Swiss-born industrial designer Yves Béhar enters the Hot 50 this year on the strength of more than one year’s innovative work.

During this time, he’s made major inroads not just into sustainable designs that are elegant, appropriate and environmentally friendly, but also into the business models that sustain them.

President of San Francisco-based Fuse Project, Béhar won top prize in the Design Museum’s inaugural Brit Insurance Design Awards in 2008 for One Laptop Per Child, a charity bent on making colourful laptops (designed by Fuse Project) available to poor children across the developing world.

He has gone on to develop a range of ‘national health’ spectacles for poor children in Mexico that allow wearers to personalise the glasses, but much of his work has been with young entrepreneurial start-ups in California’s Silicon Valley, creating products with sustainable businesses around them, in which he often takes a stake.

Previous examples include the Jawbone Bluetooth headset Béhar describes as ‘ear candy’. Last year saw the Mission motorbike – an extreme sports cycle with an electric engine. Then there is Pact underwear – sustainable cotton pants and vests with patterns that each represent a different environmental charity which takes a share of the proceeds – and Jimmy Jane vibrators that are immersible in water.

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