After a five-week shutdown, Volkswagen reopened the world’s largest auto plant, creating a coronavirus roadmap for its company and the automotive industry. The German automaker developed walkway diversions, distance markers on floors and Plexiglas partitions to promote social distancing among the 63,000 workers. The project plan, published on Volkswagen’s website, was downloaded more than 120,000 times by suppliers and other companies across the globe.
5th Most Influential Project of 2020
Working in partnership with environmental activist group Global Optimism, Amazon signed a pledge to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement 10 years early—achieving net zero by 2040. Amazon’s first step: ordering 100,000 electric delivery vehicles and pledging to invest US$100 million in reforestation efforts. Then in June, the e-commerce giant announced a US$2 billion fund to back visionary companies building products and services to help decarbonize the planet.
A couple of months after COVID made distributed teams de rigueur, CEO Jack Dorsey declared that employees at his two companies, Twitter and Square, could continue working from home “forever.” As a legit tech titan, Dorsey redefined the future of work at his companies—and across the business spectrum.
As the pandemic truly took hold in the United States, it looked like ventilators might be in short supply. As part of a US$490 million contract with the U.S. government, General Motors partnered with Ventec Life Systems, a medical device startup in Seattle, Washington, USA, to mass-produce critical care ventilators at the auto giant’s manufacturing plant in Kokomo, Indiana. Within a month of the project’s launch, the first batch of machines was delivered to hospitals in April.
Nearly a decade after it entered the online healthcare marketplace, GoodRx expanded patient access to telehealth—and just in time. Launched in September 2019, GoodRx Care allows U.S. patients with or without insurance to see a board-certified doctor for only US$20 via phone or video call. In a nod to the time, the platform currently offers free COVID-19 assessments.
Looking to make its supply chain more sustainable, Anheuser-Busch partnered with U.S. agtech startup Indigo Ag to revamp the megabrewer’s rice production process. The new system uses less nitrogen and water, and emits less greenhouse gases than traditional farming methods. Since the project was launched in 2019, the process is now used by 29 growers on land spanning 11,000 acres (4,452 hectares).
Indonesia’s so-called super-app Gojek got even bigger. By expanding its ride-hailing and other services into Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines—and acquiring a Philippine fintech company—Gojek has positioned itself as a major player across Southeast Asia. Investments from tech giants Facebook and PayPal, announced in June, have buoyed fundraising that’s reportedly valued the company at US$10 billion. That’s a notable achievement for a company that started as a call center for people to order an ojek by phone.
U.K. eco-luxe designer Stella McCartney is testing out a new tool from Google Cloud that uses data analytics and machine learning to give brands a more comprehensive view of their supply chain. For sustainability-driven McCartney, it’s an opportunity to lead the notoriously wasteful fashion industry in better measuring the impacts of its raw material sourcing on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water scarcity.
Spirits maker Bacardi Corp. partnered with Olein Refinery to revamp a distillery in Cataño, Puerto Rico so it could supply the ethanol needed to produce free bottles of hand sanitizer for local communities. Eight of Bacardi’s manufacturing sites in the United States, Mexico, France, England, Italy and Scotland then joined the cause, with a goal of producing 237,000 gallons (900,000 liters) of hand sanitizer.
BoKlok keeps moving the needle for affordable housing solutions. The company run by furniture retailer Ikea and Swedish construction company Skanska got approval in June to bring 173 low-cost, sustainable prefab homes to Bristol, England. As BoKlok’s first project outside Scandinavia, the project will provide units for public housing and for the private market.