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What we’re looking for when we judge World Changing Ideas entries

We want to hear about your world-changing ideas!

What we’re looking for when we judge World Changing Ideas entries
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We don’t want anyone to miss the chance to apply for this year’s World Changing Ideas awards—which honor products, concepts, companies, policies, and designs that are pursuing innovation for good—and so we want to let you know more about what we’re looking for in your entries.

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Some of the winners have included a new kind of thread made out of trees, glasses that talk to the visually impaired, and a solar-powered fridge to keep things cold in communities without an electrical grid. But hundreds more projects are named as finalists and honorable mentions, and they all rate well in the four metrics we use to judge entries: impact, design, scalability, and ingenuity.

Impact

We want projects that have created (or are trying to create) substantive, positive change in the world. We also want to make sure the impact is in important areas, places where the positive change will valuably improve people’s lives. Impact can, of course, mean different things. We are interested in both projects that will create enormous change to a small number of people and projects that will create small but substantive change for an enormous number of people. Either way, we want the projects to indeed be world changing.

Design

We want projects that have well-thought-out plans for how they’ll create their impact—and how they’ll avoid potential negative externalities. Functionality and aesthetics are also important: A valuable idea won’t gain traction if it is difficult or unpleasant to use.

Scalability

Entries may be small right now, but do they have the potential to grow, and bring the change to more people than are currently being served? We’re looking for ideas that have the ability to change the world, so their potential reach should be large, even if it’s only serving a small number of people right now.

Ingenuity

We want to give credit to projects on a large spectrum between concept and execution. Because we limit entries to projects that debuted in the last calendar year, we are interested in projects that range from conceptual to just launched to fully operational. But the ideas in each stage should be bold, new, and innovative. We don’t want simply a tweak that iterates on an existing world changing idea. The best entries offer a pathbreaking solution to an important problem.

We have more than 30 categories this year, including five new categories in architecture, urban design, wellness, software, and a special 2021 category for people working on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve also added extra categories for companies of different sizes, so we can be sure we’re honoring both innovative startups and organizations with a long-term record of success. We hope to get a chance to look at yours!

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The winners of our awards are seen by millions of people, and our hope is we can support the growth of positive social innovation by showcasing the best examples—whether from a major corporation or a small nonprofit—to the business community, and that our finalists get enough exposure so they can scale even further. We’ll be accepting entries until December 11, 2020, but if you apply before November 16, there’s a discount. Apply here.

About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Impact section, formerly FastCoExist.com. Have an idea for a story? You can reach him at mclendaniel [at] fastcompany.com

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