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What we’ll be looking for when we judge your 2022 World Changing Ideas entries

Applications are open now for Fast Company’s 6th annual World Changing Ideas Awards. This is how we think about the entries.

What we’ll be looking for when we judge your 2022 World Changing Ideas entries

We don’t want anyone to miss the chance to apply for the 2022 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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The winners for 2021 included a prototype for a 105-story wooden skyscraper with a zero-carbon footprint, a library of banned journalism hidden in Minecraft, a system that continuously monitors the environment for disease-carrying animals before they cause outbreaks, and many more. But hundreds more projects are named as finalists and honorable mentions, and they all rate well into the four metrics we use to judge entries: impact, design, scalability, and ingenuity. I wrote a simple guide last year to help entrants understand what we’re looking for, and we’re publishing an updated version below to help guide you as you think about applying.

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 lives, society, or the environment—not just business bottom lines. Impact can, of course, mean different things. We are interested in both projects that will create enormous change for 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 mean this both conceptually and physically. 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.

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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 at the moment. If it’s only designed to serve a small, but crucial market, then it should be clear that you’ll be able to expand to that entire market.

Ingenuity

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: We want to give credit to projects on a large spectrum between concept and execution. But no matter what stage the idea is in, it should be bold, new, and innovative. We don’t want to award a project that is 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 several new categories in work and the workplace, and new awards for projects finding innovative ways to fight climate change, solve water issues, and help prevent the loss of biodiversity. We’re also continuing to run a category for people working on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in its second year. And finally, 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. Please tell us about 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 10, 2021, but if you apply before November 13, there’s a discount. Apply here.

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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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