6 Innovative Organizations Moving Science & Technology Forward

From climate change to infectious disease, the complex issues facing contemporary society test the limits of human ingenuity. Organizations around the world are responding by producing technological innovations, conducting groundbreaking research, or using education and outreach to encourage creative thinking. Listed here, in no particular order, are some of the groups helping to advance humankind's knowledge and capabilities.

First up at #1 is the Barrett Lab, working out of the Redpath Museum and Department of Biology at McGill University. Led by Rowan Barrett, the school's Canada Research Chair of Biodiversity Science, the lab investigates how organisms respond to rapid environmental change. Combining field research with genomics and computational biology, the group investigates how genetic variation contributes to survival in species including deer mice and stickleback fish.

"The lab investigates how organisms respond to rapid environmental change."

The Lab has produced numerous publications, from experimental demonstrations of natural selection in action, to examinations of the effects of predator-prey relationships on ecosystem recovery. The organization's work has been highlighted in the popular scientific press, and its members conduct outreach to promote interest in science among the general public.

Next in our overview at #2 is Algorithmia, which automates deployment of machine learning capability, allowing clients to focus on building and testing models. Its platform provides a single central location in which users can create purpose-built data analysis tools. The program provides access controls and governance features that enable clients to secure and audit models in production.

Algorithmia's Serverless AI Layer can run models, functions, and algorithms in most popular programming languages, and transform them into API endpoints ready for use. The company's clients range from Toyota to the United Nations, and its architecture is used for tasks like automating order fulfillment for retailers and suppliers. Its Learning Center provides in-depth lessons on crafting machine learning tools using its platform, and developers can build novel algorithms for its AI Marketplace.

At #3 is OpenBiome, a nonprofit stool bank serving as a resource for fecal microbiota transplantation, to help patients suffering from an imbalance of gut bacteria. This group collects stool from donors following a rigorous health screening, making it available for patients with cases of Clostridium difficile that antibiotics have failed to treat. The organization engages in educational outreach to spread awareness of the benefits of FMT, and its Patient Assistance Program helps cover the cost of treatment for those in need.

In partnership with Finch Therapeutics Group, OpenBiome works to secure wider FDA approval for microbiome-based treatments. The organization also facilitates research on the ecology of the human digestive system, providing materials and technical input for numerous clinical trials, and for investigators working to create biological tools from fecal bacteria. Its Global Health Microbiome Initiative examines the role of gut organisms in problems such as malnutrition.

At #4 we have Creative Destruction Lab, a nonprofit organization that assists entrepreneurs with promising technology in developing and scaling their businesses. Participants in the program learn from experienced mentors, network with interested investors, and receive technical feedback from scientific experts. The group operates specialized streams for solutions in fields like energy, quantum computing, and supply chain management.

Creative Destruction Lab has helped to develop companies like the smart robotics firm Advanced Intelligent Systems and the stroke recovery platform Cognivive. Many of its development streams help build solutions for climate change, public health challenges, or other global issues. The group's High School Girls Program provides experiential opportunities for young women interested in scientific entrepreneurship, and the organization hosts an annual conference exploring the future of artificial intelligence.

#5 on our list is Science Oxford, the public face of The Oxford Trust, a UK nonprofit which promotes and facilitates engagement with STEM fields of study. This organization offers interactive workshops letting students explore science and engineering topics, and loans ready-made activity kits to schools. Educators can take advantage of professional development courses on techniques for teaching STEM concepts.

Science Oxford programs for secondary school students include Career Days and Insight Weeks, in which participants learn from local STEM employers, as well as work experience opportunities during the summer holidays. Its Young Scientists of the Year celebration honors students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, and the Science Oxford Centre welcomes families for entertaining and educational activities.

We'll finish with #6, RE2 Robotics, a developer of intelligent mobile manipulation systems for use in a variety of complex environments. The company produces highly dexterous mechanical arms for robots, including both single and dual-arm options, and models designed for underwater applications. RE2 has developed technology for industries including energy and national defense, as well as collaborating with academic researchers to investigate challenges like touch feedback for automated systems.

The company seeks to advance the capabilities of artificial intelligence, creating systems such as perception software capable of tracking objects in complex outdoor lighting conditions and an imitative controller enabling machines to learn by watching the movements of human operators. The company explores the potential of robotics for improving workplace safety and productivity, creating innovations such as retrofit kits capable of temporarily converting vehicles into unmanned systems for hazardous work.