This year, the World Economic Forum has named 36 leading start-ups as its Technology Pioneers 2014.

New technologies and innovations are constantly changing and improving the way we do things and approach problems. Processes, institutions and industries that have been around and unchanged for decades are now being rethought and redesigned with the aid of technology.

Many of these adaptions and approaches are not being developed by large, established industry leaders but rather by their smaller, early-stage counterparts.

The class is particularly diverse, providing new solutions to a number of challenges, including technologies for a greener and more sustainable planet; the deployment of precise and targeted therapies in the treatment of cancer and other diseases; the rethinking and redesign of how we deliver education; a robotics renaissance; the creation of a more personalised Internet experience; and the initiation of a “sharing” economy, to name a few.

The Technology Pioneers for 2014 are (in alphabetical order): Adtelligence, Advantix Systems, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Airbnb, Alphabet Energy, AppNexus, BIND Therapeutics, bluebird bio, Bug Agentes, Biologicos, Codeacademy, Coursera, Cyberdyne, Data4,, D-Rev: Design Revolution, EcoNation, Foundation Medicine, GitHub, Jana, Kaggle, Kebony, Koemei, Lenddo, LiveU, Natera, Nest Labs, Oasys Water, OMC Power, Rethink Robotics, Second Sight Medical Products, Selecta Biosciences, SunPartner, SynTouch, TruTag Technologies, Viki and Witricity Corporation.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers programme recognises companies, normally in a start-up phase, from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies, and are set to have a significant impact on business and society.

Technology Pioneers must demonstrate visionary leadership and show signs of being long-standing market leaders – their technology must be proven. Each year the World Economic Forum chooses a select number of Technology Pioneers from hundreds of applicants.

Technology Pioneers are selected through a rigorous process. A selection committee – comprised of top technology and innovation experts, academics, venture capitalists as well as entrepreneurs – evaluates all candidates against the programme’s criteria before making its recommendation to the World Economic Forum.

Since 2000, more than 550 innovative companies from five continents have been selected as Technology Pioneers. Among them, the majority are still thriving independently while others have been acquired by industry leaders.