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These winners of the New Champions Awards 2023 are focused on building a better global future

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This year's New Champions Awards celebrate companies across three categories: transformation, impact and innovation.

This year's New Champions Awards celebrate companies across three categories: transformation, impact and innovation. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Julia Devos
Head, New Champions Community, World Economic Forum
Srivani Kanthi Chatti
Growth Strategy & Business Development Lead, World Economic Forum
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  • The New Champions Community was created to equip mid-sized purpose-driven companies for the future.
  • This year's New Champions Awards celebrate companies across three categories: transformation, impact and innovation.
  • Using strategic awareness, early warning systems, agility, business development and ecosystem mobilization, the 2023 New Champions Award winners are integrating future-ready mechanisms.

2023 was the year of 'polycrisis,' where global risks were more interdependent and reciprocally damaging than ever. We saw a return of 'older' risks – inflation, cost-of-living crises, trade wars, widespread social unrest and geopolitical confrontation, among others outlined in the Global Risks Report 2023.

How can companies adapt to these challenges as they converge to shape a unique, uncertain and turbulent decade to come? The World Economic Forum’s New Champions Community stands at the forefront of equipping mid-sized companies for the future. The roughly 100+ member-strong community, from across 45 countries, represents dynamic, high-growth systems that strive to make a difference in the world. We truly believe that the way forward is through purposeful business, where individuals commit to aligning their business with the well-being of society and the environment. New Champions share the same beliefs and play a crucial role in promoting the welfare of both society and the environment.

These purpose-driven companies recognise the imperative of transformation, as echoed in the findings of PwC's Global CEO Survey, which discloses that 40% of CEOs apprehend economic obsolescence for their companies within a decade unless they undergo reinvention.

Discover

How does the World Economic Forum help mid-sized businesses broaden their social impact?

The 2023 New Champions Awards seeks to recognise the noteworthy achievements of these members in integrating future-ready mechanisms - through strategic awareness, early warning systems, agility, future investments, new business development and ecosystem mobilization. Held in partnership with EDHEC Business School, the awards identify three winners and three honourable mentions across our transformation, impact and innovation categories, who also receive the additional distinction of being placed on our advisory board.

Edhec Professor Rohrbeck, who supervised the awards, posed some crucial questions to the participants: What are the trends that are critical for the success of my company? Are we leading the change or following it? Do we have a future-oriented nervous system? Through self-reflection, their strategic foresight capabilities were evaluated against the overall organizational orientation and the uncertainty in its environment.

The analysis, which suggests the New Champions members generally surpass the average preparedness level of all organizations, also sheds light on areas of improvement. Scenario planning, for example, is a capability that can help more organizations forge robust strategies and prepare for potential pilots. To support this, the World Economic Forum will launch the Global Strategic Foresight Network in 2024. This initiative will focus on developing personal skills and organizational strategic foresight capabilities. Here are the winners and the honourable mentions of the 2023 New Champions Awards:

Winners

Impact: Moritz Lehmkuhl, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Climate Partner

Moritz Lehmkuhl, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Climate Partner
Moritz Lehmkuhl, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Climate Partner

Climate Partner exists to secure a liveable planet by making net zero a reality. We do this by supporting companies of all sizes to take ambitious climate action. To achieve this, we invest heavily in software development to allow us to measure and set targets and help reduce carbon emissions at scale and we work with climate experts who consult companies on their decarbonization journey.

Additionally, we are driving project development with multi-million-euro investments into nature-based and social-impact climate projects as an important contribution to climate action. This will enable the reduction and removal of hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon emissions over the next few decades, helping to regenerate natural landscapes, improve biodiversity and impact local communities worldwide.

Our approach, which centres around building trust through transparency and ensuring integrity, should sit at the heart of the voluntary carbon market for years to come.

Transformation: Surendra Patawari, Chairman and Founder, Gemini Corporation

Surendra Patawari, Chairman and Founder, Gemini Corporation
Surendra Patawari, Chairman and Founder, Gemini Corporation

Gemini Corporation has collected, sorted, recycled and converted millions of tonnes of waste for the past 35 years. To be future-ready, we are now focusing on developing infrastructure in emerging economies and establishing formal waste value chains aligned with European best practices.

Our Indian subsidiary, GemCorp Recycling, uplifts less advantaged waste pickers and provides them with social security and dignified wages. Gemini's impact extends to hygiene, sanitation and health measures, including safe drinking water and a focus on eliminating child labour.

Our collaborative efforts involve distributing free baling machines, benefiting over 1,000 small-business families. This promotes social welfare and delivers significant environmental benefits by turning unregulated waste into a valuable feedstock. With four operational plants in India and plans for more, Gemini ensures end-to-end traceability via a blockchain-based platform.

This successful venture, growing to a $100 million topline in four years, aims for a tenfold expansion in the next decade, replicating its model across the Global South.

Innovation: Frank Lee, Co-founder, Director and VP of Foherb Group

Frank Lee, Co-founder, Director and VP of Foherb Group
Frank Lee, Co-founder, Director and VP of Foherb Group

As a global direct-selling healthcare enterprise, in the face of the challenges brought by changes in the geopolitical pattern and the global economic downturn, FOHERB GROUP responds to the following breakthroughs with an innovative, inclusive and enterprising attitude to investment.

In the next three years, we plan to invest $1 million in the 'World Health Economic Development Alliance' to unite and gather the strength of global industry development, focusing on South Asia, South America and Eastern Europe to achieve market expansion.

We also plan to invest $1.5 million in research and development and technology transfer to develop health devices and innovative beauty care products.

And, we plan to invest $2 million to strengthen the construction of digital platforms and create new models and experiences for research and development, manufacturing and customer service through cloud computing and AI.

Honourable Mention

Impact: Stephen Bailey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ExecOnline

Stephen Bailey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, EXEC ONLINE
Stephen Bailey, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, EXEC ONLINE

Since disrupting the status quo over a decade ago by bringing leadership development online, ExecOnline has incorporated 'Be Bold' into the foundation of our culture. It continues as one of our corporate values, guiding us to achieve our mission of connecting all leaders to their future potential. By democratizing learning and coaching, we are diversifying leadership and transforming leaders’ behaviour to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. No one knows what the future holds except this: an acceleration of already unprecedented change.

We are watching leaders whose skills are tested by that change respond with intention, but not always effective implementation. They must be prepared to be bold to have a meaningful impact on their teams, their organization and society. Through our own internal focus on professional development, innovation and diverse thinking we are modelling the world we want and galvanizing the evolution in leadership it will take to achieve it.

Transformation: Ulrik Smith, Co-Managing Partner, FSN Capital Partners, Norway

Ulrik Smith, Co-Managing Partner, FSN Capital Partners, Norway
Ulrik Smith, Co-Managing Partner, FSN Capital Partners, Norway

Since its inception in 1999, FSN Capital has been an industry leader in responsible ownership.

Our ethos, 'we are decent people making a decent return in a decent way' propels us towards the future and our purpose: to create welfare for everyday people, our ultimate clients, in a responsible manner. Anticipating the future, we consider two megatrends: sustainability and digitization.

As one of the first private equity firms to have science-based targets approved, we are committed to the green transition. We have built a robust decarbonization team to drive returns to our clients in a sustainable manner. We have put together a team of data scientists to digitize our firm and our 30 portfolio companies. We are convinced that diversity drives returns and actively promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do.

Innovation: Dr. Marcel Schaefer, CTO, Precitec

 Dr. Marcel Schaefer, CTO, Precitec
Dr. Marcel Schaefer, CTO, Precitec

Precitec provides trendsetting solutions in laser cutting, laser welding and metrology, annually refining its strategy through a comprehensive top-down and bottom-up approach. Strategic goals are set in a cross-functional meeting, aligning with industry trends and potential disruptions. The organizational structure is then adapted for increased efficiency, innovation and sustainability.

Sales are structured into business units focusing on specific industries and development activities are organized into Topic Expert Groups to address challenges and anticipate future applications. This structure enables engineers to learn and innovate, providing insights for product managers to align market needs with R&D solutions.

The R&D team follows a dedicated technology process, continuously updating the technology funnel to match strategic search fields and identify important topics. Business units' market pulls and R&D's technology push inform updates to product and technology roadmaps, ensuring continual evolution. We initiate the next cycle by integrating the insights in the annual meeting, refining strategy and shaping the next steps.

Join the New Champions

All of these winners will have the opportunity to be a part of the New Champions Advisory Board for the 2024-2025 term and to shape the strategic direction of the annual programme that focuses on impact-driven peer-to-peer exchanges, leadership gatherings and networking circles. The goal of the community is to share and learn from proven innovations and support new partnerships for the common good.

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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