Five Innovative Companies that are transforming the Developing World


Innovation is often cited as a key ingredient for success in business. While there are many new patents, ideas and inventions every year, innovation is taking these and making them usable for industry and consumers, a process which is often much more difficult than people realise, as consumers do not like radically new products or services, even if there is a seemingly obvious benefit. So launching a new concept or product is a fine art, below I take a brief look at five companies and one institution that are transforming the developing world.

Innovation Works

This Beijing headquartered firm funds Chinese tech start-ups and coaches them to develop and execute their businesses. This hands-on approach is moulding companies such as China App and PaPa – which are at the forefront of the Chinese tech industry. Innovation Works assists companies like these with many functions of their business such as user experience, marketing, legal, recruitment and government relations with the aim of creating a tech/entrepreneurial eco-system. The future success of this company and its protégées – will be critical to China’s chances of matching Silicon Valley and its ability to consistently produce tech companies like Facebook and Apple that can compete globally.

Indian Health Centres – Narayana Hrudayalaya

Narayana Hrudayalaya health centres have brought a low cost revolution to India’s healthcare system, by ruthlessly focusing on efficiency and operating practices, the hospitals can deliver open heart surgery for $2000 a shot, a third of the cost in other parts of India and a fraction of the cost in the West. Surgeons focus on operations and pass all their paperwork onto backroom staff. Poor patients can buy insurance for 22 cents per month, because they are cross-subsidised by richer customers. The founder Devi Shetty was inspired to start the hospital after visiting Mother Teresa; but his business model was inspired by Wal Mart. Identifying and implementing cost savings at every opportunity, the group plans to expand across the Sub-Continent, bringing quality healthcare to the masses.

Adani Group

Adani Group has been involved in coal, both trading and running power stations in India for a number of years. The company has strong connections to Indonesia, in particular Wilmar-International, a leading agribusiness company with whom they have produced India’s biggest line of edible oils. But now the company have taken a new direction, investing heavily in the renewable sector to create India’s largest solar plant in Gujarat, which will produce 40 MW of power, eventually increasing to 100 MW. The wider picture is India’s growing energy needs which can only be met by importing more coal and oil or investing more in solar and nuclear power as well as energy efficiency measures. Adani Group could well be a bellwether for the future of Indian energy as a whole, a successful solar plant could kickstart other projects, but its failure could leave India facing an expensive import bill from the Middle East.

 Bug Agentes Biologicos

As befitting a company located in agricultural superpower; Bug Agentes Biologicos produces a pesticide with a difference. Instead of releasing a harmful chemical, wasps are carefully released from an aeroplane, which then kills the bugs and larvae that damage the soy crop. This environmentally friendly way of cutting down on agricultural waste could prevent billions of Brazilian Reals worth of pesticides being used across the country, helping the country’s environment as well as its farmers.

And one innovation from California which could be important for poorer consumers……

Glow in the dark plants

The Singularity University is based in Silicon Valley, but its biggest impact could well be in the developing world. The University was the brainchild of Dr Peter Diamandis and Dr Ray Kurzweil and it is dedicated to using new technologies to address humanity’s biggest problems. One project aims to develop glow in the dark plants, which will provide lighting with no C02 emissions or electricity use. If successfully executed, this project could potentially reduce energy costs for poor consumers all over the world. Alternatively it could just end up being a novelty item for shoppers in the US.

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