Fortune’s newest checklist celebrates the startups tackling society’s giant issues

Good morning.

This morning, Fortune is launching an exciting new list—the Impact 20—that shows how profit and purpose can be harnessed into a powerful combination. Like our Change the World list, the Impact 20 focuses on companies making measurable progress addressing social issues as part of their core strategy. While Change the World focuses primarily on large companies, the Impact 20 celebrates venture- and private-equity-backed startups tackling some of society’s most vexing problems.

This inspiring list is worth spending some time with, and I don’t want to be the spoiler. But a couple of themes clearly emerge.

First, education and upskilling figure large on the list. The pandemic has both underscored the weakness of many existing online education programs, and also intensified the need for upskilling by accelerating technological and digital change. So it’s good to see some creative startups focused on what’s a rapidly growing problem. A shout out to Tom Davidson, CEO of EverFi and a member of the Fortune CEO Initiative, for making the Impact 20.

AI and robotics are also, not surprisingly, big themes for the socially-focused startup crowd this year. So is the environment. Amp Robotics is training robots to sort through trash and separate recyclables. Another winner, TreeDots, is helping reduce food waste in Southeast Asia by enabling suppliers to unload excess inventory to grocers and consumers at a discount—addressing hunger and reducing methane emissions at the same time.

Kudos to Fortune editor Matt Heimer who oversaw the rigorous vetting that led to this new list. And thanks to TPG for sponsoring. TPG played no role in the selection process, but a few companies backed by its Rise Fund earned places on the list.

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At Fortune, we strongly believe that focusing the power of capitalism on social problems has a big payoff—for both investors and society. We are glad to see so many entrepreneurs proving us right!

More news below.

Alan Murray

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