The 20 Most Socially Disruptive Startups in the World

In Memory of a special friend, Nick Raynes , New Yorker, Movie Producer and social impact investor who passed away recently at the age 32

The term “Disruption” has been a buzzword for over a decade. Every entrepreneur seems to claim to be a disruptor, and every new business is set to turn an industry on its ear. Logic tells us that there is no way this is true. I did a deep dive, and through my research I have put together what I believe is a list of the 20 most Socially Disruptive startups on planet earth.

I have broken our list into to 6 categories. We start with Digital Health. As society becomes more and more aware of the impact of the environment, food, and stress on their lives, disruptors have been creating technologies to aid humans in their quest for healthy lives.

Digital Health

1. Kaia App

Location: Munich

Leadership: Konstantin Mehl Founder, CEO

Mode of Disruption: AI for the Treatment of Lower Back Pain

Social Impact: Clinical studies on the app show use results in reduction of lower back pain by 40%.

2. Auris Health

Location: Redwood City, CA

Leadership: Fred Moll, M.D. Founder, CEO

Mode of Disruption: A surgical robot that performs endoscopic procedures.

Social Impact: To enable more accurate diagnosis, and eventually treatment, of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung.

3. BenevolentAI

Location: London

Leadership: Ken Mulvany, Founder

Mode of Disruption: Per their website they’ve created a “data and technology-driven approach to drug development.”

Social Impact: Biomedical knowledge graph and a system that learns through each experimental loop in the drug discovery and development process.

Emotional Intelligence

Our second category is Emotional Intelligence. What disruptors have been striving for is the harmony of man and artificial intelligence. In their quests for new synchronicity of man and machine, they are driving the cognitive ability of humans to heights previously deemed science fiction.

4. CognitiveScale

Location: Austin, TX

Leadership: Matt Sanchez, Founder, CTO, Manoj Saxena, Chairman

Mode of Disruption: Use machines to augment human intelligence and drive us the greatest heights in the history of humankind.

Social Impact: Team AI and humans, instead of us being somewhat at odds.

5. Soul Machines

Location: New Zealand

Leadership: Mark Sagar, Co-Founder, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Created a digital nervous system to change how humans and machines interact.

Social Impact: They have a vision “to humanize artificial intelligence to better humanity.” Their crowning achievement thus far, emotionally responsive artificial humans

6. Mythic -AI Chips

Location: Redwood City, CA, Austin, TX

Leadership: Mike Henry, Founder CEO. Dave Fick, Founder CTO.

Mode of Disruption: Create a world where every device is intelligent and equipped with human like senses and a high level understanding of its surrounding environment.

Social Impact: Incorporate this AI into any device having to do with health or fitness. Data collected can be used by medical specialists to monitor and diagnose illness and suggest preventative treatment.

Regenerative Medicine

The third stop on our list is Regenerative Medicine. Health and wellness is a focus of seemingly endless entrepreneurs and technologists. As humans live longer and longer, the need for new and advance medical care is a direct consequence.

7. Prellis Biologics

Location: San Francisco

Leadership: Melanie Matheu, PhD, Founder, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Created a holographic laser printing technology that makes production of lab-grown human organs possible.

Social Impact: Soon we can 3D print capillaries for production of human tissues and organs.

8. BlueRock

Location: Cambridge, MA

Leadership: Emile Nuwaysir, Ph.D. President, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Replace dead cells with new ones that restore biological function back to what it was before the loss.

Social Impact: Per their website they are “initially targeting severe brain and heart conditions, two areas of critical unmet medical need with blockbuster potential.”

9. Ginkgo Bioworks

Location: Boston

Leadership: Founders- Jason Kelly, Reshma Shetty, Barry Canton, Austin Che, Tom Knight

Mode of Disruption: Designs and prints DNA

Social Impact: They build made-to-order microbes for customers in markets such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, food, enzymes.

10. Neuros

Location: Willoughby Hills, OH

Leadership: Tom Wilder, President, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Electrical nerve block.

Social Impact: Treat chronic pain such as post-amputation pain, post surgical pain, and even migraines.

11. Synchon

Location: Melbourne

Leadership: Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, CEO, Founder

Mode of Disruption: Your brain communicating directly with a computer

Social Impact: Per their website their implantable brain device that can interpret signals from the brain for patients with paralysis.

12. Neuropace

Location: Mountain View, CA

Leadership: Frank Fischer, CEO, Board Member

Mode of Disruption: Neurospace is bridging the gap between you, your brain, your home, and your doctor.

Social Impact: An RNS® System with an implantable neurostimulator connected to leads that are placed in up to two seizure onset areas.

Synthetic Agriculture Technology

Synthetic Agriculture Technology is a tech that may in fact have the most direct impact on society worldwide. With the ability to produce food in any environment, we can aid those in dire need, and prepare the industrialized world for further shifts in climate, or possible cataclysms.

13. Indigo

Location: Boston

Leadership: David Perry, President, CEO, Director. Geoffrey von Maltzahn, PhD

Co-Founder, CIO

Mode of Disruption: Creating seed treatments that optimize the health of a plant to increase its yield.

Social Impact: Bringing naturally derived products to market that allow for crops to better withstand environmental stress.

14. Benson Hill Crop

Location: St Louis, Missouri

Leadership: Matthew Crisp, President, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Create a cognitive engine that provides decision support to accelerate crop improvement and enhance the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production.

Social Impact: Empower the agricultural community through use of tech to enhance viability, sustainability, and potential of crops worldwide.

15. MyCrop Technologies

Location: Gujarat, India

Leadership: Deepak Pareek , CEO, Co-Founder

Mode of Disruption: Give access to a collaborative platform that uses machine learning to provide real-time support for farmers.

Social Impact: Through big data, sensors, drones and more, tech and intelligent algorithms process data and direct farmers to their “next step” to increase productivity and profitability.

16. Aibono

Location: Bangalore, India

Leadership: Vivek Rajkumar, Founder

Mode of Disruption: Provide real-time agriculture services to fruit and vegetable growers, no matter the growing season.

Social Impact: Farmers can leverage data acquired to better inform decisions from potential yield to rotation.

Autonomous Logistics

A direct offshoot of Synthetic Agriculture Technology is Autonomous Logistics. If we can create food in any environment for anyone, how do we supply those in the most inaccessible regions of the globe? This answer, with it’s incalculable importance, is Autonomous Logistics

17. Zipline International

Location: San Francisco

Leadership: Keenan Wyrobek, Founder, CTO, Keller Rinaudo, Founder, CEO

Mode of Disruption: Drone service delivering medicine and blood supplies to the world’s most difficult-to-reach places.

Social Impact: Operating a blood delivery service in Rwanda since October 2016. It now transports 20% of the nation’s blood supply.

18. Flirtey

Location: Reno, NV

Leadership: Ahmed Haider, Director, Co-Founder, Matthew Sweeny, CEO, Co-Founder,

Mode of Disruption: Drone delivery service focusing on rural areas

Social Impact: Work with ambulances to provide care and medicine to difficult to reach healthcare clinics.

Public Safety

Finally, we come to Public Safety. The news is filled everyday with stories of tragedy and hopelessness. So, in the new age of weaponry and technology, how do we keep each other safe? These are the questions being addressed by the disruptors in the Public Safety realm.

19. Malong Technologies

Location: Shenzhen, Guangdong

Leadership: Dinglong Huang CEO and Co-Founder, Matt Scott CTO and Co-Founder

Mode of Disruption: Develop machines to see objects at high, microscopic, and X-ray levels.

Social Impact: Their AI initiatives are expected to help its customers achieve better safety, quality, and efficiencies.

20. UVeye

Location: New York, NY

Leadership: Amir Hever, CEO & Co-Founder, Ohad Hever, COO & Co-Founder

Mode of Disruption: Machine learning for instantaneous vehicle inspection.

Social Impact: Scan and detect anomalies or foreign objects by the Homeland Security Market.

Mark Minevich is the principal founder of Going Global Ventures, specializing n the fields of digitization and artificial intelligence. He is also digital fellow and advisor to the CEO of IPsoft Inc., a leader in digital labor. Minevich is a senior advisor on global innovation and technology for UN–UNOPS and a charter member of the B20’s Digital Task Force, as an expert in digitization, advanced autonomous systems and the future of AI. He is also currently a senior fellow of the U.S. Council of Competitiveness in Washington and executive chair for the AI Pioneers Forum.

As Featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Observer, Information Week.