Explore the full 2023 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 540 organizations that are reshaping industries and culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact across 54 categories, including business services, not-for-profit, workplace, and more.
There may be strength in numbers, but the companies in the Small & Mighty (10 employees and under) category demonstrate that even tiny teams of innovators can activate big change.
This year’s winners are addressing important needs across sectors, like improving healthcare experiences for both patients and professionals. One winner, Adyn, is a personalized birth control selection service using genetic and endocrine testing to help patients find the right medication. Another winner, CardMedic, offers digital flashcards for medical professionals to simplify healthcare questions and answers in clinical interactions.
Some of these small companies have been around for a few years, but this year they escalated their impact with new creative ideas. Pinna, for instance, launched its kid-centered audio streaming service in 2019 but this year introduced three new formats to help engage young listeners, like using their “yes” or “no” verbal answers to guide a podcast’s story.
Other winners are using their platforms and tools to support underrepresented groups. Global Disability Inclusion released its Amplify survey in September 2021 to help companies gauge the experiences of employees with disabilities. AsylumConnect, founded in 2014 to connect LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with verified resources, changed its name to InReach and expanded its services to include abortion care and trans housing for the broader LGBTQ+ community.
For bringing interactive audio entertainment to kids and encouraging creation
Finding entertainment avenues for children without using screens can prove a challenge for parents, but Pinna––an audio streaming service specifically for kids ages 3 to 12––doesn’t just provide original and inventive content; it encourages kids to participate and even become creators. Launched in 2019, Pinna brought three new inventive formats to its platform this year: a voice-enabled interactive podcast where kids can guide their own adventure; an interactive podcast series teaching kids how to make their own podcasts; and a Surprise Box feature providing daily, fresh content in short form. And kids are listening––in 2022, Pinna reports that subscribers spent an average of 59 minutes per listening session multiple times throughout the week.
For simplifying healthcare communication with digital flashcards
Miscommunications between medical professionals and patients can lead to serious errors, and personal protective equipment, while vital, adds to the barriers to communication. CardMedic is a multilingual communication app offering a library of scripts in the form of digital flashcards for clinicians and patients to use in clinical interactions, simplifying healthcare questions and answers. In 2022, CardMedic expanded, to include additional translation, sign language, dynamic speech, and read-aloud capabilities for users on smart phones, tablets, or desktop devices. In 2022, CardMedic reached 55,000 users and achieved 22,000 app downloads since its launch, and it is now being used by 20 hospitals across the U.K. and U.S., with one license and three pilots currently active in the U.S.
For giving schools insights into student mental health
The mental health crisis is hitting youth hard. In 2020, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for people from the ages of 10 to 14 and 25 to 34. While the American School Counselors Association recommends one counselor for every 250 students, the national reality is more than 415 students for each counselor. This puts schools in a crucial position to identify and intervene with issues; however, schools often lack the staff to support this need. Closegap is a nonprofit tech startup that offers a daily mental health check-in for K–12 students that is free and interactive, with prompts that ask students about their feelings, challenges, eating habits, sleeping habits, peer life, and more. With its newest premium product, Closegap Insights, it provides those takeaways at the school and district level with more analysis and thus more opportunities for actionable insights. For instance, administrators might identify a need for more mental health staff or a school-wide intervention. Thirty-five schools and districts signed contracts for Closegap Insights in 2022.
4. FRANKLIN JUNCTION
For helping restaurants work with food brands to become virtual food halls
Restaurants across the country are now doubling as virtual food halls through Franklin Junction’s host kitchen network and marketplace. It works like this: Host kitchens get a boost in revenue by utilizing their existing kitchen space, staff, and resources to offer popular menu items from brands like Nathan’s Famous, Hooters, Milk Bar, and Bennigan’s for takeout and delivery. In 2022, Franklin Junction introduced its consumer-facing platform, Deliverbee, giving diners the ability to get food from multiple concepts in a single delivery and transaction and earn rewards. The company opened 208 virtual brand storefronts and signed on 55 new host kitchens in 2022, tripling its growth rate of openings from 2021. Franklin Junction is delivering up to 25% more in incremental revenue to host kitchens, while bringing popular brands closer to eager audience
5. GLOBAL DISABILITY INCLUSION
For expanding diversity efforts to include people with disabilities
Global Disability Inclusion is a consulting firm that helps companies, universities, and foundations include disability in their diversity efforts. In September 2021, the firm released Amplify, a unique climate and culture survey that focuses on the experiences of employees with disabilities that asks questions about accommodations, support, disability disclosure, and more. The firm reports that a handful of companies have used the service, with more expected in 2023. In 2022, Global Disability developed content for the SHRM Foundation’s Employing Abilities at Work Certificate, a tool to help any HR professional or leader hire and maintain employees with disabilities. Its 2022 work overall helped 400 people with disabilities find jobs, with an 83% retention rate.
For connecting the LGBTQ+ community with resources in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ policies
InReach, which was founded in 2014 as AsylumConnect and launched its app in 2016 to connect LGBTQ+ asylum seekers with verified resources, rebranded and expanded its services this year to become InReach. The nonprofit organization now connects the broader LGBTQ+ community with an even wider array of verified service types, including abortion care, trans housing, and support for conversion therapy survivors. The InReach App had 50% of its overall sessions in 2022 since launching in 2016, equating to more than 260,000 sessions. In Florida, where the “Don’t Say Gay” law passed, user sessions reached over 2,600 in 2022, compared to 260 sessions in 2021. With its rebrand, InReach is meeting evolving needs and pressures facing the LGBTQ+ community.
For helping people select the right birth control option for them
With nearly 200 types of birth control options available—and various potential side effects for each—patients often resort to a trial-and-error method to find the right one, with some encountering negative effects along the way. Founded in 2019, Adyn offers a personalized birth control selection service via a virtual-care visit with a licensed medical provider. In May 2022, the company introduced genetic and endocrine testing, bringing a precision medicine approach to the process. The company generates all biological data in CLIA-certified labs, and the Birth Control Test detects predispositions to blood clots and depression, two dangerous side effects. In Adyn’s initial population, it identified genetic risk for blood clotting in 7.5% of that group. This, along with the patient’s hormone levels and other health information, leads to insights that can inform prescriptions. Adyn also provides mail order delivery of these pharmaceuticals. Since Adyn launched the birth control test, customers in 43 states have used it.
For developing sustainable infrastructure technology for the United States Department of Defense
NecoTech is on a mission to transform infrastructure repair and construction methodologies while reducing waste and the need for human labor, particularly for the United States Department of Defense. In 2022, necoTECH began piloting its rapid asphalt repair system, called “Hot Patch on Demand” (HOTPOD), with the U.S. Air Force for deployment in emergency circumstances. Testing revealed that this solution can withstand 800 times more aircraft traffic than a traditional cold patch, heat 35 times faster than hot-mix asphalt (HMA) methods, and offer a four times longer repair season in cold regions compared to HMA plants. Over the past two-and-a-half years, necoTECH has won 10 U.S. Air Force contracts and grown revenue some 300%.
For helping utility companies invest in innovation
With slashed research and development budgets hitting utility companies especially hard, InnovationForce stepped forward in 2022 to connect companies with outside resources and prototype ideas and find innovative solutions for grid modernization. InnovationForce delivered its first product, the Connected Utility program, to Portland General Electric (PGE) in 2022, employing an extensive-use case library, predictive intelligence, and machine learning to experiment with prototypes in 90-day sprints. In doing so, it ultimately discovered that a 5G solution from a startup had the potential to save PGE $340 million. PGE now plans to invest that saved money to enhance its decarbonization strategy. In addition, InnovationForce is being used by Scottish Power in the U.K., and it is also partnering with Electric Power Research Institute to bring the Connected Utility to its member utilities.
10. RIND SNACKS
For upcycling fruit rinds to make a common snack healthier
Rind Snacks uses fruit rinds—which are often discarded even though they are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants—to make fruit snacks. The company upcycles rinds that would have otherwise gone in landfills, reducing food waste. In 2022, the five-year-old company expanded its retail footprint to more than 6,500 points of distribution, including Kroger, Walmart, and CVS as well as adding its first Costco region, bringing Rind’s total retail locations to 10,000. It also more than tripled its revenue and prevented over 1 million pounds of food waste this year alone.