Cement that absorbs carbon dioxide. Engineered human genes. Food-saving algorithms.

Companies are solving problems in innovative ways. As such, if you're looking for who's going to make a big impact in the new year, these businesses are pretty safe bets. Here are seven startups to keep your eye on in 2020. 

1. Solidia 

When it comes to climate change, cement production is a major culprit, accounting for about 7 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. New Jersey-based Solidia uses a patented process to address this problem, replacing limestone with a synthetic material that requires lower temperatures and less energy than traditional methods. The cement absorbs CO2 as it hardens, all of which amounts to a production process with a 70 percent smaller carbon footprint. Solidia launched commercially in the U.S. in August 2019 through a partnership with paving company EP Henry.

2. Shape Therapeutics

Seattle-based Shape Therapeutics is developing technology that would modify human RNA to correct mutations or eliminate diseases. Founded in 2018 and based on the groundbreaking work of UC-San Diego bioengineering professor Prashant Mali, Shape raised a $35.5 million Series A round in November that will help the company build its staff and open a satellite office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2020. Some experts say the method that Shape is working on is more precise than the much-hyped Crispr-Cas9 process.

3. Better.com 

New York City-based Better.com is trying to upend the antiquated mortgage application process by bringing it online. The company doesn't charge fees or commissions and instead makes its money only via interest. And whereas traditional mortgage applications can take weeks, getting pre-approved on Better.com takes just a few minutes thanks to a largely automated process. The company, which lent more than $4 billion to homebuyers in 2019, announced a $160 million funding round in August that brought its total funding to $254 million. Now approved in 44 states, it launches in the New York market in 2020 and expects to be in all 50 states by March. 

4. Afresh 

U.S. retailers throw out $18 billion worth of spoiled food every year, which is bad for both the bottom line and the environment. San Francisco startup Afresh creates software that uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to help stores optimize their fresh food inventories and cut back on waste. Founded in 2016, the company says it has secured partnerships with several billion-dollar grocery chains and is in talks with more. Some partner stores have reported that adopting the tablet-based app has helped them cut their food waste in half. 

5. Understory

Madison, Wisconsin-based Understory builds weather sensors that collect 125,000 data points per second, tracking things like precipitation, wind, temperature, air pressure, and humidity. In 2019, the company partnered with insurance firm MSI GuaranteedWeather. The data it collects will help determine payouts for hail-related auto insurance claims--a new approach to insurance that could make payouts faster and more accurate. Next, the startup is looking to move into structural and agricultural insurance.

6. Movandi 

The rollout of 5G, the fifth-generation wireless network, began in 2019 and will ramp up in 2020. But some experts worry that the technology, which has huge potential thanks to its ability to transfer large amounts of data quickly, won't be as accessible to those outside of high-density areas. Movandi, based in Irvine, California, aims to remedy that. The startup creates technology that broadens the reach of 5G spectrum bands. And while the wireless signal loses much of its potency if not in the recipient's line-of-sight, Movandi's tech can bend the signal around buildings and other obstacles. The startup, which has $30 million in funding, says it is in talks with major wireless providers about potential partnerships. 

7. Petal

Forget credit scores: Petal determines whether you're eligible for a credit card using factors like your income and bank statements. Geared toward younger people who haven't yet established a solid line of credit, the company doesn't charge fees--including for missed payments--and offers cash-back rewards. The New York City-based company will expand its operations in a big way in 2020 thanks to a recent $30 million VC funding round, plus another $300 million in debt financing.