세상을 바꿀 20대 신기술 기업
(20 Firms that want to change the world )
By Alexandra Whittington - Foresight Researcher Fast Future
There's a growing trend towards firms - and particularly start-ups - that want to apply a Silicon Valley mentality and 'exponential thinking' to tackling the world's biggest problems around food, education, housing and beyond. Can business truly fulfill this bold mission and take on challenges that experts have struggled with for so long, or is it over-stepping the mark in an insensitive and naive manner?
More than one Silicon Valley observer has noted that the tech startup obsession with “making the world a better place” has resulted in misguided and even antagonistic business ideas. Overuse of the term “disruptive” has furthermore lent to critique of startup culture such as this WSJ piece on the Four Myths of Disruption.
On the other hand, pressing challenges on a global scale have attracted some of the best and the brightest entrepreneurial minds to try and create viable commercial solutions to persistent problems. The growth of entrepreneurship in areas such as health, education and meeting basic needs, for example, raises the question: “Can the Private Sector Replace NGOs in the Developing World?” Whether these enterprises will upgrade, disturb or disrupt is a matter of opinion, but here’s a look at 20 such companies trying to change the world, and how we might expect them to shape the future.
1. Andela (Geographic Focus: Africa) Andela seeks to empower people by teaching them to code. Their focus is empowerment in African countries where traditional educational opportunities are weak, offering a program that avoids student debt. Graduates are connected with jobs as developers and IT workers.
2. Oculus VR (Menlo Park, California USA) The Oculus VR virtual reality headset is high on the list of products that some believe could change the world. The technology is enabling ever more immersive 3D experiences that could have an impact across numerous business and consumer activities including healthcare, gaming, education, and entertainment. The headset is expected to be paired with games initially before moving into other areas as popularity grows.
3. Magic Leap (Dania Beach, Florida USA) Like Oculus, Magic Leap cat rs to gaming, learning, creativity and entertainment needs. Using innovations with lighting and effects, Magic Leap aims to create "cinematic reality" using head-mounted devices which superimpose 3D computer generated imagery over real world objects. A core innovation is the use of a 'digital light field' to project directly into user's eye - thus making numerous forms of computer generated experience feel more life like.
4. Exit Round (San Francisco, California USA) Exit Round is the Match.com of startups, that is aiming to democratize the early stage funding process, using an anonymous marketplace for pairing compatible buyers with sellers of technology companies. The service eliminates the need for new entrants to have existing connections with potential funders, and instead uses an algorithm to match investors to innovators.
5. Proteus Digital Health (Redwood City, California USA) Proteus' ingestible sensors embedded in pills allow real-time patient monitoring by health professionals. Being piloted in the US and Europe, the tiny “chip” on a pill landing in the stomach will send radio waves to a smartphone and transfers the data into the cloud. This could facilitate a transformation of healthcare provision in remote areas which lack traditional medical resources.
6. Coinbase (San Francisco, California USA) Are Bitcoin wallets the accessory of the post-banking future? This early contender for the potentially lucrative Bitcoin demographic will provide secure financial transactions and storage of the digital currency.
7. Calico (San Francisco, California USA) Calico is the new Google partnership with AbbVie pharmaceuticals to address longevity. New treatments for cancer and neurodegeneration are on the Calico (aka, California Life Company) agenda to 'solve aging'.
8. Skybox (Mountain View, California USA) Providing satellite imagery and analytics, Skybox seeks "To index the earth the way Google indexes the Internet." Uses include agricultural management and emergency services such as search and rescue. GPS World reports: “Google acquired Skybox Imaging in August of 2014 to develop advanced GPS mapping using its own network of satellites.”
9. PK Clean (Salt Lake City, Utah USA) PK Clean has a vision to eliminate landfills, starting by taking plastic and turning it into fuel. Bringing 'net zero thinking' to the entire planet is a lofty goal that PK Clean plans to implement by building recycling plants that it can sell to other waste managers. The focus on plastics tackles a major source of non-biodegradable waste by transforming it into a valuable energy source. The company is now working with a large recycler, Rocky Mountain Recycling to capture and recycle the plastic waste in Colorado USA.
10. Artemis Networks (San Francisco, California USA) The Artemis tagline is “Wireless Reinvented,” a promise to upgrade the mobile experience for people across the planet in almost every way but mostly with low-cost quick and reliable immediate access to wifi. Essentially an antenna, the Artemis pWave product transmits a unique signal, supplying each user with a personal network. Inc. Magazine suggests “it could potentially lead to a new generation of cheap smartphones,” and Artemis own PR emphasizes the potential to deliver low-cost wireless service.
11. The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Geographic Focus: Latin America) The CGE nonprofit organization plans to create 100 enterprises around the world before 2020 to become the world’s largest employer. With the goal of creating companies that provide jobs in developing countries, this social enterprise takes the shape of a public-private hybrid. CGE represents the evolution from straight charity-based relief to a more free-market oriented solution. At the heart of the model is the idea of incorporating individuals from marginalized communities into one of three market driven models – Distribution Enterprises, Supply Chain Enterprises, and Training Center Enterprises.
12. Ambri (Cambridge, Massachusetts USA) Developed in an MIT lab, this new battery could make renewable energy practical and affordable for the mass market. Using plentiful and cost-effective materials, Ambri claims its batteries can withstand years of use - offering nearly 100% of capacity after 10 years of operation. Reducing battery consumption and replacement is important both for developing market technologies and the longevity of the mobile society.
13. Factual (Los Angeles, California USA) Factual wants to be the know-it-all of the world's information, to the point where "There will be so many mistakes that the next generation no longer makes and won't be able to fathom how people once did," according to Founder and CEO Gil Elbaz. Bringing accuracy to the ocean of data provides a key service: what good is so much information unless it’s correct? Factual provides its data to companies such as Bing, Yelp, and Groupon but sliding-scale fees lower the barriers for SMEs to harness the powerful data.
14. HelpAround (Wilmington, Delaware USA) Research shows one in 10 of the world's population will have diabetes by 2035. HelpAround’s mobile app connects diabetics in their local community, or traveling worldwide, when in need of supplies or assistance. The app also provides online support groups, with plans to branch out into other chronic diseases and food allergies.
15. uBiome (San Francisco, California USA)
While it was once trendy to obtain one’s personalized DNA profile, the more cutting-edge science of the self is the microbiome, or the microscopic ecosystem of the human body. A startup called uBiome is exploring this emerging field of biology while providing a service that is part lifestyle, part health, part scientist. Customers purchase a kit to send in different types of biological samples for an analysis of their personal microbiome. The user website is where their personal data can be crunched in meaningful ways, i.e. against various indicators of fitness, health, even mental and emotional issues. They even promise that customers can design their own experiments….the slogan says it all: “Love your bacteria!”
16. Expect Labs (San Francisco, California USA) Using what it claims to be advanced, deep learning, 'human quality' speech recognition, Expect Labs' Mindmeld provides intelligent voice interfaces for any app, device, or website.
17. Open Whisper Systems (Geographic Focus: Cyberspace) Not a company exactly but a hacker collective, Open Whisper is providing mobile phone encryption apps to protect personal data like phone calls and texts from government surveillance by keeping it out of the hands of Silicon Valley. The app called Signals is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
18. Valor Water Analytics (San Francisco, California USA) Valor Analytics aims to help improve natural resource conservation and efficiency while capturing lost income for utility companies. By helping to eliminate waste and identify use patterns, Valor seeks to offer a comprehensive approach to water conservation that ends in “win-wins” for communities and consumers.
19. E.On (Düsseldorf, Germany)
Germany's top utility E.On will split in two, spinning off power plants to focus on renewable energy and power grids, a move that might encourage similar shifts across Europe. This step is seen as a confirmation of Germany's move away from fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and could inspire more big players in the clean energy domain.
20. Vestergaard (Lausanne, Switzerland) Can development be a profitable service? That’s the question Vestergaard poses to the private sector. As the largest producer of durable bed nets (which have contributed to the reduction in deaths from malaria by more than one third) and responsible for award-winning LifeStraw® water filter, Vestergaard aims to build a a program of developing world solutions that tangibly contribute to making the world a better place.
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