AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

Check out the Most Innovative Companies in entertainment, media, sports, technology, and more.

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The Most Innovative Companies of 2022

Innovating on behalf of customers never goes out of fashion. Our definitive annual showcase of the best in business features inspiring stories across a wide range of industries, from advertising to wellness, and every corner of the globe.

SORT BY 
01
Stripe
For kick-starting the carbon-removal industry
01
Tackling climate change is going to require more than cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Society is going to need to pull carbon out of the atmosphere. By the next decade, the world may need to remove tens of millions of tons of CO2 from the air annually; by 2050, that number could grow to 10 gigatons a year. Natural solutions, such as planting trees, can only go so far. Stripe Climate lets customers of the online payments company join its strategy to fund ambitious carbon-removal technology by contributing a percentage of their digital sales that flow through Stripe’s software. In spring 2021, Stripe adjusted its onboarding process to allow new customers to join the program. Soon, one in 10 was opting in. Tens of thousands of businesses are now part of Stripe Climate.
02
Solugen
For devising an emissions-free way to turn sugar into industrial chemicals
02
Solugen has developed a process of turning corn syrup into industrial chemicals using enzymes and metal catalysis—removing oil, coal, and natural gas from the process. “If you follow the [sugar] molecule,” Solugen cofounder Gaurab Chakrabarti says, “everything becomes quite simple.” That comment belies the complex science at work in the company’s Houston bioforge, which creates none of the emissions of petrochemical processes and has yields of up to 90%. The company launched with four chemicals (organic acids and aldehydes), with 17 in development. They’re being used in water treatment, concrete production to reduce cement use, and in agriculture to deliver nutrients to crops.
03
Twelve
For turning the tide on petrochemicals
03
The startup’s carbon-transformation process uses a metal catalyst and renewable energy to break CO2 and water molecules into smaller atomic bits, and then re-forms them into new chemicals that can be used in manufacturing. Twelve has already partnered with the Air Force to make jet fuel from CO2, and it’s worked with Daimler and Procter & Gamble to demonstrate that it can re-create ingredients needed to make car parts and Tide, respectively. The new chemicals are a one-for-one replacement, so Twelve’s customers can lower their carbon footprints without affecting product performance. The startup raised $57 million last summer as it works to build out its process to industrial scale.
04
BlocPower
For tackling climate change by giving every homeowner the opportunity to electrify
04
In the United States, consumption of fossil fuels by residential buildings generates 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, making the sector the third most emitting, after transportation and industry. Solar panels and advances in energy efficiency have made a dent in the building sector’s carbon footprint, but until recently, no one was addressing the heart of the issue, at the heart of the home: removing the furnaces, boilers, stoves, and other oil- and gas-based products that drive demand for fossil fuels. These outmoded appliances are exactly what BlocPower is tackling. Led by cofounder and CEO Donnel Baird, the startup is electrifying buildings by installing technologies like heat pumps—and it's focusing its efforts on low- and middle-income communities. "I just know in my bones that we can address the climate crisis at scale," Baird says. "I don't know if we will. But I know we can." 
05
Climate Trace
For tracking down country-level emissions data
05
With 59 trillion bytes of data from more than 300 satellites and 11,000 sensors, Climate Trace, a coalition of organizations formed in 2020, updates and maintains greenhouse gas emissions estimates to give countries the insights they need to direct climate mitigation efforts more effectively. It released its comprehensive data sets last September, bringing carbon reporting up to date. (Official emissions estimates submitted to the UN trail reality, even in countries that are required to report every year, like the United States.) It also has intelligence on where countries such as India create the most CO2, allowing Climate Trace to assist them in their carbon-reduction goals. Finally, Climate Trace and its partners can also isolate emissions sources by geography—for example, plastic waste sites in Indonesia—to encourage cleanup.
06
Watershed
For putting companies on a carbon diet
06
Only a fraction of companies calculate the full CO2 effects of what they produce. The startup Watershed, which launched in February 2021, uses software to help companies like Airbnb, DoorDash, Shopify, Sweetgreen, and Warby Parker assess all their emissions, develop a reduction strategy, and connect to carbon-removal solutions. Most companies only measure their Scope 1 (direct greenhouse gas emissions from within the company's control) and Scope 2 (electricity and other energy purchases) emissions. Only about one-fifth of businesses measure so-called Scope 3 emissions, which take into account the production of a product and its use; that makes up about 80% of a business’s true carbon footprint. Watershed looks at the climate impact of a company’s entire “value chain,” as it’s known, and helps it determine an aggressive plan to get to net zero via a mix of reducing operations emissions and funding carbon removal. By the end of Watershed’s first year, it was helping customers manage emissions equivalent to more than four times the carbon footprint of San Francisco, the site of Watershed's headquarters.
07
Doconomy
For calculating the cost of our lifestyles
07
Swedish environmental impact technology firm Doconomy quantifies environmental impact with such tools as its Lifestyle Calculator, released last September. Users complete a detailed survey, and Doconomy estimates an individual’s annual emissions in categories such as transport, home, shopping, and diet. (Transportation is typically the largest contributor to a personal carbon footprint.) In 2021, it also launched the 2030 Calculator, a tool that simplifies the process of calculating the carbon footprint of manufactured products at a high level of accuracy across multiple product categories. This allows brands to quantify the impact of all stages of their value chains up until the point of sale of a product, based on factors such as materials, processes, energy, and transportation. They can also offer their customers a transparent look at the true environmental impact of their products and services.
08
Microsoft
For humanizing productivity
08
When Microsoft decided to create a snapshot of work and collaboration during a time of unprecedented change, it had plenty of resources to draw on, from a 30,000-person survey to anonymized Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn stats to brain research conducted in its Human Factors Lab. As the company analyzed more than a trillion data points, “We started to see trends and patterns that we’d never seen before,” says corporate VP of modern work Jared Spataro. Along with creating an annual report on its findings, Microsoft is now using them to inform new product features such as a scheduling option designed to ensure that employees get breaks between meetings—a valuable mind-clearing exercise that’s often overlooked in the age of video calls. Given the scale of Microsoft’s business software footprint—as of July 2021, Teams alone had almost 250 million monthly active users—no company is in a better position to help take the pain out of productivity.
09
SpaceX
For building a rocket that just runs
09
In 2005, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk scoffed at the idea that rockets had to be expensive to be reliable. Instead, they could be the Honda Civics of the sky. “You can have a cheap car that’s reliable,” he told Fast Company. “And the same applies to rockets.” Last year, SpaceX made strides toward that vision, completing a record 31 flights of its Falcon 9 rocket, including its launch of the first all-civilian crew into orbit at a cost of $55 million per seat; NASA had been paying $80 million per seat in 2017. “They’ve had this incredible impact on the sector in lowering the cost of launch and expanding the number of opportunities, which really is key to this second golden age of space,” says Andrew Rush, president and COO of aerospace manufacturer Redwire, which sent four advanced materials and plant science payloads to the International Space Station via the Falcon 9 in December. SpaceX rockets aren’t as trusty as a Civic, but for space, they may be as close as we’ll get.
10
Canva
For making designers of us all
10
Canva is a word processor for our modern visual culture, adjusting anything you see—text, an image, a background, an animation—with a simple tap. Its easy-to-use, templated design platform allows people to create business cards, birthday invitations, social media ads, sales presentations, coffee mugs, and yearbooks. “We’re trying to reduce the time [it takes] to get you feeling confident in your ability,” says CEO Melanie Perkins. The service, which debuted as a free tool before adding paid Pro and Enterprise tiers, has systematically rolled out tools for every content form imaginable. The result is an increasingly robust product that has democratized the way design works—at home and across large organizations. Canva, which is valued by private investors at $40 billion, expects to surpass $1 billion in revenue this year.
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