From reimagining education to fighting climate change, the Social Impact honorees are proof that the future is bright.
It goes without saying that this year was unlike any other on record. But through the gloom that has haunted this year, there has been some bright spots. Notably, the term “frontline worker” entered the public lexicon as the world realized how critical these individuals are in the world economy. But Forbes Under 30 Social Impact companies have been focusing on this underserved demographic for years, most notably reimagining how education can better fit their needs and provide upward mobility.
On the forefront of that effort is Joel Hellermark’s Stockholm-based Sana Labs. Education has been standardized for mass production, but that has left it unengaging and ineffective. So Hellermark has raised over $20 million for its AI-powered personalized workforce education platform that adapts to the needs of each individual. His work proved critical at the start of the pandemic when hospital workforces were stretched thin and nurses required upskilling. Within just 16 days, Sana Labs deployed Project Florence, a free education program for nurses to gain essential skills and concepts for providing intensive care to Covid-19 patients. The curriculum has trained over 80,000 workers in 2,000 hospitals across more than 70 countries.
The 2021 Forbes Under 30 Europe Social Impact list highlights Hellermark and 29 other up-and-coming superstars running purpose-driven companies. Critical in selecting them from the large pool of candidates were this year’s astute judges. Hult Prize Foundation founder Ahmad Ashkar has made a career out of spotting budding young entrepreneurs, running the largest student workforce of 30,000 individuals. Meanwhile, serial entrepreneur Alexandre Mars has fueled his business success into his non-profit Epic and blisce/, a venture firm for mission-driven companies. This year’s alumni judge was Konexio cofounder Jean Guo, a social startup that promotes the socioeconomic inclusion of vulnerable populations. Their combined decades of experience with impact-driven companies proved invaluable in identifying this year’s list.
In addition to education, sustainability was top of mind for this year’s listmakers. Isabella Palmgren is focusing on an oft overlooked contributor: your dirty laundry. Concerned by modern methods, the Sweden-based founder created Mimbox, a patented water recycling device that saves up to 90% of water and 30% of energy, in addition to stopping pesky microplastics from being released into the water system. She has some big names helping her bring it to market, having raised over $3 million from Climate KIC, Chalmers Ventures, GU Ventures and IKEA.
Former chef Daniel Pawson is creating a more sustainable world by concentrating on somewhere else: your pantry. He founded Sea Group to build products that turn discarded food items into tasty snacks. After noticing that salmon skins were frequently thrown out in his kitchen, he launched their flagship product Sea Chips. These tasty treats are made of nutrient-packed salmon skins and can be found at your local Whole Foods. He’s even made a snack for your pup: Sea Snax is a dog treat brand that uses salmon skins not up to snuff for their human counterparts.
These are just a few of the individuals you can find on this year’s list that are working to create a more equitable and sustainable world. The past year has proven there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that the world we re-enter post-pandemic will be better than the one we left behind. If the individuals of this year’s Social Impact list are any indication, we are well on our way to making that a reality.