Challenging Innovation

sector - food & drink
sector - beauty
category - design
category - society
sector - media & technology
type - futures 100 innovators awards
Futures 100 Innovators Awards
Innovation isn’t just about change, as we sometimes believe; it can also be about making a difference. That much is clear when you look at our latest Futures 100 Innovators longlist on our trends and foresight platform LS:N Global.

There are lots of design schools, as Ritesh Gupta says, but how many are out there using fonts by people of colour, in a design school of colour, to recalibrate the world of design and colour in their own their eyes and image?

There’s retail, there’s unboxing, there’s circular fashion and mystery shopping, but thanks to Joe Wilkinson, Mario Maher and his new platform offer, Heat, there’s now circular retail that involves unboxing and mystery fashion brands and cult products. 

There are also crypto-clubs, DAO squads, and those in the know and the not-know when it comes to NFTs, but thanks to Deana Burke, another of our Futures 100 Innovators, there’s now a new Boys Club that’s shaking up the tech sector by building a feminist Web3 scene to bring more women and non-binary people into a space currently dominated by men.

In each case, our innovators aren’t just changing the consumer lifestyle marketplace with new products (that old-school definition of innovation), they’re challenging and disrupting it by flagging up the roles that gender, race, equity and inclusion play in shaping an innovation or defining its trajectory. 

This is hugely important when considering the role innovation plays in your organisation. For many of us, innovation is still too narrowly defined as a new method, idea or shift from the now that catapults us into the next – and one that is always about technology (another mobile app, anybody?) and building a better, shinier, more efficient tomorrow. 

But as entrepreneur, author and disruptor Margaret Heffernan tells it: ‘For good ideas and true innovation you need human interaction, conflict, argument and debate.’

And this, of course, has been part of the underlying criteria used by the LS:N Global team when selecting our Futures 100 Innovators to include innovators, disruptors, entrepreneurs and co-collaborators that embody challenge, conflict, argument and debate as a core part of their innovation DNA and journey.

Published by:

9 March 2022

Author: Martin Raymond

Image: Heat


Left: The Institute of Digital Fashion in collaboration with Richard Quinn and whisky label Royal Salute. Right: Ommy Akhe via Instagram.

Consider how Emma Rae Bruml’s work on everything from gender performativity to capitalism challenges the way we design and interact with technology; how Andrew Gurza’s life as a queer disabled man calls on us to debate accepted notions about sexuality, pleasure and disability; or how generational and industry conflicts between the old and new fashion avant garde has become the focus and work of the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF) co-founded by Leanne-Elliott Young and Cattytay.

As Leanne-Elliott Young puts it, the IoDF wants to ‘push technology as a solution to not just sell more clothes, but to disrupt the way the system concepts, produces, creates, broadcasts, educates and demands. IoDF is changing the system, asking questions and forging new solutions.’

So for our current crop of Futures 100 Innovators, innovation isn’t just about efficiency, value, effectiveness or staged improvements that are sustainable, but about values, difference, purpose, equity and continuous ongoing challenge to the status quo that embraces betterment, and vitally, embodies long term sustainability. Innovation in other words, as Scott Berkun, author of How Design Makes the World, defines it, as ‘significant positive change’.

I’ll go with that.

Submit your own nominees for the Awards via

Look out for our next longlist instalment on 24 March.

‘Innovation in other words, as Scott Berkun, author of How Design Makes the World, defines it, as ‘significant positive change’.’
Martin Raymond, co-founder, The Future Laboratory

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Want to find out more or nominate your own innovators?

In the first two instalments of our Futures 100 Innovators longlist, we get to know global disruptors and change-makers creating the future across 10 sectors.

Check out the names that have so far made the Futures 100 Innovators longlists for January and February, or to suggest your own names via email.

Discover our nominees