Introducing Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas honorees for 2021

For 5 years, Fast Firm’s World Changing Ideas Awards have acknowledged corporations and organizations addressing the world’s most intractable issues via know-how, science, design, finance, training, and philanthropy. Our WCI protection is an annual celebration of human ingenuity and keenness, one in every of our most optimistic options yearly. So it appears becoming that we announce a brand new class of honorees simply as we start to get well, slowly however steadily, from the ravages of COVID-19, a well being disaster that has to date killed greater than 3 million folks worldwide, pressured the closure of numerous companies, uncovered the inabilities of many governments to guard their residents, and revealed basic inequities throughout societies.

Within the absence of a daring and united authorities response, we noticed corporations and organizations mobilize to fabricate masks and ventilators, and to distribute private protecting gear to important staff and meals to hungry households. At this time, as we announce a brand new class of World Changing Ideas winners, we’re undoubtedly at an inflection level: The U.S. is now vaccinating roughly 3 million folks on daily basis, and greater than half a billion folks have been vaccinated throughout the globe (although distribution has been removed from equitable). Deaths and hospitalizations are declining world wide: The vaccines, developed in report time on a number of continents because of breakthrough applied sciences, are proving more practical than anybody dared hope.

The distinction we’ve watched play out in the course of the pandemic—a lethal disaster introduced on by human failure versus the superb energy of human ingenuity to right course—presents hope for different grave challenges the worldwide group faces. Billions of individuals world wide nonetheless dwell in poverty and starvation; in accordance with a report from the RAND Corp., $50 trillion price of American wealth has shifted from the underside 90% to the highest 1% since 1975. The Earth is warming at an growing fee, resulting in new climate patterns which might be creating superstorms, which wreak havoc season after season. The latest blizzard that knocked out energy for hundreds of thousands of Texans, inflicting dozens of individuals to freeze to loss of life in their very own properties, is simply the most recent instance.

Innovators proceed to work feverishly on options to those issues and so many others. Breakthroughs are taking place on a regular basis: The costs of each photo voltaic power and batteries have dropped 89% previously decade. A nationwide protest motion this previous 12 months shifted the dialog on race on this nation. We simply landed a rover on Mars.

The businesses and organizations we honor with our World Changing Ideas Awards exemplify the human means to unravel issues. Along with our standard standards, we requested entrants to inform us particularly concerning the work that they had finished in response to the pandemic—whether or not in healthcare or in serving to to feed and dress folks in want. The scope of the solutions we obtained was inspiring: biotech corporations scrambling to make testing obtainable, corporations retrofitting their factories to provide masks and ventilators, folks iterating to create even higher masks, and communities coming collectively to help each important staff and those that had misplaced their livelihoods from shutdowns.

In the meantime, corporations and organizations additionally one way or the other pushed forward with their far-reaching improvements: know-how that converts carbon emissions into jet gas and even vodka; an app that lets healthcare staff weigh infants simply by taking photographs of them; a system that recycles used garments into new clothes.

We’re amazed by these achievements. But with each freakish storm and COVID-19 loss of life, we’re reminded of the immense challenges that stay—so lots of them attributable to human failure. We should proceed to demand ingenuity and progress if we need to have any hope of contending with crises just like the one which outlined this previous 12 months. We should double down on these efforts as if our lives relied on it, as a result of they do.