These emerging tech firms selected as World Economic Forum 'pioneers'

From micro-factories to urban farming, these 56 firms are worth watching.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer on

The World Economic Forum has announced its 2019 cohort of global emerging tech companies shaping the world and redefining industry. The Switzerland based non-profit, which holds its influential annual meeting of economic and political leaders in Davos, selects early stage companies each year in a variety of sectors and fields, including robotics, food security, climate change, computer vision, and neuroscience.

The 56 companies selected this year have been invited to participate in a two-year program with the Forum to collaborate with tech peers and work with public and private experts around the world.

"Our new tech pioneers are at the cutting edge of many industries, using their innovations to address serious issues around the world," says Fulvia Montresor, Head of Technology Pioneers at the Forum. "This year's pioneers know that technology is about more than innovation – it is also about application. This is why we believe they'll shape the future." 

Among the companies selected this year is China's Dorabot, which uses robots to create delivery and logistics services. Another Chinese company, Alesca Life, helps hotels, restaurants, and private homes produce food in automated, water-efficient "cabinet farms."

Food security and ecologically sustainable agriculture were major themes in this year's list. US-based Inari Agriculture uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to produce crops that use less land and have a lower environmental impact than conventional crops. Mexico's Via Verde creates, installs, and maintains vertical gardens in highly populated cities.

"The World Economic Forum believes that innovation is critical to the future well-being of society and to driving economic growth," according to a spokesperson. "Launched in 2000, the Technology Pioneer community comprises 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 make a significant impact on business and society."

Fourteen countries are represented on the list, including a few not commonly associated with technology industries, including Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. Of the 56 firms selected, 25% of them are female-led. 

US company Perceptive Automata is combining behavioral science, neuroscience, and computer vision to help autonomous vehicle firms understand how pedestrians and other drivers behave on the road. Israel's TIPA is a clean-tech innovator that makes compostable plastics packaging.

Companies selected in the past have gone on to become some of the most influential technology companies in the world. Past winners include: Airbnb, Bloom Energy, bluebird bio, Cyberdyne, Editas Medicine, Foundation Medicine, Google, Kaggle, Kickstarter, Mozilla, Palantir Technologies, Proteus Digital Health, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter, and Wikimedia.

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