Which companies will change the world? Each year the World Economic Forum publishes a report, which announces the most distinguishing companies of the year, because technologies and innovations are constantly changing. The list for 2014 with Technology Pioneers includes 36 (startup) companies. They are selected from a list of hundreds of applicants due to their demonstrative vision and leadership, potential for growth and innovative ideas, as well as their impact on society and business.
In a previous post, I wrote about all those lists and rankings. Why is this one important? The World Economic Forum is a worldwide acknowledged independent organization that acts as the foremost global community of businesses, politics, intellectuals and other leaders of society who are committed to improving the state of the world. Previous Technology Pioneers include Google (2001), Mozilla Corporation (2007), Wikimedia (2008), Twitter (2010), Dropbox (2012) and Kickstarter (2012), among others. With this the Technology Pioneers report has proven to be a strong indicator for upcoming trends.
The 2014 winners adhere to a wide set of trends leading towards products and services that will gain prominence in the coming years:
- Greener tomorrow (products that make both environmental and economic sense)
- Precise and targeted therapies (breakthroughs in health sector in nanomedicine and genetics (gen therapy))
- Smarter products and service (new and smarter ways of doing things, e.g. through wireless connections or the “sharing economy” principles)
- Enabling greater access (focus at emerging and developing countries or at making previously high costs products affordable)
- Robotics renaissance (taking over more and more human actions)
- Personalized and collaborative approach (machine learning for smarter suggestions, open & customizable platform, (real-time )online collaboration)
- Redesigning education delivery (revolutionizing the education sector through internet)
Out of curiosity I had a look at where the winners come from. Twenty-four are USA based. The others are spread over Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, France, Russia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. It’s true, all the BRIC countries are represented with a single company, but that’s not a lot. Why this big domination of the USA? Because of the selection committee, that is dominated by Americans? Is it the large amounts that are being invested in R&D? Or the availability of capital resources that helps trends popularize and commercialize faster than anywhere else in the world? Or because of the great mix of business schools (Harvard, Stanford), technical universities (MIT, Berkley) and clusters they have (Silicon Valley). The fact is that the USA is outcompeting the world with regards to technology and innovation. The question is for how long? Looking at the Smart21 communities, soon we can expect more from Asia, Europe and Canada.
Go to the World Economic Forum website to download the report or watch the small videos with the frontrunners.