Innovation Team of the Year

Whether focused on microscopic computer chips or cement trucks full of concrete, these six teams stood out to Fast Company judges for devising innovative solutions to global problems.


Alaska Airlines

SeaTac, Washington

Seeking to streamline the information that flight dispatchers have to juggle, Alaska Airlines pilot and head of corporate development Pasha Saleh enlisted the help of Airspace Intelligence CEO Phillip Buckendorf. Their idea—to apply autonomous vehicle technology to planes—led to a new product, Flyways AI, which optimizes routes for weather conditions and traffic. AI-determined routes shorten flights, save fuel, and reduce carbon emissions.

[Illustration: Saiman Chow]



San Jose, California

The company’s Content Authenticity Initiative team has partnered with Twitter and the New York Times to combat online misinformation.


San Francisco, California

The classic digital credo of “move fast and break things” is not a compelling philosophy in the autonomous vehicle sector; Cruise’s developer-experience team aims to keep safety at the forefront as the company innovates.


Kingsport, Tennessee

A 24-year-old management trainee, Camiel Steffanie, was assigned to work with mid-career French employee Cedric Perben; their idea for recycling cosmetics packaging blossomed into a massive initiative that now aims to recycle 500 million pounds of waste plastic by 2030.


Zug, Switzerland

Last year, the company’s Mexican concrete team rolled out a new platform that connects construction teams with concrete plants and drivers to increase efficiency while reducing waste.


Armonk, New York

The IBM nanotechnology team’s breakthroughs are helping to ensure that compute capacity and speed will continue to keep pace with demand in the coming years.

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