23 Ways Capitalism is Saving the World

Doing good, and turning a profit

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Poverty. Illiteracy. Depleting energy resources. Some of the world’s biggest problems seem insurmountable—but not to the growing number of innovative companies that are tackling these issues and finding promising ways to solve them. From Coca-Cola’s portable water purification system to the Toronto-based startup that’s pioneering new ways to ship emergency supplies to remote corners of the globe, the world of business is building a brighter future—for everyone.

Here are a selection of our favourite companies and entrepreneurs that are saving the world (and making a buck doing it).


1. Hitting drug-resistant bacteria with a one-two punch

The Problem: Deadly bacteria have become resistant to drugs

The Solution: Destroy the bugs’ own defence systems before going in for the kill

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2. Fighting food fraud with a beer-tasting robot

The Problem: Humans aren’t reliable taste-testers

The Solution: Give the job to a robot instead

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3. Helping the visually impaired see again with digital specs

The Problem: Our aging population needs help with declining sight

The Solution: Create glasses so good they restore sight to the blind

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4. Reducing the cost of food in the world’s slums

The Problem: The world’s poor pay too much for food

The Solution: Boost their buying power with a text-message-based app

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5. Saving lives with flexible, wearable electronics

The Problem: Our aging population needs help with declining sight

The Solution: Create glasses so good they restore sight to the blind

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6. Saving trees by making paper out of wheat

The Problem: Making paper destroys forests and makes Woody Harrelson unhappy

The Solution: Use the chaff left behind after harvesting wheat instead

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7. Preventing water-borne illness with a solar-powered toilet

The Problem: Millions die as a result of poor sanitation

The Solution: A waste-zapping toilet that reduces the toll

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8. Boosting vaccination rates with a painless needle

The Problem: People hate getting needles (and they injure health care workers too)

The Solution: Flush injections directly into the skin

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9. Dreaming of faster, cheaper public transit

The Problem: North America needs better, faster transit

The Solution: Listen to Tesla CEO Elon Musk and build the hyperloop

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10. Empowering employees by getting rid of bosses

The Problem: Bosses suck

The Solution: Create an org structure that doesn’t need them

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11. Building a better-fitting bra

The Problem: 80% of all women wear ill-fitting bras

The Solution: Develop a better sizing system

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12. Reinventing education in poor countries

The Problem: Education systems in poor countries are patchy and unreliable

The Solution: Create prefab schools that run like coffee franchises

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13. Building planes that don’t need a runway

The Problem: Conventional cargo planes can’t reach many remote areas

The Solution: Eliminate the need for runways (and fuel)

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14. Mixing drinks that make eating unnecessary

The Problem: Earth’s growing population needs fast, nutritious food

The Solution: Deliver it in a glass

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15. Stabilizing gunshot wounds with tiny sponges

The Problem: Gunshot victims bleed fast on the battlefield

The Solution: Shoot back (with a syringe full of sponges)

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16. Stopping the spread of hospital-borne superbugs

The Problem: Superbugs are a growing risk in hospitals

The Solution: Vaporize them by sterilizing whole rooms in one go

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17. Foiling counterfeiters with butterfly-inspired tech

The Problem: Holograms are becoming easier to fake

The Solution: Create a look-alike technology with wild new properties

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18. Providing clean water anywhere on earth

The Problem: Billions need clean water

The Solution: Develop an H2O purifier in a box and get Coca-Cola to distribute it

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19. Reinventing the cardboard box

The Problem: Conventional packing containers are wasteful and hard to open

The Solution: A pop-up box that doesn’t need tape and assembles in seconds

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20. Treating malaria at the source

The Problem: Malaria-bearing mosquitos are tough to wipe out

The Solution: Kill the disease, not the insect

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21. Turning greenhouse gases into useful algae

The Problem: Oilsands energy producers need to cut greenhouse gas emissions

The Solution: Use the gas to grow algae that can make all sorts of new things

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22. Building houses out of mushrooms

The Problem: Conventional building materials aren’t environmentally sustainable

The Solution: Make them out of mushrooms that you can compost when you’re done

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23. Unlocking the secrets of creamier Camembert

The Problem: The world needs better cheese

The Solution: Reverse-engineer the biochemistry of rinds to produce tastier results

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