One company has invented a way to literally pull fresh water out of thin air (Zero Mass Water, with backing from the Gates Foundation), while another has created “the world’s first robot lawyer” to help people beat parking tickets (DoNotPay). All 10 of this year’s social good finalists are worthy of Most Innovative Company recognition.
For incentivizing giving
Since its 2012 launch, the for-profit Omaze has raised more than $130 million for more than 350 charities via a global sweepstakes platform offering rare experiences (lunch with Amal and George Clooney in Lake Como) and prizes (a Lamborghini signed by the Pope). The company takes a percentage of overall sweepstakes donations, generating $45 million in revenue last year.
Read more about why Omaze is one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.
For liquidating $30 million in medical debt
This year, the company made a huge philanthropic donation, but instead of giving to an organization, it simply paid off a huge tranche of $30 million in medical debt. It’s a new way of thinking about giving and corporate social responsibility, and what ways a company can create the most impact with its donations.
3. Code For America
For automating marijuana possession expungement paperwork
As marijuana is legalized, states are offering programs to expunge the records of people who were convicted of possession before legalization. But it often requires complicated paperwork. Code For America has automated that process in California, resulting in prosecutors in five California counties dismissing or reducing approximately 75,000 convictions. They’re now moving on to Chicago.
4. Zero Mass Water
For pulling clean water from the air
By sucking moisture out of the air, this company generates clean water anywhere. They have gotten investment from Gates’s Breakthrough Fund, and the tech is deployed around the world, including at a hospital in Jamaica and in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
5. Planned Parenthood
For building a sex-ed chatbot
Roo, the org’s chatbot, is offering people helpful sex ed and family planning advice while avoiding potentially awkward conversations with an actual person. It currently has a 80% accuracy rate on its answers.
For giving users ownership shares for their DNA data in exchange for conducting research
Instead of giving away your DNA data, you can share your data with the LunaDNA platform, which democratizes genetic testing and medical research. If data is used by commercial entity, value is shared back to the user as dividends.
7. Do Not Pay
For beating $15 million in parking ticket fines
Calling itself “the world’s first robot lawyer,” DoNotPay has used automation tech to fill out the paperwork to get people out of 250,000 parking tickets and saved people over $15 million fees. Because the wealthy often fight their tickets and the poor don’t, the company is helping to close an unfair gap in how people are policed. This year, they also started offering a credit card that automatically cancels your free trials, another attempt to automate money saving tech.
For going with the (low) flow
The innovation story behind the actual construction of these low-water showers is impressive, and the amount of water they reduce—while also being a better shower—is the key story. Its second model seems to have solved some of the problems with the first, and it now has partnerships with Moen and 3M.
For greening lawn care
This company’s green lawn-care products are a big step for the landscaping industry, which is pumping tons of chemicals into the ground. People probably shouldn’t have lawns, but they do, and reinventing what people put on them could have a huge impact.
10. The Right to Shower
For funding mobile wash stations for the homeless
This corporate initiative from Unilever partners with Lava Mae, an organization that provides mobile showers to the homeless. It’s created a whole new brand within Unilever called Right To Shower, that then donates to Lava Mae. Lava Mae itself announced a big expansion this year, to essentially let people in other cities replicate its services by offering free blueprints to activists anywhere. Right To Shower is in every Whole Foods—and doing well on Amazon.
Read more about Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies: