Grand Ideas (Credit: Alamy)

Introducing ‘Grand Ideas’ – a new special series

The 21st Century is continually throwing us new challenges and expecting us to adapt – but for every earth-shattering megatrend, there are dozens of genius solutions.

The 21st Century can sometimes feel a pretty scary place: rising oceans swallowing coastal cities; fresh threats of looming nuclear conflict; robots that are apparently going to steal all our jobs – and that’s just the half of it. We’ve arguably never faced more complex challenges, and the bad headlines seem unending.

And yet, at the same time, we’ve never lived in a time of such promise.

We know so much about the world – more now than any other time in human history. And we know what needs to get done to make sure humans thrive in the 21st Century – and well beyond.

That’s why, starting today, BBC Future Now is launching a new series called Grand Ideas: a special series that will cover dozens of ingenious inventions, organisations, and futuristic moonshots that aim to solve humanity’s newest, most pressing threats.


It’s a follow-up to our Grand Challenges series that ran earlier this year. In it, we laid out a slew of challenges that the 21st Century poses. The death of personal privacy. Crippling drug epidemics. Increasingly fragile democracy worldwide. The murky future of nuclear energy.

We also reached across the globe to assemble a panel of experts: scientists, technologists, CEOs and influencers, from Chelsea Clinton to Garry Kasparov, who told us the biggest challenge we face in their respective fields.

For Grand Ideas, we’ve reached back out to some those experts, and also tapped into the BBC’s global network of reporters to create a huge list of amazing innovations that’ll serve as our battle plan against any dystopian roadblock that pops up on our rapidly changing planet.

They include robotic mosquito traps to wipe out the Zika virus, trains that run on 100% wind power, how crowd-sourced spit can help us make better medicine, and more. They’re real ideas that are just now coming to fruition across the world, and ones that will help us solve problems in all areas of life in the 21st Century, like energy, environment, technology and health.

Check back with us over the next few months. If the current-day news cycle is any indication, our world can change in the blink of an eye – and these ideas could be just what we need to keep up.

Bryan Lufkin is the editor of Future Now. Follow him on Twitter at @bryan_lufkin.