What do Kickstarter, Dropbox, Foursquare and Spotify all have in common? Before becoming household names, each was featured on the prestigious Technology Pioneers list, sponsored by the World Economic Forum.
Since 2000, nearly 500 startups have been annually selected because of their industry-changing potential or the effect they could have on societies and economies around the globe. According to the WEF website, the participating companies are judged on the following criteria: "innovation, potential impact, growth and sustainability, and proof of concept and leadership."
Today, a new set of 23 innovative companies were selected for the Technology Pioneers 2013 list. These startups are expected to drastically alter their particular fields over the next year and have been chosen because of their "promise of significantly impacting the way business and society operate," per the WEF website. A WEF press release stated the newest inductees will also be formally recognized on September 11 - 13, during the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China.
This year's crop of startups include a company developing thermal batteries, several solar energy initiatives, and one firm responsible for a sensor that lets users move their hands to interact with technology instead of reaching for a remote control. Check out the slideshow below to see all the honorees from the Technology Pioneers of 2013 list. Have you heard of some of these companies? Do you already use any of these services? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. For a look at previous Tech Pioneers, have a look at the WEC's list from last year.
<a href="http://www.tobii.com/" target="_hplink">Tobii</a> is changing computer interactions with eye tracking and gaze interaction technology. "Gaze interaction helps thousands of people with special needs to communicate," and eye tracking has already become an "industry standard in many fields."
<a href="http://www.primesense.com/" target="_hplink">PrimeSense</a> wants to "completely revolutionize" the way you use your digital devices. One of the organization's main products is the <a href="http://www.primesense.com/en/solutions/solsensor" target="_hplink">PrimeSense Sensor</a>, which allows customers to use their hands (instead of a remote control) to interact with technology.
According to the company website, <a href="http://mc10inc.com/" target="_hplink">MC10</a> can "transform rigid, planar electronics into new types of systems that can bend, stretch and wrap into novel form factors." <a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/demo/428944/making-stretchable-electronics/" target="_hplink">Technology Review</a> highlighted examples of these stretchable electronics, suggesting this technology could lead to products like "skin patches that monitor whether the wearer is sufficiently hydrated, or inflatable balloon catheters."
Lookout Mobile Security
<a href="https://www.mylookout.com/about" target="_hplink">Lookout's</a> primary goal is to make the mobile experience a safe one. The company's technology helps to "protect you from viruses, malware and spyware." It also gives customers the ability to back up and restore phone data.
<a href="http://liquidr.com/company/about-us/" target="_hplink">Liquid Robotics</a> was incorporated in 2007 in the hopes of creating a "station-keeping data buoy for monitoring humpback whales." The company's flagship product based off this mission is <a href="http://liquidr.com/technology/wave-glider-concept/" target="_hplink">The Wave Glider</a>.
<a href="http://www.passivsystems.com/" target="_hplink">PassivSystems</a> offers customers a way to change how they use energy in their homes. "Starting with energy, and continuing with security, assisted-living, and other lifestyle services," the company is creating products to help people "live better" and save money.
<a href="http://www.shopkick.com/index" target="_hplink">Shopkick</a> has developed a digital rewards program for avid shoppers. Walk through stores like Target, Best Buy and Old Navy to "automatically rack up über-versatile points called 'kicks.'" Then use those points to grab rewards from participating companies.
<a href="http://soundcloud.com/" target="_hplink">SoundCloud</a> lets you record and share music with the world via social networks and websites. "Capture a voice, moment or music in seconds or upload audio you've already created" and then connect with other people to receive "likes" or comments.
<a href="http://www.vidyo.com/" target="_hplink">Vidyo</a> is a video conferencing system, founded in 2005. It's goal is to provide service on "any device, on any available network," and at an affordable cost to the consumer.
<a href="http://www.azuri-technologies.com/" target="_hplink">Azuri's</a> mission is to give power, energy and lighting to everyone. One of the company's advancements includes technology that combines solar devices with mobile phones.
Promethean Power Systems
<a href="http://www.coolectrica.com/technology/" target="_hplink">Promethean</a> is developing a thermal battery "that stores and releases cold thermal energy," giving off a stream of cold fluid opposed to electrical current. The company hopes to use this fluid to help chill food products, partially in developing countries.
Coulomb Technologies is a U.S. company behind <a href="http://www.chargepoint.com/" target="_hplink">ChargePoint</a>, "the largest network" of charging stations for electric vehicle drivers.
<a href="http://enphase.com/" target="_hplink">Enphase</a> is a solar energy company who's hope is to be the "world's finest networked energy system." The firm has offices in the U.S., France, Italy and the U.K.
"<a href="http://www.va-q-tec.com/en/vacuum-insulation-panel-61.html" target="_hplink">Va-Q-tec</a> offers a wide range of products including cost effective customised vacuum insulation panels (pictured) and heat & cool storage elements containing phase change materials," <a href="http://www.va-q-tec.com/en/va-Q-tec-AG-92,2741.html" target="_hplink">per the company's website</a>. Va-Q-tec's thermal technology offers sustainable, environmentally-friendly products that can be used in packaging, storage, and more.
<a href="http://www.practicefusion.com/" target="_hplink">Practice Fusion</a> was founded in 2005 and provides "free electronic medical records with eRx and labs available anytime, anywhere." The company prides itself on being free, secure and reliable.
<a href="http://mindcandy.com/" target="_hplink">Mind Candy</a> is an "entertainment company that creates extraordinary brands with online games at their heart." Over 65 million kids have joined <a href="http://www.moshimonsters.com/" target="_hplink">Moshi Monsters</a>, one of the company's most successful game franchises.
<a href="http://www.rightscale.com/" target="_hplink">RightScale</a> lets you "manage of all of your clouds -- public, private, and hybrid -- and all of your resources -- compute, storage, and networking." The company launched in 2006 and has since served over 4.5 million customers.
<a href="http://www.lanzatech.co.nz/content/overview" target="_hplink">LanzaTech</a> works to meet the rising demand for energy by providing systems that create "affordable, low carbon fuels and sustainably produced chemicals."
<a href="http://www.transphormusa.com/" target="_hplink">Transphorm</a> is working to efficiently change how we convert power by using methods that "eliminate up to 90 percent of all electric conversion losses."
<a href="http://www.voltea.com/about/introduction/" target="_hplink">"Voltea</a> aims to help people and businesses access clean, potable water while reducing environmental impact." Some of the company's services include research in both water softening and wastewater reuse.
<a href="http://www.alienvault.com/" target="_hplink">AlienVault</a> is an "open and collaborative security paradigm" that offers threat management options. The company operates out of both the U.S. and U.K.
Anhui LIGOO New Energy Technology
<a href="http://www.ligoo.cn/en/" target="_hplink">This technical research company</a> specializes in energy advancement and is based out of China. LIGOO's products are "mainly used in the field of electric vehicles."
<a href="http://www.ingenuity.com/index.html" target="_hplink">Ingenuity Systems</a> is an organization based in California that provides information to the life science community in order to help researchers study topics like genes and proteins.