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 AI companies.
Today, just about every company uses data science to improve their businesses and products. But the most innovative ones are harnessing data to drive their industries forward—and develop solutions to some of the most pressing social, scientific, and technical problems. Unlocking the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, these businesses have found new applications for data and are making strides across industries.
This year’s list of the most innovative companies in data science includes Microsoft, which uses data about the way we work to inform new features for its Teams and workplace products that offer a more humane approach to hybrid work. UrbanFootprint has a sophisticated data platform that can identify households facing food insecurity or eviction, and help institutions direct their aid more effectively and efficiently. IPM.ai and Sema4, meanwhile, are putting their data analysis skills toward helping to deliver better healthcare for patients. And Smarter Sorting uses data to determine the toxicity of products without having to test on animals.
Other companies are using data for more playful purposes: Firstleaf’s wine subscription club has pioneered a way to leverage artificial intelligence to analyze over 2,000 attributes for each bottle it offers and curate shipments to each member’s personal palate. Here’s a look at the best applications of data science in 2022.
For using data on how we work to build new product features
Microsoft is using data on the way we work to inform product development of its workplace applications. In March, the company released its annual Work Trend Index, a collection of key trends shaping work life today, compiled from a study of more than 30,000 people across 31 countries, data from Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn, and brain research from Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab. From the index’s findings, Microsoft refined its workplace apps with new features, including an Outlook meeting delay tool that encourages breaks between meetings, a virtual commute experience to help remote workers be more intentional about preparing for and unwinding from the day, and a together mode that places all participants in a virtual space so that speakers can make eye contact with their team as if looking out at an auditorium. As of July 2021, Teams had 250 million monthly active users (up from 145 million in April that year). In October 2021, Microsoft reported that 138 organizations had more than 100,000 users of Teams, and more than 3,000 organizations had more than 10,000 users.
Microsoft is No. 8 on Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2022.
For identifying patients with rare diseases
With its artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, insights-as-a-service provider IPM.ai identifies undiagnosed or misdiagnosed patients suffering from rare diseases to help them get the care that they need. Part of the global health innovation company Real Chemistry, IPM.ai offers data analysis of more than 300 million anonymous patient journeys, 65 billion social determinants of health signals, and multiple sources of scientific research, to build models that identify patients in need of specific care. The company recently launched a product to both locate medically eligible patients for rare disease trials and help optimize study design and protocol development. In its three years in operation, IPM.ai has grown by 100% each year and identified thousands of patients with rare and sometimes life-threatening diseases.
For developing predictive tech for holistic health trajectories
Sema4 uses data about patient outcomes to improve predictive tech for health trajectories. In September, the company launched Sema4 Elements, a portfolio of data-driven genomic solutions to help providers treat patients holistically during reproduction and pregnancy. Insights from the portfolio include the optimal time for a pregnant woman to receive noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), predicted risk of preeclampsia, identification of molecular ancestry, and a pregnancy tool with weekly updates based on individual patient health records. In 2021, Sema4 grew its number of patient records by roughly 100%, reaching nearly 20 million by the end of the second quarter.
For using data to direct aid to those facing food insecurity or eviction
With the spotlight on social inequities this year, companies using data to make real change stand out amid empty statements and acknowledgments. UrbanFootprint has developed a community resilience data platform that provides information to assist in urban transformation projects. In 2021, the company introduced two new products, Eviction Risk Insights (ERI) and Food Security Insights (FSI), the first data tools to track food insecurity and the eviction crisis in the United States. Through these tools, UrbanFootprint can pinpoint the households facing eviction or food insecurity, down to the block group level, and highlight others at risk. With multiple six-figure contracts with state and local agencies across the United States, UrbanFootprint has helped direct aid toward millions of at-risk households.
For building the first graph database-as-a-service
TigerGraph is the first company to offer a distributed native graph database-as-a-service, providing its customers with a holistic view and understanding of their enterprises. With the world’s largest and most scalable graph platform, TigerGraph is able to run deep-link queries and produce results in less than a minute. The software company connects numerous data sets and pipelines to build customer 360 solutions and analyze the connected data, helping its customers do things like optimize supply-chain time, block fraudulent activities on mobile networks, and train AI-based customer platforms. In 2021, TigerGraph experienced a 300% increase in user adoption and revenue.
For launching the first open protocol for sharing data
Databricks operates an open-source platform that serves as a data tool for companies. In May 2021, the software company released a number of new machine learning capabilities including the world’s first open protocol designed for sharing data securely across organizations in real time, dubbed Delta Sharing. Databricks has received significant investment from major cloud providers AWS, Microsoft, and Google, which, with other industry leaders, have expressed their support of the company’s new data protocol. Today, nearly half of the world’s 500 largest companies use Databricks for data engineering and collaborative data science.
7. Smarter Sorting
For preventing animal cruelty by eliminating toxic product testing
Smarter Sorting is helping to prevent animal cruelty by using data calculations to determine the toxicity of a product without having to test on animals. After gathering all available data about a product, Smarter Sorting identifies the chemical ingredients and uses a library of toxicology data to determine the toxic level of each. The company then uses an Acute Toxicity Estimate formula to calculate the toxicity of the product, running thousands of computer-generated scenarios, in just seconds, to validate the estimate. In 2021, Smarter Sorting’s Product Intelligence platform was adopted by more than 1,200 suppliers and 24 major retailers like Costco, Wegmans, and Albertsons. The company’s revenue, meanwhile, was on track for 600% year-over-year growth in 2021.
8. Farmers Business Network
For bringing transparency to agriculture
Farmers Business Network (FBN) uses its data-enabled commerce platform to drive family farm profitability and sustainability, harnessing information from a network of more than 32,000 farmers across the United States, Canada, and Australia. In 2021, the company introduced FBN Price Transparency in its online store, using over 79,000 aggregate price points to give farmers the ability to compare costs of agricultural products often sold at vastly different price points. Farmers Business Network also built price transparency into its FBN Seed Finder, leveraging more than 43,000 seed invoices. The increased transparency in the FBN platform will help family farms save money and stay afloat in a market dominated by factory farms.
For providing large-scale information on the world’s oceans
Across the world’s oceans, Saildrone’s autonomous surface vehicles collect information for mapping, military, and climate applications. The company’s vehicles have spent more than 15,000 days at sea, sailing over 500,000 nautical miles to gather high-resolution data. With sophisticated sensors, cameras, and scientific instruments, Saildrone has compiled tens of millions of maritime images that have been used to train the company’s artificial intelligence technologies to enable real-time intelligence on the world’s oceans. Saildrone’s large-scale data sets have provided more detail on our oceans than any other company before.
For building a wine subscription that knows your taste better than you do
Firstleaf performs more than a septillion calculations a day to curate a personalized selection of wine for members of its wine club. The experience begins with a nine-question quiz to determine each customer’s taste profile, which is then further developed through a rating system that leverages machine learning to learn and refine the member’s preferences. For every wine produced by Firstleaf, an in-house chemical analysis is performed, which is leveraged by an artificial intelligence platform that analyzes over 2,000 attributes per wine to curate a shipment. There are more than 82 million possible combinations of wine boxes, and 98% of monthly curations are unique combinations of bottles.