When it comes to technology, certain sectors such as fintech, grab all the headlines. But this year, if you look closely at the types of investment being made by early-stage funders like Tom Chapman of Matchesfashion, Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, and Brook Byers of Kleiner Perkins, you can spot the other sectors set to boom.
Here are just three of the industry sectors that are using tech to supercharge growth in 2019.
In the early days, tech powered the retail industry. Innovations such as online shopping carts linked to home delivery, payment solutions, self-scanning, and commercial User Generated Content were all pioneered in the retail sector.
But over the last few years, innovation seemed to have stalled, with companies side-tracked by social media and the trend for experiences. This has given breathing space for new companies and retail industries to develop. One of the more exciting ones that’s set to boom is cannabis.
For example, Seed is a company tapping into this new cannabis trend. Developed by Horizon Display, the company uses in-store technology and touchscreens to educate cannabis buyers. The beauty of Seed is that it’s a two-way street. Customers can learn more about the products and make informed buying choices, and the dispensaries gain access to valuable data and insight on its customers.
Retail tech is attracting big money right now. Just this week, in fact, it was announced that Starbucks has invested $100m in a new fund called Valor Siren Ventures. The vehicle is tasked with uncovering new startups and big ideas that will power and transform the next generation of retail business. This level of funding is sure to create a new era in retail technology.
Everyone in tech knows that fitness is a booming sector. The success of companies such as Mirror Gym and Peloton can attest to that. But when people look at tech in healthcare, they usually picture monitoring apps and aids. However, there is one tech that’s set to utterly transform the healthcare sector over the next five years, and that’s robotics.
The use of robotics in surgery, for example, has grown exponentially over the last few years, while staying right under the radar. Despite this low profile, the sector has attracted top investors including Eric Schmidt via his Innovation Endeavours, who recently bought into robotics and VR-surgery startup Vicarious Surgical.
Robotics is now used in a large proportion of surgeries worldwide. Some estimate as many as close to one million per year. The next-gen tech companies are looking to a future where surgery can be performed remotely worldwide; giving access to life-changing procedures for all.
Robots are now a serious proposition elsewhere in the healthcare sector. According to a recent study by Global Market Insights the market for assistive robots, ones which help the elderly and others with mobility issues, is set to top $1.2bn by 2024. The idea of a robot helper still seems like a sci-fi dream, but judging by the huge predicted growth curve, an annual rate of 19.5% over 2016-2024, it would be foolish to ignore the possibility that assistive robots may become the norm.
A couple of years ago, no one was putting money into agricultural technology. Maybe it was seen as lacking excitement or too traditional an industry to guarantee a payback. But investors are now starting to see the upsides driven by changing consumer habits, increased awareness of climate change, population growth and the need to ensure nations can actively tackle food security.
This new focus has led to an explosion in investment. According to a study by VC fund Finistere around $6.7bn in funding has poured into the sector over the last five years alone, and the growth appears to be fairly uniform worldwide. If this level of funding continues, it’s likely that agtech will lose its niche credentials and become mainstream.
One of the most exciting startups in agtech over the last few years and certainly one of the most successful has been the Farmers Business Network. It brings together US farmers giving them access to advanced data and analytics increasing productivity and yields. When growing is your business, having access to just one element, the largest seed-performance database in the world, the difference it makes is incalculable.
No surprise then that veteran investor Brook Byers got in early and big-name venture firms including Temasek and T. Rowe Price have now picked up on the opportunity. Loose co-operatives and alliances based around tech solutions like the Farmers Business Network are set to transform the way agriculture solves the huge challenges we all face worldwide.
Tech is powering innovations in every sector but in some they could have a transformative effect. These three examples illustrate that tech in 2019 is set to get more exciting and impactful than ever.