Top 10 Most Influential Projects by Region

North America

MIP_Flag Most Influential Projects 2021
Stylized image of a bank front with columns
01
Sand Dollar
Finance | North America
The people and businesses of the Bahamas are spread across roughly 30 islands in the Caribbean—and the nation’s banking system is just as fractured as its geography. The Central Bank of the Bahamas came up with a future-focused solution, launching a four-year project to create and deploy a digital version of the Bahamian dollar. When the Sand Dollar debuted in October 2020, it became the world’s first government-backed blockchain-based digital currency. With Sand Dollar, citizens can receive and make payments electronically from a digital wallet using either their mobile phone or a physical payment card they can manage via kiosks across the country. The project also could unlock lessons learned for other countries testing digital currencies.
5th Most Influential Project of 2021
MIP_Flag Most Influential Projects 2021
New Kings of Leon album in the NFT format
02
"When You See Yourself" NFT
Entertainment | North America
Between pandemic-era tour cancelations and streaming services and recording companies keeping the lion’s share of profits, musical artists could use some new revenue streams. So when the internet started losing its mind over nonfungible tokens (NFTs), Kings of Leon didn’t miss a beat, partnering with NFT marketplace YellowHeart to become the first major musical act to offer an album in the format. The Kings of Leon project took on new dimensions in September: The crew of SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit, made the band’s “Time in Disguise” the first NFT song to be played in space and then auctioned off for charity.
8th Most Influential Project of 2021
MIP_Flag Most Influential Projects 2021
SpaceX crew
03
Crew-1 Mission
Space | North America
When the SpaceX Falcon Rocket propelled the company’s Crew Dragon capsule into orbit in November 2020, it marked the first mission that used a NASA-certified private spacecraft to send a full crew of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). For the first time, the U.S. space agency assigned much of the design, development and testing of human-rated spacecraft to the private sector. The SpaceX mission paves the way for more commercial flights carrying researchers, professional astronauts and eventually paying passengers into orbit—pointing to a future where human spaceflight is not only more affordable but also routine.
10th Most Influential Project of 2021
MIP_Flag Most Influential Projects 2021
Perlmutter is the world’s fastest artificial intelligence supercomputer
04
Perlmutter
Technology | North America
The project to build what’s billed as the world’s fastest artificial intelligence supercomputer just wrapped in May. And it’s already acing one of its first assignments: The super-speedy Perlmutter is helping create a 3D map of the visible universe—all 11 billion light-years of it—by processing data from the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, a kind of cosmic camera that can capture as many as 5,000 galaxies in a single exposure. The US$146 million project was a joint endeavor between the U.S. National Energy Research Scientific Computer Center, Nvidia and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
12th Most Influential Project of 2021
MIP_Flag Most Influential Projects 2021
Propel Cener Image 1
05
Propel Center
Education | North America
As protests for racial justice echoed around the world last year, Silicon Valley's biggest players vowed to increase the disturbingly low number of people of color in tech. In January, Apple took action, joining forces with energy company Southern Co. to build the Propel Center. Funded with US$25 million from each company, the project will deliver a first-of-its-kind 50,000-square-foot (4,645-square-meter) campus in the historic Atlanta University Center district as well as a digital learning platform for students and faculty at more than 100 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States.
26th Most Influential Project of 2021
06
Canada-Québec Operation High Speed
Government | North America
The Canada-Québec Operation High Speed project has an ultra-ambitious target to provide nearly 150,000 underserved homes with high-speed internet within 18 months. Announced in March, the CA$826.3 million megaproject is a collaboration between the Government of Canada, the Government of Québec and six internet service providers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said establishing the deadline of September 2022—and enforcing penalties—will help ensure the project’s success. It’s part of a national push to get 98 percent of Canadians connected to high-speed internet by 2026 and 100 percent by 2030.
Dev Degree
07
Dev Degree
Education | North America
The Canadian ecommerce company has earned a rep for helping even mom-and-pop shops easily set up shop virtually. Now Shopify is pushing beyond online storefronts with a modern take on apprenticeship programs—that also serve as a salve for the tech industry’s chronic talent crunch. Shopify’s remote Dev Degree program combines free online education—in partnership with U.S. nonprofit Make School—with hands-on paid work in software development. Roughly 90 percent of the inaugural class found full-time engineering roles before the program was even completed, and 100 percent had been hired in their field within six months.
Qaumajuq
08
Qaumajuq
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | North America
Winnipeg Art Gallery, one of Canada’s oldest civic art institutions, added a new Inuit art center in March. Qaumajuq simultaneously expanded the facility’s collection while also acknowledging and attempting to dismantle the colonial history of the artwork within its walls. Project owners say the gallery is “not only a building, it is a cultural venue for Inuit in Canada and a beacon of Inuit agency.” And they worked with local artists, Indigenous advisers and community stakeholders to ensure that ethos is reflected in the new structure. The glass lobby of Qaumajuq—which means “it is bright, it is lit” in Inuktitut—connects to the existing museum on all four floors. Inside are 14,000 pieces of Inuit art, including the largest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.
Portlands Bridge
09
Port Lands Bridges
Infrastructure
About a 20-minute walk from downtown Toronto, 290 hectares (717 acres) of land are in danger of flooding from the next big storm. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is working on a flood protection project that will naturalize the mouth of the waterway and connect it to Lake Ontario, creating over 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) of new river channel. But that means pedestrians, bikes, cars and light rail will need a way to cross. So U.K. studio Grimshaw and consulting engineers Entuitive and Schlaich Bergermann Partner designed an aesthetically unified family of three bridges (each twinned to make six total). The first was placed over a concrete-lined channel in November 2020, and in August and September, the second span of the second bridge—the longest of the bunch—was delivered by barge and then overland to a site that will become part of the naturalized river valley.
10
Dutchie Plus
Business Products & Services | North America
One of the largest and fastest-growing ecommerce solutions in the cannabis industry, Dutchie facilitates sales for more than 5,000 dispensaries across the United States and Canada. That covers 25 percent of all dispensary sales in the region and 10 percent of sales worldwide. In November 2020, the company unveiled Dutchie Plus, enterprise-level software that allows dispensaries to create customized online experiences for their customers, while it handles all the back-end logistics and security.