Every year, the World Economic Forum recognises a group of companies whose innovations have the power to change industries and societies. Here is a full list of the Technology Pioneers of 2015.
Life Sciences & Health
- Guardant Health – Guardant Health is a diagnostics company focused on changing the way cancer is managed. The company’s proprietary technology enables comprehensive real-time monitoring of cancer through a simple blood test. Current treatment often requires biopsies, which are risky and costly and consequently cannot be used to capture genetic changes that typically lead to treatment failure. Guardant Health’s technology enables physicians to see these genetic changes in real time and treat them with the appropriate therapies.
- Health Catalyst – Health Catalyst’s data warehousing and clinical analytics products help health systems use their information to improve the quality and efficiency of care and reduce costs. The company’s data warehousing architecture uses a just-in-time approach to data binding to resolve many of the problems encountered in traditional solutions. The Health Catalyst data warehouse combines that architecture with a set of analytics applications to generate new insights that multidisciplinary teams can use to make and maintain process changes.
- Labcyte – Liquid handling is a critical area in life science discovery, research and development. Labcyte’s systems use sound energy to transfer liquids with extreme precision and accuracy in billionth-of-a-litre increments, eliminating the significant issues of traditional methods using pipette tips. This makes it easier for Labcyte’s customers to discover new therapeutics, improve diagnostics and target prescriptions of medicines for patient-specific treatments.
- Organovo – Organovo’s 3D bioprinting technology is changing medical research and practice by creating novel therapeutic tissues and providing better drug development models. Many diseases lack effective treatments, and over 70% of drugs fail late in clinical trials due to toxicity or efficacy. Organovo’s 3D bioprinter provides a way to design and create functional human tissues that more accurately reproduce native biology to create novel therapies and enable safer, more effective drugs.
- Vaxxas – Vaxxas’s vaccine delivery system enhances the performance of existing and next-generation vaccines. It has a number of advantages over needle injections: application to the skin is pain-free and has been shown in preclinical studies to result in a protective immunogenic response, using as little as one-hundredth of the dose required by conventional needle and syringe.
Energy & Clean Tech
- AutoGrid Systems – AutoGrid Systems transforms data into the cleanest, cheapest source of power. The company’s Energy Data Platform (EDP) gives utilities, businesses, communities and individuals the ability to fine-tune power consumption and costs with big data and cloud-based software. By optimizing how the world uses power, AutoGrid reduces emissions, makes it possible to integrate greater amounts of solar and wind power onto the grid, lowers the risk of outages and brings the benefits of electricity to more people.
- Cambrian Innovation – Cambrian Innovation uses bioelectric technology to cost-effectively clean wastewater and generate significant clean energy. The company’s flagship product is deployed at industrial facilities to reduce biological oxygen demand while generating the facilities’ electricity needs. Treated water can later be reused on site, reducing freshwater requirements and enabling water-intensive businesses to grow.
- Genomatica – Genomatica develops manufacturing processes that enable firms to produce the world’s most widely used chemicals in a “better” way with better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based processes. The company’s processes are designed to convert a range of alternative feedstocks into numerous target chemicals that meet industry specifications for large and established markets. Chemicals produced using Genomatica’s manufacturing processes can be used the exact same way to make downstream materials and products such as petro-chemicals, simplifying and accelerating adoption.
- Mera Gao Micro Grid Power – Mera Gao Micro Grid Power operates low-cost micro grids that provide energy to India’s off-grid poor. The company’s village-level lighting facilities generate electricity through centrally located solar panels, store the generated electricity in batteries and distribute it across the village to power LED lights and mobile phone chargers in customer households. Mera Gao’s facilities offer its customers lower-cost and higher-quality lighting than kerosene, the primary source of night-time lighting for India’s off-grid households.
- Proterra – Proterra designs and manufactures heavy-duty drive and energy storage systems, vehicle control systems and complete transit buses. The company’s zero-emission transit vehicles enable bus fleet operators to reduce operating costs while delivering clean, quiet power to the community. The product combines the benefits of sustainability with the lowest total cost of ownership.
Digital Networks & Computing
- Canonical Group – Canonical is the company behind the Ubuntu operating system and the leading provider of services for Ubuntu deployments in the enterprise, original equipment manufacturer and telecommunications sectors. Launched in 2004, Ubuntu is an open-source platform for client, server and cloud computing, including mobile devices and smartphones. Users range from Fortune 500 companies to hardware makers, content providers, software developers and individuals.
- Couchbase – The Couchbase open-source project is a community of developers and users of Couchbase document-oriented database technology. The company provides a complete, scalable and performing general-purpose NoSQL database including a shared nothing architecture, a single node-type, a built-in caching layer, true auto-sharding and the world’s first NoSQL mobile offering.
- Ionic Security – Ionic Security brings trust to distributed computing by providing individuals and organizations with native control over the circulation of their personal data in contextually relevant ways. With an approach that is agnostic to the device, network connection or application, Ionic Security aims to solve the data security problems at the intersection of cloud, mobility and analytics. In the cloud, in an organization’s data centre or on mobile devices, Ionic provides a common and independent control plane of data in the wild.
- LearnUp – LearnUp is addressing the skills gap by empowering entry-level jobseekers to learn the skills needed to get hired. The company develops online training in partnership with employers that enables jobseekers to practice real-life situations of a particular job. By completing the training before they interview, jobseekers are prepared for the job and increase their chances of getting hired. LearnUp is building the education-to-employment pathway for those looking for work, while helping employers hire qualified talent.
- Raspberry Pi Foundation – The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based not-for-profit, whose flagship product is a low-cost, Linux-based microcomputer intended for use in education. Using mobile-phone technology to build a general-purpose computer makes hardware more affordable for educational, embedded and developing world markets. The Foundation is part of a broad coalition of organizations working to increase participation in computing education around the world.
- Newlight Technologies – Newlight Technologies has developed a carbon-capture and plastics manufacturing technology, converting air and greenhouse gas into plastics that can out-compete oil-based plastics on price and performance. The company’s product is being used to replace oil-based plastics at commercial scale in a wide range of market segments. Newlight’s technology shows how market-driven solutions can help to counter climate change.
- Silicor Materials – Silicor Materials has developed a new, more environmentally friendly method of manufacturing solar silicon for photovoltaic cell and module producers. It costs roughly half of what traditional electronic-grade silicon costs to produce, requires up to two-thirds less energy than competing methods, uses no hazardous chemicals and achieves comparable efficiencies.
- Avegant Corporation – Avegant produces the Avegant Glyph, a smart headphone integrating premium audio with virtual retinal display (VRD) technologies and physiological sensors. VRD mimics the way humans naturally see light, and projecting images directly onto the user’s retina makes them more lifelike and vivid. Future possible applications include accessibility features for the functionally blind.
- HiBot Corporation – HiBot develops robotics that enable dangerous jobs to be performed in a safer and more reliable way, with a level of automation that allows robots to work remotely in complex environments while keeping the human operator in the loop. An example is the use of snake robot technology in applications ranging from inspection of pipes to intervention in nuclear power plants.
Connectivity & Smart Infrastructure
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar connects people who need to travel long distances to drivers who have empty seats, so they can share the costs of a journey and make travel more social. The website and free mobile app allow drivers to publish a planned journey, and passengers to search and book a ride. The company provides a range of features to create a secure, trust-based community. Over a million people a month use BlaBlaCar to share long journeys.
- Eta Devices – Eta Devices’ technology allows the mobile communications industry to reduce its power consumption. In base stations, the company’s technology leads to reduced power and space requirements, and allows the use of renewable energy to provide telecommunication services in off-grid regions. For handsets, battery life is considerably increased and multiband communications can be enabled at a fraction of the cost and footprint. As a consequence, consumers get smartphones with a considerably longer battery life.
- Jasper Technologies – Jasper’s cloud software platform enables enterprises to quickly launch, manage and monetize Internet of Things (IoT) service businesses on a global scale. It automates delivery and management of mobile services to connected devices for over 1,000 enterprises on six continents. The platform delivers visibility, real-time control and IoT capabilities such as mobile service management, real-time engagement, support diagnostics, billing and business automation.
- Kakao – Kakao is the provider of KakaoTalk, a popular global messaging application and mobile social platform. Through its expansion into services ranging from social media to commerce, marketing and gaming, KakaoTalk is building a mobile ecosystem that fosters growth for business partners, developers and content creators while enriching users’ mobile lives.
- SmartThings – SmartThings is building an open platform for the Internet of Things. It supports an open and growing ecosystem of inventors and developers producing new types of connected devices and apps that change how everyday objects work. SmartThings enables consumers to install connected devices and control them through a mobile app that makes their homes smarter, more reactive and more enjoyable and gives homeowners peace of mind.
Author: Fulvia Montresor is Director, Head of Technology Pioneers for the World Economic Forum
Image: A worker solders a circuit board at the manufacturing facility of VAS, an Electronics manufacturer in San Diego, California. REUTERS/Mike Blake