Press Release

Johns Hopkins APL Honored Twice on Fast Company’s 2024 ‘Most Innovative Companies’ List

Two breakthrough technologies from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, have received Most Innovative Companies awards from Fast Company. APL was ranked No. 6 in the Rapid Response category for biothreat characterization technology and No. 10 in the Applied Artificial Intelligence (AI) category for its use of AI to identify climate tipping points. APL was one of only five companies worldwide, along with Apple, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, to earn a spot on multiple lists. In total, 606 companies were honored.

“Our unwavering focus on game-changing research and development enables our teams to deliver valuable new tools like these that directly enhance global health and climate security,” said APL Director Ralph Semmel. “The Lab is dedicated to taking bold risks as we tackle the critical challenges facing our nation, and we are honored that not one but two of our contributions have been named to this list.”

In the Rapid Response category, APL was recognized for its work creating technology that enabled an accelerated health response to a potential biothreat in Cambodia from avian flu. As APL looks to the future of genomic surveillance, the team is using next-generation analytical tools and computational models to understand potential evolutionary trajectories of viruses. This work adds to a toolkit of existing approaches that can be used to safely characterize a pathogen’s genetic changes and their potential impact on humans and other animals.

For the Applied AI category, the Laboratory was selected for its work utilizing AI to better understand and predict climate tipping points. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded project, known as the Physics-informed AI Climate Model Agent Neuro-symbolic Simulator (PACMANS) for Tipping Point Discovery, not only can predict what environmental changes could lead to a climate system “tipping” into a different state, but also can identify the warning signs faster than any human. This research effort is one of many projects at the Laboratory incorporating machine learning, autonomy, computer vision and other AI techniques.

This is APL’s fifth appearance on a Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list. The Lab made the list in 2016 for DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, as well as in 2018, 2020 and 2022 for Parker Solar Probe, Dragonfly and the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), respectively.

Featured Mission Areas