14 Companies And Initiatives That Are Planning Furthest Into The Future

Google Earth booth at Google I/O

British consultancy Volans and advertising agency JWT just released The Future Quotient: 50 Stars in Seriously Long-term Innovation, which identifies the most future-ready companies, groups, individuals and initiatives in the world — including Google, China’s 5-Year Plan and the London 2012 Olympic Committee.

The list is based on a survey of 500 public, private and NGO leaders about who’s leading the charge in sustainability, innovation and social enterprise. We’ve highlighted 14 of the most future-ready companies and initiatives.

A beta version of the Future Quotient test was developed by and is publicly available online thanks to MindTime Technologies.

Institute for the Future

Silicon Valley non-profit Institute for the Future is best known for its continuous 10 Year Forecast Program.

IFTF analyses emerging dilemmas and global issues, such as health, technology and food security. It often addresses issues in unusual ways, such as through game-playing (e.g., The Future Is A High-Resolution Game).

Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the world's most valuable startups, breaking ground in the hospitality industry -- giving anyone with a room the opportunity to become a bed & breakfast.

At the rate it's been growing, Airbnb is expected to have more rooms available than the Hilton by 2012.

Gapminder

Gapminder was founded in 2005 by statistician Hans Rosling. It allows users to visualise information about the world's nations in a new and exciting way.

Gapminder has a wealth of indicators showing development -- such as life expectancy, GDP, infrastructure development and literacy rates -- and puts it in an animated map or graph for viewers. Its software, Trendanalyzer, was purchased by Google back in 2007.

Jeremy Grantham / GMO

Jeremy Grantham is the founder of asset management firm GMO and is considered one of the most influential fund managers.

Grantham is known for taking a very long-term look at his investment strategies, and for his philanthropic endeavours. He helped found the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, a research centre at the London School of Economics.

China's 5-Year Plan

China's 12th Five-Year Plan was announced in March 2011.

It prioritizes sustainable national growth by promoting equitable wealth distribution, improving infrastructure, better social safety nets, and reducing environmental impacts.

Siemens AG

Siemens was one of the first companies to turn its attention to the technological business of cities, engaging in programs to develop 'Smart Cities.'

Where many see theatrical fantasy, Siemens frequently sees the future. Siemens captured many of its visions and anticipated trends in the recent book 'Life in 2050.'

The Elders

The Elders is an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to help ease human suffering.

The Elders often work on deep-seated cultural issues such as ending child marriages and bringing together North and South Korea. There are currently 10 Elders, including Nobel Laureates Jimmy Carter, Martti Ahtisaari, and Desmond Tutu.

London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games 2012

London is doing everything possible to minimize its carbon footprint for the 2012 Olympic Games. The committee publicized a London 2012 Sustainability Plan.

Its plan focuses on five key areas of climate change, waste, biodiversity, inclusion, and healthy living for the games and London's population.

X Prize Foundation

The X Prize Foundation is tackling the world's 'Grand Challenges' by creating large-scale, high-profile competitions which promote investment in research and development on the issues.

X Prize's partners and sponsors include Cisco, Shell, Google, and Medco. Some of the challenges they address include lunar exploration and clean-up of oil spills in the sea.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates is known for Microsoft, but his philanthropic entity should also be recognised for its' over $25 billion in grants to help the U.S., global health, and global development.

The foundation's projects range from fighting HIV, polio, and malaria, to research into new toilets for impoverished third-world countries.

TED

TED is an organisation with a simple plan: spread ideas. It was established in 1984, but now that everything is online, it's reached millions of viewers around the world with its ideas.

By spreading and crowdsourcing through TEDx, TED has been able to translate its talks to as many as 30 different languages. TED captures the imagination of fans on a daily basis with its inspirational stories and revolutionary ideas.

Republic of Singapore

Singapore is the world's third-most densely-populated country -- with 22.5% GDP growth and only 1.9% unemployment.

The nation plans over extended lengths of time, even implementing cross-generational policies, such as a tax-efficient ways to save money for future generations. Singapore also invests in research and development of cutting edge industries like biotechnology and cleantech.

Google / Virgin / 100 Year Plan

In 2008, Google and Virgin partnered to form ProjectVirgle. This partnership was formed because the companies believe that environmental degradation and natural resource depletion will soon force us to Plan B: colonize Mars by 2108.

ProjectVirgle started as one of Google's famous April Fools hoaxes, but the program evolved into OpenVirgle and has become an open source for collaboration and consolidation concerning space travel and simulation.

Arab Spring

The series of protests by educated young people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Libya have become collectively known as the Arab Spring.

Although it's still unclear where these developing countries will go next, their victories against oppressive regimes have opened the door to new futures of freedom and sustainability.

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