These are essentially the most thrilling inexperienced Tech Pioneers of 2021

  • Here is our pick of some of the most innovative and exciting green-tech pioneers.
  • From lab-grown fish to food coatings you can eat.
  • From zero-emissions flying to satellite data to verify reforestation.

The 2021 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers list has been announced, featuring a diverse and inclusive line-up.

There are 26 countries represented this year, with El Salvador, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe among those appearing in the ranking for the first time. Of the 100 companies listed, more than a third are women-led businesses.

While the innovators and entrepreneurs that make up the Technology Pioneers list are focussed on a wide selection of technology, there is a strong representation from those pursuing positive environmental changes.

High-end recycled plastic

In India, Banyan Nation has launched a recycling system to tackle the problems caused by plastic pollution. Its process for recycling involves a high degree of cleaning and refining, which results in a high-grade recycled plastic suitable for use in many applications. The firm is creating jobs for locals, and says it recovers all the water used in its recycling processes.

Taking its name from the American brothers who pioneered powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903, the Wright 1 is an electric aircraft designed to fly at distances approaching 1300 km. The company behind the plane, Wright, say their design will bring “zero-emissions flight down to the same cost as running a fossil-fueled fleet”. They forecast it will be commercially active by 2030.

Overfishing damages fish populations and can cause long-term harm to delicately balanced environments like coral reefs. A start-up from Hong Kong, Avant Meats, is offering lab-grown fillets of fish as an alternative. Fish stem cells are fed on nutrients and grow edible fillets in less time than it takes for a fish to grow to an edible size. Unlike farmed fish, the lab-grown alternative is free of pollutants or disease.

a chart showing the threats to overfishing in coral reefs

Lab-grown fish wouldn’t harm a coral reef but would you eat it?

Image: US National Ocean Service

Plastic pollution is a well-documented problem. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that plastic also plays a vital role in keeping medical equipment sterile and helping food last longer. Boston-based Mori is developing a plastic-wrap alternative for the food supply chain, based on naturally derived silk protein. Unlike plastic, Mori’s silk-based wrap is added as an invisible coating during the washing process foods go through prior to being shipped to stores. Not only is it all-natural, it is edible too.

AI helps verify offsetting

Pachama is a Silicon Valley technology company using AI and satellite data to take carbon offsetting to a new level. Its platform allows organizations that are working toward net-zero or carbon neutrality to confidently support a variety of carbon sequestration projects. From reforestation to habitat conservation projects, Pachama is able to validate projects’ effectiveness by automatically analyzing satellite images.

Launched in 2000, the Technology Pioneer community is composed of early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies and innovations, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

By joining this community, Technology Pioneers begin a two-year journey where they are part of the World Economic Forum’s initiatives, activities and events, bringing their cutting-edge insight and fresh thinking to critical global discussions.

Meet the Technology Pioneers cohort of 2021. This year we’re bringing together 100 early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are pioneering new technologies and innovations.

Apply here to become a Technology Pioneer of the World Economic Forum.

The Technology Pioneers are invited by the World Economic Forum to participate in and contribute to a number of its activities and events. Past Technology Pioneers include: Airbnb, Kickstarter, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter and Wikimedia.

“The 2021 cohort of Tech Pioneers include many future headline makers at the forefront of their industries,” said Susan Nesbitt, Head of the Global Innovators Community, World Economic Forum. “These companies show great potential to not only shake up their industries but offer real solutions to global problems. They’ll bring great value to the World Economic Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world with their participation in the Technology Pioneers community.”


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