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This year’s Boldness in Business had six category awards ( Drivers of Change, Technology, Corporate Responsibility/Environment, Entrepreneurship, Smaller Company and Developing Markets ) as well as an award for Person of the Year. Here are the outline profiles of the winners and the shortlist of nominees in the company categories.
PERSON OF THE YEAR
Helena Morrissey is the public face of the 30% Club, which lobbies for greater female representation on corporate boards. Having spent 15 years as chief executive of Newton Investment Management, overseeing assets that more than doubled during her tenure, she operates in an industry where fewer than one in 10 funds are run by women. In May, she joins Legal & General Investment Management, the UK’s biggest asset manager, as head of personal investing. Rarely known to shun controversy, her campaigns include reining in executive pay, demanding more transparency from the investment industry and, ahead of the 2016 referendum, being a prominent figure advocating Britain’s exit from the EU.
DRIVERS OF CHANGE
The London-based company develops artificial intelligence systems that can learn to solve hugely complex problems. Its AlphaGo system made headlines in March 2016 when it defeated the (human) world champion of go, the Chinese strategy game. DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 for £400m, is developing its AI for such real-world applications as improving public health and tackling climate change.
The Japanese company develops ways for electronic devices to use artificial intelligence by connecting them to machine-learning platforms. It is working with robotics developer Fanuc to give its machines the capability to learn how to improve factory output and diagnose technical problems. A partnership with Toyota aims to provide the machine learning platform needed to produce a commercial autonomous car.
CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY/ ENVIRONMENT
Once one of Europe’s most coal-intensive utilities, the Danish company operates some of the world’s largest offshore wind farms. It installed its 1,000th wind turbine in the sea last year, the first company to do so. After launching a successful initial public offering, Dong announced in November that it would be completely withdrawing from its oil and gas businesses to focus on renewable energy production.
Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is a subscription-based US shaving company, co-founded by former marketing executive Michael Dubin in 2011. Viral YouTube videos starring Dubin have helped attract millions of subscribers and the company has expanded to include other male personal grooming products. By 2016, Dollar Shave Club accounted for more than half of the online market for male razors and was acquired by Unilever last year for $1bn.
The UK robotics developer enables autonomous driving in a variety of vehicles on roads and in other settings such as warehouses and pedestrianised areas. Its software learns to control a car by recording humans as they drive it. Once the software has learnt to react correctly to obstacles, it can take over the task. Oxbotica proposes to license the software to leading car manufacturers.
Venezuela’s largest private company produces beer, soft drinks and staple foods such as pasta, cooking oil and maize flour, operating successfully under the dire circumstances of the country’s economic, social and political crisis. It has endured much criticism from the government and followers of the late President Hugo Chávez but enjoys widespread popularity for its resilience under pressure.
DRIVERS OF CHANGE
Some 450m of China’s population use Ant Financial’s mobile and internet financial products, which include Alibaba’s payments system, Alipay. With a 60 per cent-plus share of the country’s mobile payments market, Ant Financial has begun to expand across Asia.
One of the world’s largest natural gas and electricity suppliers, GDF Suez rebranded as Engie in 2015 and is committed to moving from fossil fuels to renewables. It has closed carbon-intensive plants and invested heavily in green energy.
The US company devotes itself to sequencing the human genome and is building a database of a million genomes. The objective is the detection of diseases before they occur and greatly lengthened life expectancy.
The augmented reality app developer based in California launched the Pokémon Go mobile game in July. Customers flocked to buy it, spending $440m on purchases of the game within two months of its release.
Specialising in creating graphics processing units, the US computer chip maker operates in PC gaming and is expanding into artificial intelligence. It has launched the world’s first desktop-size “supercomputer” and a chip to enable autonomous driving.
France’s Air Liquide is a world leader in gas production and has partnered with Toyota to install charging stations across Europe for the Mirai fuel-cell car. It has developed technology to cut carbon emissions from its hydrogen output sharply.
The US company produces meat substitutes that have the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without the environmental damage of animal farming. Its plant-based burger was launched last year at restaurants in California and New York.
League Collegiate Outfitters
The company makes branded apparel for students at leading North American colleges. Factory production takes place in El Salvador, where the company employs former members of the country’s notorious criminal gangs and provides them with education.
The London-based company uses technology that allows it to grow fruit and vegetables in barren environments using only seawater and sun energy. Its Australian outback facility can produce 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year.
The Furniture Recycling Group
From Blackburn, Lancashire, in the north of England, the company dismantles mattresses into recyclable materials using a machine that completes the process in minutes, thus helping recycle the 160,000 tonnes of mattresses sent to landfill in the UK every year.
The Massachusetts company’s “emotion-sensing” technology identifies human reactions based on facial expression and other physical symptoms and is used for testing the effectiveness of advertising. The plan is to develop apps to help solve mental health problems.
Founded in 2014, the US ecommerce site targets cutting the cost of shopping online by such means as connecting consumers with sellers that are located conveniently for them. In August, Walmart acquired the company for $3.3bn.
Snap is the company responsible for Snapchat, the app used by people to send pictures and video messages to friends and followers. Snap’s initial public offering, which took place earlier this month, was one of the US market’s biggest tech listings.
The start-up, founded in New York in 2013, sells women’s underwear of its own design that can supplement or replace tampons or comparable products. Frank discussion of menstruation in its advertising has proved popular with customers.
The leading entertainment network in Arabic on YouTube, the company produces videos across its channels and markets opportunities within them to leading global brands. Its output has proved more popular with Saudi Arabia’s youth than terrestrial television.
The Israeli company analyses crop growth based on feedback from wireless sensors planted in fields, enabling farmers to calculate cost-effective places and times to irrigate. Benefits include improved yields and reduced water consumption.
The Swiss blockchain platform, and its cryptocurrency Ether, help provide the means for individuals and organisations to create “smart contracts” for such applications as fundraising, investment and self-regulating voting systems.
Based in Jerusalem, the company makes an artificial vision headset that gives the blind and visually impaired some of the benefits of sight. It employs computer vision to process text and images such as faces and street signs, reading and identifying them to the user via a tiny speaker positioned toward the ear.
The UK company aims to enable biological analysis of any living thing by anyone anywhere. It sells the world’s first nanopore DNA sequencer, which allows users to classify genes and can be used for a variety of research and commercial applications.
The UK company specialises in non-invasive tests for pregnant women, employing advanced DNA blood analysis to estimate genetic disease risk. It is developing its techniques to diagnose tumours using blood samples instead of biopsies.
Based in Hyderabad, India, the company makes packaging from agricultural waste and recycled paper. Its policy is to enable people with disabilities to integrate into the workforce: some 70 per cent of its employees have a disability.
From Bangalore, the Indian producer of traditionally home-made soft drinks uses natural ingredients with distinctive regional flavours. Its Paper Boat Drinks brand is proving adept at taking on the multinationals in its home market.
The world’s largest online distributor of African film and television content, Lagos-based iROKOtv has been called the “Netflix of Nigeria”. It has used recent funding to produce content through its in-house film studio, Rok Studios.
India’s largest digital goods and mobile commerce platform provides a simple way to manage money and purchase goods via smartphone. A Reserve Bank of India banking licence, granted last year, enables it to create a wide range of financial services and products.
The telecoms specialist, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, provides users with services such as the mobile payments platform M-Pesa. It has upgraded its network to include 4G coverage and offers innovative financial products.
The Singaporean company develops tidal-powered electricity turbines. It installs and operates the turbines for commercial-scale projects, such as the MeyGen energy hub in Scotland, and connected the project’s first 1.5MW turbine to the grid late last year.
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, the company designs and builds various types of small satellites. It produces off-the-shelf nanosatellites, as well as offering bespoke design, deployment and management services. It expanded into the US in 2016.
The online subscription service delivers boxes of snacks, containing, for example, nuts and dried fruit. Its automated system manages stock levels and customises boxes based on subscriber feedback. London-based, it sells to supermarkets and has expanded to the US.
The UK group produces quantum dots — microscopic crystals that emit light of various colours and are used by television and light manufacturers. With an EU ban on cadmium in electronic goods since 2006, Nanoco’s cadmium-free alternative gives it a competitive edge.
The Israeli company uses satellite data to monitor shipping movements. Collating some 100m data points a day, its platform can build detailed profiles of ships and their shipments. It analyses the data for a variety of commercial and government organisations.