Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative media, design, and consumer goods companies.
This year’s list of the Most Innovative Companies in the Asia-Pacific region is topped by Indonesian logistics startup Shipper, which weaves together the country’s fragmented infrastructure by helping third-party logistics firms manage orders and optimize shipping routes. But the companies on the list run the gamut of industries, including food, entertainment, e-commerce, and even mattresses.
While the number of fake-meat companies has grown in recent years, Australia’s v2Food is a little different from most: The company has worked with chefs in countries including China and Korea to make meat replacements for regional-specific dishes. Another Australian company, Great Wrap, has made a product to help extend food’s shelf life: compostable and marine biodegradable cling film. The third food-related company on the list, Indonesia’s Aruna, helps local fishermen connect with large buyers and access insurance and financing.
In the media space, India’s telecom giant Reliance Jio struck a deal with WhatsApp, India’s most popular messaging app with 520 million users, to integrate its JioMart network of superstores onto the app. Another Indian e-commerce business, Fynd, helped store owners with no online presence sell goods remotely when they had to shutter due to the pandemic.
In South Korea, Naver Z’s ambitious Zepeto app is a social media platform and avatar-based metaverse rolled into one. Zepeto’s users, who are 70% female, have flocked to the online hub for fashion and culture over the past 18 months. Here’s a look at the most innovative companies across the Asia-Pacific region.
For piecing together Indonesia’s fragmented logistics network
While Indonesia’s e-commerce market is one of the fastest-growing in the world, its logistics network has struggled to keep pace. Knitting together an island nation amid a global pandemic is no easy feat. Five-year-old Jakarta-based Shipper, a logistics aggregator, is solving the problem by making fulfilling and tracking orders easier and more efficient. Indonesia doesn’t have a connected shipping infrastructure: Sellers, instead, use a variety of different shippers, many of which only cover a small part of the country. (Smaller sellers often just use social media as their storefront and courier products to buyers themselves.) To get packages where they need to go more efficiently, Shipper built a technology stack that helps third-party logistics firms manage orders, including optimizing their shipping routes and packaging together orders that are going to the same place. It has also built 220 large fulfillment centers (representing 6 million square feet of storage) across 35 cities to receive and store goods. And the company has identified more than 12,000 retail points (e.g. small grocers) that can aggregate orders from third-party logistics companies for customers to pick up locally or have delivered by couriers. (Shipper gives each courier their own delivery radius so they are not competing against each other.) In January, the company raised a $63 million Series B from the likes of Lightspeed Ventures and Y Combinator to further its mission of bringing an Amazon-like delivery infrastructure to Indonesia. Since April 2020, Shipper has grown its customer base from 2,700 to more than 20,000 online sellers.
Shipper is No. 38 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.
2. Naver Z
For giving the metaverse a sense of style
Launched in 2018 by the South Korean tech company Naver Z Corporation, Zepeto is a social media platform and avatar-based metaverse rolled into one. Like Roblox, it has its own digital currency, but unlike that game’s blocky avatars, Zepeto’s are much more stylish. With a user base that’s 70% female and between the ages of 13 and 24—and 90% based outside of Korea—Zepeto has established itself as an online hub for fashion and culture over the past 18 months. In September 2020, 46 million users attended a virtual signing with members of the K-pop girl group Blackpink; this December, the Korean Tourism Association tapped Zepeto to livestream its massive K-Vibe Concert, showcasing some of the music industry’s biggest stars, and a virtual “K-travelog” experience meant to entice visitors to the country. (Zepeto’s investors include some of the country’s biggest record labels—YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, and Hybe, as well as SoftBank.) Fashion companies are also lining up: Gucci created a Zepeto villa last spring, where users could buy virtual clothes for their avatars. Other brands that have set up shop on the platform include Christian Louboutin, Dior, and Ralph Lauren. Zara partnered with South Korean fashion brand Ader Error to launch AZ capsule collection, with Zepeto selling virtual versions of the items. Zepeto’s graphic design tools and templates also make it exceedingly easy for users to create their fashionable gear—and sell to others on the platform. Zepeto doubled its revenue in the third quarter of 2021 over the previous year and plans to go beyond fashion to add more subscription products and functional items for sale on the platform.
3. Reliance Retail
For meeting Indian consumers where they are online
This year, Indian telecom giant Reliance integrated with WhatsApp to let users order and purchase products from its JioMart network of superstores, as well as from some independent corner stores, through the messaging app. Delivery or pickup is free with no minimum order, and customers can pay electronically via JioMart or with cash. (Reliance previously introduced a cheaper no-frills smartphone, retailing at $87, to connect lower-income customers to its services.) The move means that India’s most popular app, WhatsApp—which counts 520 million users in the country and through which many people only access the internet on their phones—has united with the country’s largest brick-and-mortar network. Through the WhatsApp program, JioMart aims to also attract even more kiranas (local corner shops, many of which are already active on WhatsApp) to JioMart’s marketplace.
For making regionally specific meat alternatives
Developed with Australia’s National Science Agency, Sydney’s v2Food produces plant-based meat substitutes made with protein extracted from legumes. This year, the company has seen explosive growth, going from a team of less than 10 to more than 70 employees in Australia, China, and the Philippines. In 18 months, the company expanded to become a supplier to Burger King, providing plant-based Whoppers to outposts in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines, and started serving South Korea’s biggest meal-delivery service, Baemin. This year, v2food also opened an office in Shanghai to cater to the Chinese market, consulting with Chinese chefs for creating dumplings, buns, and pork rolls that match the regional palate.
For using unlikely materials to give athletes a good night’s sleep
As the official bedding partner of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Tokyo-based bedding manufacturer Airweave supplied mattresses, toppers, and pillows to 26,000 athletes last summer. Airweave developed a special modular bed-frame design, made from highly durable recyclable cardboard, and modular mattress made from their proprietary recyclable airfiber material, which features a different firmness on each side, allowing athletes to customize their beds to suit their shoulders, waists, and legs by turning over or swapping out the blocks. The company also developed MattressFit, an app for body measurement and analysis, that helps users figure out the best bed configuration for them.
6. Great Wrap
For creating a cling wrap that can biodegrade within 30 days
In March 2020, Melbourne, Australia-based Great Wrap launched the world’s first compostable and marine biodegradable cling film, made from biopolymers that are created with agricultural food waste. The wrap is now used and stocked by hundreds of independent grocers in Australia. In July, the company, which worked with Melbourne’s Monash University to create the product, expanded to an even bigger market, creating a certified compostable wrap designed for commercial uses, which can take heavy loads without breaking, such as binding goods on pallets. The company is opening its first biorefinery this year, which will convert 50,000 tons of food waste into compostable packaging that will break down in under 30 days if it enters the ocean.
7. Noora Health
For training families to fight COVID-19
Established in 2014, Bangalore-based Noora Health teaches sick people how to care for themselves in their home and at the hospital, and educates members of the community on how to tend to sick loved ones. This year, its mission became even more crucial, as it educated both patients and their families on COVID-19 protocols. The company quickly worked to expand its COVID-related educational content, teaching communities how to self-isolate and use an oximeter, and when to seek oxygen support. Noora Health also created content on topics like vaccine hesitancy, and trained more than 10,000 healthcare staffers from its 115 partner NGOs. To reach patients at home, the company created a teletraining program to help patients who tested positive for COVID manage their illness. The program has reached 127,258 patients to date.
For helping Indonesian fishermen find strength in numbers
The fishing industry in Indonesia has historically been highly fragmented. Jakarta-based Aruna connects fishing villages and fishermen with large buyers and helps them access insurance and financing. The app, used by more than 20,000 independent fishermen, provides a digital fish auction and marketplace, which became more important during the pandemic when fewer in-person transactions could take place. Last year, the company launched Seafood by Aruna, which delivers fishery products, produce, and staples directly to customers’ homes. The app’s in-house brand, also called Seafood by Aruna, provides ready-to-cook meal kits to consumers in Jakarta, Bandung, and Balikpapan.
For connecting brick-and-mortar retailers with online customers
Ten-year-old Mumbai-based e-commerce company Fynd overhauled its in-store product, Fynd Store, to help retailers with no online presence sell goods remotely. Fynd Store enables store owners to connect with their customers through email and WhatsApp, and lets shoppers pay for goods to be delivered by last-mile delivery services. Features like secure video group calling, meanwhile, enable consumers to ask questions and get a good look at products before purchasing. For electronics and footwear retailers who lack the financial capability to pay for a large stock of inventory, Fynd built an assisted-sales platform that allows them to access inventory from big brands and trade retailers. Fynd also developed inventory lists for each of the stores that uses its service, and pushes out real-time updates for each list across a store’s online channels, including its website, Amazon, and Flipkart.
10. Propeller Aero
For enlisting drones to track progress on construction sites
Australia’s Propeller Aero uses drone imaging and photogrammetry to make accurate maps for construction companies and creates 3D models of worksites in the construction, mining, and waste management industries. The drone surveying platform captures metrics including daily volumes, heat maps, and design measurements to get accurate data. This year, the company added a composite survey function, giving large companies an even better picture of their worksite. Over the past year, the company’s user numbers increased by 76% and monthly active sites increased by 84%.