Photo credit: author's own
OurCrowd, the leading global equity crowdfunding platform, made history today and hosted the biggest investment event in Israel, the Startup Nation. With 6,000 guests from 82 countries attending, including startups, venture capitalists and strategic investors, the event was packed with entertainment, excitement and information to capture a real vision for the future in Israel. Also in attendance were over 200 multinational corporations including Honda, Innogy, GE, Shell, Intuit, Microsoft, and Samsung Ventures.
To capture the key trends brought to life on this momentous day, here are my top tech trends for global startup investors and entrepreneurs:
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Go Mainstream
Driven by exponentially faster computing power and cloud computing, "teaching machines" is becoming easier and more scalable, enabling AI to go mainstream across a wide range of industries: including consumer marketing and retail, entertainment, digital health, and newer areas like autonomous driving and advanced robotics.
We are most excited by companies building applications which solve real world problems, applying AI in areas that can truly have an impact on the quality of our lives.
2. Seeing Is Believing: VR and AR Become a Critical Business Tool
Did you know that in operating rooms across the US, brain surgeons are already using Virtual Reality (VR) to rehearse and simulate surgery in order to be more effective? VR and Augmented Reality (AR) is not just about show business, entertainment, and 3D gaming, but also about saving lives, industrial solutions, and infrastructure.
In our view, VR and AR are about to go mainstream and will be used across a wide range of sectors from sports analytics to building airplane wings. These are definitely interesting technologies to keep an eye on!
3. Obey the Sound of My Voice: Voice-Driven Apps Filter Out the Noise
Have you ever tried using Siri in a car going over 50 KPH? Or talking to Alexa with the kids making noise in the background? Good Luck! As we all know it does not work.
However, we believe the era of voice driven computing is coming. In the last 10 years, we have moved from primarily using keyboards to swiping and using touch-screens. OurCrowd believes that in the next five years we will move to talking to our devices as the primary mode of man - machine communication.
Core voice recognition software has become almost perfect at understanding the human voice and getting our words correct. The missing ingredient is its ability to enable our machines to get a clear signal and cancel background noise so that Siri really can HEAR what we are saying.
I am excited about companies finding innovative ways of making this happen.
4. Apples and Oranges: AgTech Disrupts the World's Oldest Industry
As we all know, the world oldest industry has not been known for its technological flexibility. However, these days we witness the blooming of Agriculture-related technologies for different reasons. Traditionally farming is a family owned business and we now see how second generation of farmers are much more techie and open to adopt advanced farming technologies. In addition, the last two years have seen mass consolidation between leading players in AgTech creating deep pockets and a big appetite for acquisitions.
5. Industrial and Agricultural Drones Take Off
Over the past couple of years, we have heard a lot (maybe too much) buzz about Amazon using drones to deliver packages to your doorstep or bring you fast food on demand. While this is fun, we think the most interesting and profitable uses of drone technologies lie within industrial and agricultural markets.
Drones are already playing critical roles in facility security, mining, oil and gas exploration, crop protection and surveying landmass. Building industrial scale drones, which are robust and reliable is difficult and challenging, but companies that can meet that challenge are where we want to focus.
6. Is That a Doctor in Your Pocket? Digital Revolutionizes Healthcare
As much as we try not to overuse this term, artificial intelligence is actually a powerful factor in the rapidly growing digital health sector. Letting us crunch old data sets from electronic medical records all the way to data collected from wearables will increase our quality of life and perhaps even prevent deaths. Similarly, computer vision and machine learning are enabling companies to extract new insights and diagnostics from images.
7. Here, There, Everywhere: Blockchain Applications Finally Take Hold
Timing is everything! In the buzzword competition of 2016, blockchain was the hands down winner. Since then there have been fits and starts for this important financial technology. Many VCs have been disappointed with their investments in this sector; however, we think now is the time to take a fresh look, as this technology matures and evolves beyond Bitcoin across multiple applications such as: sharing economy, data security, logistics, and of course, banking and finance.
8. Boldly Going Where No Company Has Gone Before: SpaceTech
We are thrilled to see that a sector dominated by governments and states is now opening up to private ventures. NSLComm is inspiring entrepreneurs to aim high. We now see prestigious VC funds building space portfolios and enabling these ventures to take off.
In term of funding needs, what used to be super-expensive is becoming much more affordable, with standardization of hardware protocols as well as general cost reductions of consumer electronics. Satellites can now be built and launched for less than half a million dollars, creating exciting opportunities to commercialize the technology.
9. Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Becomes Critical
Are you worried about your car getting hacked? How about cyber criminals sneaking in through your air conditioner or refrigerator? Well we are too! Cybersecurity is not new; and in fact, the investing landscape is quite crowded, and the playing field is highly competitive.
But we believe the key shift for investing in the next few years will be a move from protecting IT infrastructure to protecting all infrastructure. We are excited about companies that are designing full-proof solutions to protect everything from automobiles to electric grids and everything in between.
10. Autonomous Driving Picks Up Speed
Did you really think we were going to finish this top-10 list without mentioning the most overhyped tech trend? We all know that autonomous driving is coming, but the question is when? Should we still pay for our kids to get drivers licenses?
Thanks to core technology expertise and industry-leading companies such as Waze and Mobileye, Israel has become a global hub of automotive innovation. Now that we have a direct flight to Boston and Silicon Valley; our #1prediction is that the next one will be direct to Detroit.
Jon Medved is CEO of OurCrowd