Social Innovation

The winners of the New Champions Awards 2022 are changing the world — here’s how

The New Champions Awards 2022.

The New Champions Awards 2022 recognise the most exciting mid-sized businesses making positive change in the world. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Julia Devos
Head of Business, Growth and Operations; Head of New Champions, World Economic Forum
Roberta Alimonda
New Champions Lead, World Economic Forum
Srivani Kanthi Chatti
Growth Strategy & Business Development Lead, World Economic Forum
Chris Hamill-Stewart
Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Every year, the World Economic Forum's New Champions network selects winners from this cohort of over 100 businesses as the most innovative and exciting mid-sized businesses.
  • This year's winners are pioneering single-use medical devices, innovative education and a whole new approach to food security.
  • They are recognised for their scalability, originality and impact on the lives of people the world over.

Climate change, geopolitical crises and growing inequity are pushing the world toward an inflection point — but for every challenge we face, so too do we have innovators and thinkers of all kinds stepping up to the plate to meet them.

Despite the difficulties of the past year, solutions-oriented members of the private sector have continually demonstrated that they are capable of not just mitigating economic and social harm, but actually improving the world we live in and life for people everywhere.

Among this broad category huge and established businesses soak up much of the attention, while hot new start-ups with big ideas draw exciting headlines — it is often the mid-sized businesses that go unnoticed, as they scale their solutions from exciting new technologies or ideas into proven and stable businesses.

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The World Economic Forum’s New Champions community has set out to shine the spotlight on these innovators, many of whom are addressing global inequity, improving sustainability and furthering inclusion in real-time.

Hailing from 45 countries, the roughly 120 members of the New Champions community are dynamic, high-growth mid-sized companies that make a difference in the world.

And every year, the Forum recognises the best from this cohort at the New Champions Awards. This year’s categories focused on sustainable growth, societal impact and adaptive capacity in the face of difficult times. They were selected on the basis of their originality, impact and scale.

The New Champions Awards 2022 winners

Excellence in Sustainable Growth — Xenco Medical

San Diego-based medical technology company Xenco Medical has demonstrated the ability to generate lasting financial strength driven through its innovative business model, much of which focuses on the delivery of single-use polymer surgical systems.

With a focus on spinal surgery, these tools replace traditional systems used in surgery — which come with risks of infection and mechanical failure — and can be deployed quickly and cost-effectively compared with traditional systems.

On average, use of these single-use systems saves American hospitals $900-$1,100 per surgery and as much as three-and-a-half hours of sterilisation and processing required to re-use spinal surgery equipment.

But not only is the product innovative — the way it’s delivered is, too.

Xenco Medical, under the leadership of Jason Haider, has pioneered the medical vending machine approach. Imagine a vending machine, but for single-use surgical equipment. This allows Xenco nationwide oversight of the usage of its systems, and provides a data pool from which it can derive insights and analytics.

This innovative approach to not only helping hospitals and patients, but re-thinking the medical device business model, has earned it its status as the winner of the Forum’s New Champions award for Excellence in Sustainable Growth.

Excellence in Societal Impact — Blendhub

If 2022 has demonstrated anything, it’s that the global food system is broken and in desperate need of innovation.

Blendhub, winner of the New Champions Excellence in Societal Impact award, is implementing a network of multilocalised food production hubs that are closer to raw materials and final consumers — all of it powered by technology and amounting to a food-as-a-service business model.

Using 40-foot containers, Blendhub brings food production to the areas that need it through portable food factories. These production hubs can be deployed anywhere in the world within six months, and are already working in India, Mexico, Spain, Colombia and Thailand.

These hubs cut can reduce the cost of any powder-based food recipe by 20-50% through improved logistics: lower storage costs, lower transportation costs and less need for international middlemen taking a cut. All this means lower food prices for the hubs’ beneficiaries and improved food security.

Local farmers, small entrepreneurs and local humanitarian workers are already benefitting from these hubs and the supply chain they unlock, providing healthy and affordable food products. That’s why Henrik Stamm Kristensen’s Blendhub was selected as this year’s Societal Impact winner.

Excellence in Adaptive Capacity - Honoris Holdings

Honoris United Universities, the first and largest network of private higher education institutions in Africa, is a unique educational platform committed to delivering education that sets students up for a lifetime of success.

Honoris earned its award for Adaptive Capacity for its world-beating work in focusing on education that delivers positive outcomes. It uses augmented and virtual reality to teach students, and is in the midst of a digital transformation that is ensuring it stays ahead of the curve in terms of digital technology and education — and that also ensured that when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, its students’ education was uninterrupted.

More than 770,000 people across Africa have either graduated from or are currently enrolled in Honoris’ classes, and a series of high-profile partnerships with the EdTech world’s leaders, for example, to deliver medical education to future healthcare professionals, are opening up new opportunities for Honoris across Africa.

By 2027, it aims to have taught 1.7 million people — in the face of years of disruption, it is that achievement that has earned Honoris, under the leadership of Jonathan Louw the New Champions’ Excellence in Adaptive Capacity award.

Join the New Champions

The goal of the New Champions community is to share and learn from best practices, proven innovations and support new partnerships for the common good. All of this year’s winners will have the opportunity to share their experiences as part of the New Champions network, and will be invited to join the New Champions Advisory Board for the 2023-2025 term. The annual programme focuses on impact-driven peer-to-peer exchanges, thematic engagement tracks and networking circles.

To learn about the application process and check whether your business is eligible to join the New Champions network, contact us here.

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