World Changing Ideas 2021 Sponsor Logo

For the past five years, Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards have honored the businesses and organizations driving change in the world. This year, the entries reflect a range of exceptional work helping to fight the pandemic and to support people during the crisis—and the necessity of rethinking how society emerges from the past year better than before. We received more than 3,000 entries, an all-time record. The 34 winners and hundreds of other finalists—selected by Fast Company’s editors and reporters—represent the kind of innovative thinking that will help us channel the optimism and hope of this moment into a better future.


A system that continuously monitors the environment for potential pathogens and disease-carrying animals before they cause outbreaks


A range of entries offering innovative solutions to issues from climate to energy and health to education

Regeneron Antibody cocktail

A cocktail of FDA-authorized antibodies that prevents and treats COVID-19

Say My Name
Citi and Mastercard

A campaign to let transgender and nonbinary cardholders easily change the name on their account

Checkr Assess

An AI technology to reduce bias during hiring by filtering out irrelevant criminal records during background checks

Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go

An app that helps restaurants, cafés, and grocery stores stop food waste by selling surplus food at closing time

Zero Carbon Hybrid Timber Supertall Prototype

A prototype for a 105-story wooden skyscraper with a zero-carbon footprint

The Prescription Paper Pill Bottle
Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

A rethinking of the iconic pill-bottle design, in more sustainable materials

Wellthread x Renewcell collaboration
Levi Strauss & Co.

A pair of jeans made with recycled denim

Rainforest Fire Channel
Zulu Alpha Kilo

A video campaign to bring attention (and donations) to the still-burning Amazon

Rayuwa: Farmers Mean Life to Nigeria
John Deere

A program to educate and train Nigeria’s farmers to increase their food security and profitability


A money-storage solution for refugees without smartphones

Uncensored Library

A library of banned journalism hidden in 'Minecraft'


A virtual power plant that helps avoid blackouts by encouraging energy saving at key times

H&M Let's Remake, Looop
AKQA and H&M

An in-store recycling machine to demonstrate the future of clothing recycling

Perfect Day
Perfect Day

A bioreactor-grown milk protein for ice cream and other diary products, made without cows

Snoo COVID-19 Hospital Program
Happiest Baby

A program to donate this high-tech basinet to hospitals to help reduce nursing needs

Black Ambition
Black Ambition

A pathway to capital for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs via awards and mentorships

Stays Between Us

A visual novel created for Instagram, with micro-influencers as characters

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income

A coalition of U.S. mayors experimenting with supplementing residents’ incomes with cash


An app that helps incarcerated people stay connected to loved ones for free

Peer by Payfactors

A platform to provide companies with real-time data to determine fair salaries

Carbon-eating concrete

A concrete that captures CO2 during its production process

Fatimah El-Rashid, Jenny Hu, Joy Zhang, Sille Eva Bertelsen, and Samurai L.

A web plug-in that blocks digital ads from unsustainable fashion brands to prevent greenwashing

FLXdrive Battery Locomotive

A locomotive that runs on electricity, not diesel

Vejlands Quarter
Henning Larsen Architects

A sustainable neighborhood in Denmark with every building made entirely out of timber

Beyond Electric Toothbrush

An automatic toothbrush that uses a windup mechanism instead of a battery


An online marketplace for every independent bookstore

NX Navigator

A technology that protects solar power plants from costly damage by extreme weather

City of Oakland renewable fuels project

A process to convert restaurant cooking grease into renewable diesel to power the city’s vehicles

Visual Weighing Machine
Wadhwani AI

An AI-powered machine to allow health workers to identify underweight newborns


A digital location service that helps e-commerce deliveries take place in locations without precise postal addresses


A beer-brewing process in rural Brazilian communities using local crops such as cassava and family farm labor

Air Company
Air Company

A process to make products—such as vodka and jet fuel—from captured CO2

General Excellence

The broadest ideas, be they new government policies, new business models, or entire new consumer categories. Anything that has the potential to effect true systems change or solve wicked problems.

Company Of The Year

Companies that submitted multiple entries with quality, breadth, and ambition in their submitted work

Pandemic Response

Programs, products, policies, or anything else designed to mitigate either the health effects of COVID-19 or the economic effects of lockdowns.


Campaigns designed to draw attention to social issues and inspire people to act or to promote world-changing products or services.

AI and Data

Projects that harness the power of data, machine learning, or artificial intelligence to understand the world and empower change.


Projects that live primarily in a mobile format, in any discipline.


Buildings that change the way we live or work, making it more sustainable, more energy efficient, and more humane.

Art and Design

Projects using design as the vehicle to shake up conversations surrounding society’s most pressing issues.

Consumer Products

Items for your house or office that help you live a more purposeful life, or fundamentally alter outdated business models or supply chains of our current consumer goods.

Corporate Social Responsibility

For corporate initiatives that use a company’s platform and power to help advance change, either internally or for the community.


Any creative project–photography, writing, visualization, film–that helps explain and publicize global problems and solutions.

Developing World Technology

Products designed specifically for the developing world, both ones intended for the bottom of the pyramid and those intended to help create leapfrog innovation.


Companies or initiatives that help inspire better and more equitable learning.


Solar, wind, and any other innovative ideas to create clean power (either for personal use or at a large scale) or new systems for better electricity distribution.


Concepts, prototypes, and just-launched ideas that may not have clear impact but have the potential to change how we think about an issue.


Projects changing what we eat, how we eat, and how we get our food.


Medical innovations that save lives, extend longevity, or increase access to care.

Impact Investing

Impact funds, social impact bonds, and other investments in change making organizations or initiatives that generate societal benefit along with financial return.

Media and Entertainment

Movies, books, videos, and other projects that expose issues or create actionable change.

Politics and Policy

Innovative campaigns or policy initiatives that challenge the status quo for the benefit of the environment, equity, and society.

Social Justice

Projects that help advance the cause of civil rights for marginalized people or groups.


Projects whose main feature is a software component, in any discipline.

Spaces, Places, and Cities

Buildings, landscapes, urban designs, and policies that make cities and living in them cleaner, more efficient, more beautiful, and more equitable for their citizens.


Projects in any category, created by undergraduate or graduate students.


Projects that get you places whether on two wheels or four in new, interesting, and fuel-efficient ways.

Urban Design

Landscapes, urban designs, and policies that make cities and living in them cleaner, more efficient, more beautiful, and more equitable for their citizens.


Products and projects that improve either personal or global well-being, from equipment to apps to consumables.

On The Rise: 0-4 Years In Business

Companies that have achieved incredible impact and have been in business under 4 years.

Established Excellence: 5-14 Years In Business

Companies that have achieved incredible impact and have been in business between 5 and 14 years.

Enduring Impact: 15+ Years In Business

Companies that have achieved incredible impact and have been in business over 15 years.

Best World Changing Idea Asia-Pacific

The best world changing idea overall in the Asia-Pacific region.

Best World Changing Idea Europe, Middle East, and Africa

The best world changing idea overall in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Best World Changing Idea Latin America

The best world changing idea overall in Latin America.

Best World Changing Idea North America

The best world changing idea overall in North America.