.7%
#86 Capita United Kingdom 40.4%
#87 Falabella Chile 8.970031304% 40.4%
#88 Liberty Global United Kingdom 0.65600746% 40.2%
#89 Larsen & Toubro India 10.75150619% 40%
#90 Assa Abloy Sweden 11.03516246% 39.9%
#91 Hikvision China 33.3114954% 39.8%
#92 Constellation Brands United States 10.73986459% 39.7%
#93 Coca-Cola United States -5.614483869% 39.7%
#94 Omnicom Group United States 0.573617536% 39.7%
#95 Paychex United States 7.753239642% 39.5%
#96 Starwood Hotels United States -6.171370282% 39.5%
#97 ITV United Kingdom 39.4%
#98 Church & Dwight United States 2.824724508% 39.3%
#99 Grifols Spain 9.340417413% 39%
#100 AVIC Aviation Engine China -24.48847785% 39%

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

Change the World

Change the World

More businesses are taking on society’s biggest problems—and making money doing so. Here’s Fortune’s look at 50 companies that do well by doing good.

Change the World

More businesses are taking on society’s biggest problems—and making money doing so. Here’s Fortune’s look at 50 companies that do well by doing good.

Rank Company
1 GlaxoSmithKline
2 IDE Technologies
3 General Electric
4 Gilead Sciences
5 Nestlé
6 Nike
7 MasterCard
8 United Technologies
9 Novozymes
10 First Solar
11 Coca-Cola
12 Intel
13 Munich Re
14 Fibria Celulose
15 Walmart
16 Bank of America
17 Crystal Group
18 Ito En
19 PayPal Holdings
20 Skandia
21 Siemens
22 National Australia Bank
23 Olam International
24 Schneider Electric
25 McDonald’s
26 Salesforce.com
27 Unilever
28 CVS
29 Accenture
30 Didi Chuxing
31 Johnson & Johnson
32 Banco de Crédito
33 Compass Group
34 mPedigree
35 LinkedIn
36 Smart Communications
37 Becton Dickinson
38 PepsiCo
39 Panasonic
40 Gap
41 Tribanco
42 DSM
43 Heineken
45 Starbucks
46 Cipla
47 IBM
48 Godrej Group
49 Grupo Bimbo
50 Tesla Motors

Change the World

These 10 Companies Are Changing the World

These 10 Companies Are Changing the World

More businesses are taking on society’s biggest problems—and making money doing so. Here’s Fortune’s look at companies that do well by doing good.

See Fortune’s full 50-company list here.

1. GlaxoSmithKline

  • A health worker vaccinated children at Ba Kwasumba Health Centre, Cilundu Health Zone, Kasai Oriental Province, DRC. Save The Children and GSK have together successfully created a vaccination programme against preventable diseases for children under 5.GSK’s PRIME project beginning in 2014 will provide essential free medicines and equipment to under equipped Health Centres in DRC. GSK PRIME will improve access to health services through refurbishing health centers, training, equipping and supporting frontline health workers and driving a demand for health services from communities where children currently have no access to health care. DRC is one of the worst countries in the world to be a mother or a child. One in five children die of preventable diseases before reaching their 5th birthday. PRIME will contribute to the wider Save The Children Health Signature Programme in DRC.
    Ivy Lahon/ Save The ChildrenA health worker vaccinated children at Ba Kwasumba Health Centre, Cilundu Health Zone, Kasai Oriental Province, DRC. 
    Breaking down global health care barriers and finding the customers of the future.

    Early next year, if all goes according to plan, Sir Andrew Witty will step down after nine years as CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s sixth largest pharmaceutical company. He’ll leave behind a company with an unmatched record for balancing scientific progress, social impact and the profit motive.

    GSK has made a calculated bet on intellectual property leniency in poor nations, releasing drugs from patent protection and thus lowering their prices. That may depress revenue, but GSK says it doesn’t lose money in any market where it operates. And over time the approach builds goodwill and a strong market presence around the globe. “GSK has existed for 300 years,” Witty tells Fortune. “We think about how we can be successful, not just in the next year or the next two years, but in the next 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 years.” The near term looks good: GSK’s revenue grew 4% in the second quarter of 2016, as new product sales crossed the $1.5 billion threshold for the first time.

     In March, GSK announced that it will no longer file drug patents in the lowest-income regions of the world—an integral part of its patient access strategy. The company is hardly a passive partner in these regions, however. GSK reinvests 20% of any profits it makes in the least developed countries into training health workers and building medical infrastructure. For instance, through a partnership with the NGO Save the Children, the drugmaker has trained locals to properly administer vaccinations and screen for conditions like malnutrition. ViiV Healthcare, an HIV therapy unit majority owned by GSK, struck a landmark deal with the government of Botswana in June to make the HIV drug Tivicay available as part of a national program to test and treat as many people as possible. And the company has strengthened its commitment to vaccine development, including the world’s first malaria vaccine, which could curb a disease that kills more than half a million people a year.
    GSK has also leveraged products from its formidable consumer health business into medical solutions, creating the umbilical cord infection-fighting Umbipro gel out of a component in one of its mouthwashes. The product doesn’t need refrigeration and could save 85,000 babies per year, according to United Nations.

    2. IDE Technologies

    People walk in a desalination plant before during its inauguration in Hadera
    Nir Elias — Reuters People walk in a desalination plant during its inauguration in the coastal city of Hadera, north of Tel Aviv.
    In regions where freshwater is hard to find, its engineering ­alchemy converts oceanic salt­water for drinking and irrigation.

    Call it the Rumplestiltskin of the desert. Like the fabled dwarf who could transform straw into gold, IDE, a leader in desalination technologies, turns salt water into fresh water.

    The Israeli company supplies 70% of the tiny Middle Eastern country’s potable H2O. Its largest local plant, located just south of Tel Aviv, produces 165 million gallons of freshwater daily. Privately held IDE also builds and operates some of the biggest desalination plants in about 40 other countries, including Mexico, Chile and China. In the U.S., the 51-year-old company recently opened the largest such plant in the Western hemisphere, located in the Southern California city of Carlsbad, near San Diego. The site, a $1 billion undertaking, transforms seawater into potable water in just 45 minutes and provides some 8% of San Diego County’s water. Remarkably, it costs less than 0.5 cents to produce a gallon of drinking water at the Carlsbad plant. The increased cost to homeowners, meanwhile, will average an additional $5 per month. That’s still a lot lower than previous attempts at desalination.

    IDE’s secret sauce? Over the years, its Israel-based researchers have developed a wide range of energy- and cost-efficient desalination processes, including using “waste steam” to generate electricity, and a proprietary “pressure center” that allows large plants to perform maintenance via the Internet. Another key innovation is the company’s so-called membranes (the special pipes that separate water from larger salt molecules), which don’t require chemical-intensive cleaning. This makes for a faster, more cost-efficient and environment-friendly desalination process. Given recent water shortages in some regions of the world, a situation aggravated by warming temperatures and climate change, those kinds of breakthroughs are almost as good as gold.

    3. General Electric

    Courtesy of GE
    A huge clean-tech bet pays off.

    It’s been more than a decade since GE launched its massive renewable business strategy, Ecomagination, with a pledge to double down on clean tech and generate $20 billion in annual revenue from green products. The ensuing 11 years have proved Ecomagination was more than just a PR ploy. Through the end of 2015, GEhad invested $17 billion in clean tech R&D through Ecomagination while generating $232 billion in revenue from its products.

    Last year, GE Transportation began manufacturing its Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive, which the company says will reduce emissions by more than 70% from the previous model. Through Ecomagination, GE also launched a concept called the Digital Wind Farm, which the it sayscan boost a wind farm’s energy production by 20%. It uses GE’s Predix operating system, which monitors turbine performance and uses predictive analytics to find the best way to align the turbines. Ecomagination’s decade-long manufacturing of energy-efficient technologies like these—along with the acquisition of Alstom’s power division last year—has now made GE responsible for about one-third of the world’s electricity capacity, making its commitment to clean energy a critical step for the future.

    4. Gilead Sciences

    Courtesy of Gilead
    A force fighting HIV and hepatitis where money is scarce.

    Pharmaceutical companies—especially the profitable ones—can make for easy villains in the U.S. For example, Gilead Sciences has been lambasted for the high list price of its game-changing hepatitis C cure Sovaldi, infamous as the “$1,000 pill.”

    But in India, a 28-day supply of a generic version of the drug now costs just $100, according to the company. That’s because Gilead has struck deals with 11 different Indian generic drugmakers to supply affordable versions of its hep C drugs to patients in 101 developing countries. And then there’s Egypt, the nation with the highest incidence of hepatitis C in the world (more than 10% of the population is infected). Gilead slashed the price of branded Sovaldi there by 99%.

    The firm takes a similar approach to its HIV franchise, which has posted strong sales in recent earnings reports. In fact, 2016 is the 10-year anniversary of Gilead’s HIV licensing agreements in the developing world, and the company says it’s on the cusp of having 10 million people in poor countries treated with its HIV drugs.

    5. Nestlé

    Courtesy of Nestlé 
    Food is more than just food when it’s fortified with nutrients that billions would otherwise lack.

    Nestlé isn’t perfect—it’s the world’s leading seller of bottled water, for one thing—but the 150-year old Swiss company does get a lot of things right. It sources locally, boosting developing economies and the livelihood of smallholder farmers in more than 50 countries. It has worked to purge slavery and child labor from its supply chains. In its 16-year quest to become a “Nutrition, Health and Wellness” company, it has made concerted progress: cutting fat, sugar and sodium from thousands of products, while fortifying many others—192 billion servings worth in 2015—with essential minerals and nutrients that are in especially short supply in low- and middle-income countries. Such efforts are research-based and tailored to the needs and tastes of each market—Nestlé deploys iron-enhanced soup cubes in much of Africa to fight anemia, for example. And, with research partners, it’s working to bring nutrition benefits to the food chain more widely by developing biofortified crops (think pro-vitamin maize). Given the reach of the world’s largest food and beverage company, all this—which Nestlé tracks in its annual “Creating Shared Value” report (351 pages in 2015)—makes a difference.

    6. Nike

    Spencer Lowell for Fortune
    Reducing the impact of the shoes the world runs in and the surfaces it runs on.

    Nike CEO Mark Parker likes to ask his team a single question: “Can we double our business, while halving our environmental impact?” The world’s largest athletic gear company, which first kicked off a recycled shoe program back in 1990, has hit a steady sustainability stride ever since. In a recent report, Nike disclosed that 71% of footwear and apparel uses “Nike Grind,” which is made of recycled polyester and other materials. Grind can be found in yarn and basketball shoes. It has also been incorporated in more than 1 billion square feet of sports surfaces—including running tracks, playgrounds, and football fields­—replacing surface materials like virgin rubber. Meanwhile, the popular Flyknit shoe line, which initially debuted in 2012, is both innovative and eco-friendly. Engineers reduced waste by about 60% on average for every Flyknit shoe vs. what’s used for traditional shoes, saving nearly 2 million pounds of fabric-scrap waste since 2012. New 2020 targets include sourcing 100% of cotton more sustainably and reducing landfill waste. There’s no finish line to becoming a more sustainable company, but the sportswear maker is certainly competitive in the race.

    7. MasterCard

    Courtesy of Mastercard
    Shortening the path between troubled populations and the aid they need.

    MasterCard is making it easier for charities to get help quickly to the people who really need it, and ensure that donations are actually being used for good. The MasterCard Aid Network, launched last September, distributes a version of the company’s plastic cards (similar to a gift or prepaid card) that come loaded with points that can be redeemed at certain merchants for groceries, medicine, shelter and even building materials or business supplies. The chip-enabled system can be deployed in a day or two compared to the weeks required to create and import paper vouchers.

    The system doesn’t require an Internet connection—a boon in off-the-grid areas where many refugees and disaster victims are concentrated. Still, the transactions enable organizations to collect data on what card recipients redeem, allowing charities to protect against fraudulent use and gather insight into beneficiaries’ needs.

    So far, organizations including Save the Children, World Vision and Mercy Corps have distributed cards to more than 75,000 people, from earthquake victims in Nepal to those in war-torn Yemen. MasterCard, which charges the charities fees for the service, says the program is profitable. The United Nations also recently named MasterCard the leader of an initiative to improve the distribution of humanitarian aid in emergencies, with a focus on the data management and privacy aspect.

    8. United Technologies

    Courtesy of United Technologies Corporation — Pratt & Whitney Division.
    Rethinking jet engines to make commercial aviation less of a threat to the climate (and the human respiratory system).

    With the skies becoming ever more crowded, scientists have increasingly focused on the environmental damage that commercial jetliners produce. Indeed, a 2010 MIT study estimated that aircraft emissions, including tiny particles that cause lung and heart disease, kill about 10,000 people a year—more than 10 times as many as airplane crashes. While commercial aviation generates only about 2% of global carbon emissions, scientists believe they have an outsized impact on climate change because they’re released in the upper atmosphere. That problem will only get worse with a projected 77% increase in the number of commercial aircraft by 2030, to 46,000.

    United Technologies, through its Pratt & Whitney division, this year introduced a new commercial jet engine that provides relief on multiple fronts. Compared to the company’s own traditional engine, it cuts fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions by 16%, slashes the release of particulates in half, and dramatically muffles engine roar. For each plane, that means 3,600 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide generated annually, $1 million in annual savings on fuel, and 500,000 fewer airport neighbors who will hear each takeoff.

    The new engine is called a geared turbofan, for the addition of an internal gearbox that allows the fan blades and the turbine that spins them to rotate at different, optimal speeds. UTC says it spent 20 years and $10 billion developing the technology for commercial aircraft. The engines are already in use on mid-sized, single-aisle jets in Europe and Asia. UTC says it has received orders to equip 4,100 planes, from 70 customers in more than 30 countries. A GE partnership has developed a comparably efficient conventional engine, called the Leap. But future iterations of UTC’s geared turbofan engine are expected to generate considerably greater savings: for the planet and airlines, as well our lungs and ears. Indeed, UTC has already promised a modest upgrade for 2021—and other manufacturers (including Rolls Royce) are reportedly researching geared-turbofan engines themselves. “It’s a significant breakthrough,” says Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the Teal Group. “In many ways, it is the future.”

    9. Novozymes

    Fabrizio Giraldi
    Finding microbes that make products more eco-friendly.

    If enzymes are nature’s secret sauce for managing our world’s resources better, consider Denmark’s Novozymes as the earth’s indispensable laboratory. The biotechnology company isolates and produces enzymes and microorganisms that help industries make their products more eco-friendly, with examples ranging from efficient detergents to enhanced animal feed. Novozymes has helped customers save 60 million tons of CO2 emissions, and improve their water efficiency by 9% and energy efficiency by 15%. The company has also partnered withMonsanto to perform test-trials on how to improve agricultural output, and next year, will start selling corn and soybean seeds coated with microbes that could increase the average yield of crops by 3%.

    “We look at sustainability and profits as one conjunction,” said CEO Peder Holk Nielsen, the company’s outspoken leader who believes his company’s mission could help reduce world hunger and carbon emissions, both integral parts of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals. “Our task is to always try to do more with less.”

    10. First Solar

    Courtesy of First Solar
    Its panels are making solar energy cost competitive.

    For almost two decades, First Solar has grown into the world’s largest manufacturer of “thin-film” solar panels. Its factories churn out panels at a rate of roughly one per second, and to date it has sold enough 13.5 gigawatts worth, enough to power more than 2 million American homes. Thanks to the company’s R&D efforts, First Solar’s large-scale farms can deliver energy to utilities at record-low prices—low enough to beat out power from dirty fossil fuels. That’s a crucial milestone for those who hope to see the world transition to cleaner energy.

These 10 Companies Are Changing the World

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