Design and design thinking have become essential tools for social entrepreneurs. This years Innovation by Design Award finalists represent stirring responses to myriad challenges, from our ailing oceans to internet access in remote communities. Congratulations to all, and a special thank you to our esteemed judges: Edgar Arceneaux, cofounder of the Watts House Project; Sandy Chilewich, founder of Chilewich; Paula Scher, of Pentagram; and Lisa Williams, chief product officer of Patagonia. Finally, a sincere thank you to everyone who entered and supported Fast Company’s commitment to elevating the design profession.
If you're looking for more inspiring work, don't forget to check out the finalists in our other categories: Winners, 3D-Printing, City Solutions, Data Viz, Experience, Experimental, Fashion, Graphic Design, Health, Mobile Apps, Product Design, Smart Home, Social Good, Students, Web Design.
Creators: Boyan Slat and the staff and volunteers if The Ocean Cleanup
Scientists estimate that the the total amount of plastic product that has entered the ocean is in the range of 5.25 trillion pieces. Instead of going after all that plastic—which would take many thousands of years and billions of dollars to collect—The Ocean Cleanup uses long, ingeniously designed floating barriers to let the ocean currents concentrate the plastic itself.
Creators: Allen Dodgson Tan, John Wright, J. Kim Vandiver, Soh Gim Song, Doron Teh En-Tsien, Chia Wan Ling Gretchen
Firm: Golden West Humanitarian Foundation
Across geography and language barriers, bomb disposal technicians must all understand the same key concepts in order to do their job safely. The Advanced Ordnance Teaching Materials (AOTM) comprises 10 models made using consumer grade 3-D printers that teach technicians-in-training how to properly diffuse and dispose of bombs.
Creators: IDEO.org and American Refugee Committee
Client: American Refugee Committee
Twenty percent of children living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo don't live to see their fifth birthday because of highly preventable diseases like malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria. Asili is a provider of healthcare, clean water, and agriculture that aims to change that by using an innovative business model co-created by communities in the DRC.
Design Kit is an online learning platform for human-centered design geared toward leaders struggling with poverty in their communities. Through a series of seven videos and a selection of case studies, the kit teaches novices how an approach to design that focuses on empathy can produce innovative solutions to hard problems.
Creators: Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, Christopher Scovel, Adam Saltzman, David Saladik, Amie Shao, Kyle Digby, Robertho Jean Noel, Alix Joseph, and Benjamin Hartigan
Firm: MASS Design Group
Client: Les Centres GHESKIO
After the 2010 earthquake, cholera emerged in Haiti and ran rampant throughout the tent cities of Port-au-Prince. The first permanent cholera treatment center in the country, the CTC is designed not only to treat patients, but also to make it easy for workers to prevent the spread of the disease. Wastewater treatment capabilities are seamlessly blended with the functions of the building, in order to thwart recontamination of the water table.
Firm: Frog Design
Client: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
When disaster strikes, data is crucial to planning recovery efforts, but sharing information among disparate humanitarian organizations can be a logistical nightmare. Enter the Humanitarian Data Exchange, a digital platform that uses a clean user interface and meticulously coordinated data sets to make data easy to find, use, share, and analyze.
Creators: Carin Stimolo, Jenny Liang, Caitlin Toombs, Claudia McKay, Yanina Seltzer, Mario Ariza, Peter Gross, Wesley Kirinya
Client: Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
This campaign uses storytelling to make the concept of buying insurance accessible to low-income communities in Africa. Following a Choose Your Own Adventure story line, users send a text message to get to the next chapter of a telenovela-like tale. Each text sent incurs a fee that is then put toward their health insurance plan, providing a simple installment method for paying off insurance bills.
Creators: Jhpiego, Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering, Innovation, and Design, Clinvue
This enhanced protective suit is designed to do a better job than current garments at keeping health care workers from coming in contact with Ebola patients' contagious body fluids. It includes a clear visor incorporated into the suit and air vents in the hood for keeping cool in hot climates—and, most ingeniously, a single rear zipper that easily causes the suit to peel away, without the contaminated exterior ever touching the wearer's skin.
Creators: Geoff Baldwin, Dan Senatore, Anna Perrella, Syed Karim
Firm: Code and Theory
Despite how ubiquitous it is in the developed world, the Internet is still a scarce commodity in many parts of the world. Outernet is a new technology that would provide fast, free internet to isolated parts of the world via an incredibly durable satellite receiver engineered to fold like a vegetable steamer into a small footprint 14" in diameter.
Creators: Idit Yaniv, Eric Eriksson, Simon Bond, Jasmine Friedl, Cameron Wu, Luke Woods, Elizabeth Laraki, Anna Bloom, Elisabeth Carr, The Factory
In times of disaster, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and show their support. This simple tool uses notifications to make it easier to announce your own safety or check in with others who are near a natural disaster. A donation feature allows people to easily and quickly send money to those on the ground.