Signals from the frontier | Deeptech reads | Deeptech deals | Deeptech diary
In this edition of Deep in the Chasm, we include a curated roundup of the most relevant news and insights across the Deep Tech ecosystem.
Meanwhile, over the summer I have been building a database of the global Deep Tech ecosystem. As soon as I started I realized I may have bitten off more than I can chew but so far I have managed to gather data on 5,353 companies, 173 investors, 124 programs and 54 events. I’m hoping I will be able to share some insights here before the end of the year.
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Signals From The Frontier
Covering Deep Tech signals that indicate the future may be different from the present. We kick-off this edition of Signals with the news from Gartner that, perhaps unsurprisingly, generative AI is at the peak of its hype cycle for emerging technologies:
- Apple Experimenting With 3D Printing to Create Devices: Apple is testing using a binder jetting approach to 3D print steel and titanium parts for the new Apple Watch Series 9. If successful it would help Apple reduce manufacturing times, material use, and production costs and the process will likely be expanded to more products.
- 3DMakerPro launches new high-resolution, 0,01mm accuracy seal 3D scanner: The scanner provides up to 5x the resolution of comparable scanners.
- Photocatalysts have many applications in industry such as in energy generation or environmental detoxification but are often very expensive and dangerous to develop. Now, a team from the University of Johannesburg have developed a new photocatalyst that can capture around 18% of all available solar energy as compared to existing photocatalysts that can only harness around 5% of the energy as they are limited to the UV spectrum.
- The UK National Cyber Security Centre is warning about the potential for “prompt injection” attacks that potentially allow hackers to steal data or manipulate responses between chatbots and their users.
- In two separate cases, scientists have successfully used machine learning in combination with brain implants to return the power of speech to patients that had their voice taken away due to medical issues.
Articles covering emerging technologies in more depth:
- Aerosol geoengineering will not stop Antarctic ice sheet from melting, simulations suggest: Unfortunately the West Antarctica ice shelf is so close to a tipping point that the only way of stopping it collapse now (which would result in a global sea level rise of 3-4m over the next few centuries) is via rapid de-carbonisation.
- According to the Good Food Institute governments have invested around $1Bn USD in alternative protein development around the world primarily to address concerns around food security and climate change. However, whilst that sounds like alot the Good Food Institute estimates a total of $10Bn USD would be required to truly scale the technology. This would then create an industry worth $1.1Tn USD (as compared to a current global meat industry of around $900Bn)
- Tim Dettmer provides a clear explanation of why GPUs are good for machine learning via a sports car (the CPU) and multiple truck (the GPU) analogy.
- Should Green Ammonia by the Hydrogen Carrier of today? Green Ammonia is a form of Hydrogen that is cheaper, denser and easier to store and transport than other hydrogen carriers. 180 million toones of Ammonia are already being produced so there is useful existing infrastructure that can also be expanded upon. Despite safety concerns and current lack of awareness Ammonia is set to be a key part of acheiving net-zero emissions by 2050.
- VEDLIoT is an EU project dedicated to using AI to improve IoT systems: The number of active IoT systems is expected to reach 29.7 Bn by 2027 from just 3.6 Bn in 2015. This EU project looked at four key areas to boost their performance with AI:
- Specialised AI accelerators that optimise energy consumption
- Hardware aware pruning and quantisation reducing the memory footprint of models whilst maintaining accuracy
- Safety and security to ensure the integrity and reliability of the system
- Customisable hardware platforms allowed for tailored IoT solutions for specific use cases.
- A detailed report from Octopus Ventures on the UK University Entrepreneurial ecosystem maintains Queen’s University Belfast at the top of the impact ranking but also shows that 60% of the top 10 spinout universities now lie outside the London-Cambridge-Oxford golden triangle. Well worth a read!
- A great review of Mustafa Suleyman’s upcoming book: The Coming Wave. Like Mustafa, I would not describe myself as a technological determinist as I think there is a much more subtle interplay between society, culture, economics and technology. However, I am not sure a strategy of “technological containment” could be very effective either. But, I look forward to reading this book to see if I can be convinced otherwise. And in support of the background to the book, here is a great introduction to Synthetic Biology:
- How old are the most radical innovators? A study on 2,900 German entrepreneurs found that younger founders generate more innovation but it tends to be more incremental in nature. However, older founders are more likely to create more radical innovations, likely as a result of their greater experience, resources and network.
- News out of Graphene Week is that to date, Graphene has delivered a 14.5-fold return on initial investment, 5.9Bn Euros of gross value added across Europe and is estimated will result in around 81,000 jobs globally by 2030.
- Although I teach a course called “Industry 4.0” I am not a great fan of the term, especially when it is now being extended to Industry 5.0 and even industry 6.0! However, this article does a good job at explaining the ongoing industrial revolution and the additional risks it is creating.
- Whilst large language models have become extremely capable they are still a long way from general AI, particularly when it comes down to hallucinating, reasoning, world modelling and unpredictability. But in a recent paper from Gary Marcus and Doug Lenat (who sadly passed away last week) the authors argue that LLMs in combination with symbolic AI approaches such as Cyc could address 16 key shortcomings of LLMs.
Finally, 5G connectivity from orbit is rapidly becoming a reality with a number of companies already operating or planning to enter the market including:
This video provides a quick overview of the technologies involved, use cases and challenges:
A round up of deep tech deals and investments:
- PhotonVentures, a spinoff from PhotonDelta, has raised an inaugural 60M Euro fund to invest in European Photonics technology and is aiming to grow the fund to 150M Euro by the end of 2024. They will focus on series A investments with ticket sizes of between 1M and 2.5M Euro
- Novo Nordisk has acquired Embark Biotech, a University of Copenhagen spinout, that has developed an obesity and diabetes treatment in a deal. Novo Nordisk provided 15M Euros in cash upfront for the deal and may invest up to 456M Euros in total if development, regulatory and commercial milestones are reached.
- The US Department of Energy has granted a multi-institutional team led by General Atomics $7.4M USD to develop a fusion data platform for advancing high-priority fusion research. The team includes San Diego Supercomputer Center, Hewlett Packard and Sapientai. For background, this is a great article that explains the growing interest in using AI and high-performance computing to accelerate fusion power development.
- British based, Enough has raised $43.6M USD to scale up production of its fungi based meat alternative. Whilst the market for plant-based meat alternatives has been recently declining in the US, the EU has seen sales continue to grow to $5.7Bn USD (up 22% since 2020). Mycoprotein products tend to provide high levels of vitamins and minerals whilst having a good taste and texture. As a result, the global market for Mycoproteins and fermented ingredients is anticipated to grow to around $1Bn USD globally by 2029.
- French based Founders Fund are targeting closing a 150M Euro climate and AI focused fund by the end of 2024. They have raised 75M Euros so far and intend to back companies from Pre-Seed to Series A as well as support existing portfolio companies with follow on funding.
- Haydale Graphene Industries has agreed a deal with Petronas Technology Ventures to collaborate on the development of graphene products for battery cells, composites, coatings, and thermal materials.
Otherwise, below is the 3 month look-ahead of events across the Deep Tech ecosystem:
20 – 21st September: The Big-Data.AI summit will be held in Berlin.
21 – 23rd September: Techsparks’23 conference will be held in Bengaluru.
3 – 4th October: The AIChE Industry 4.0: Digital Transformation Conference IDTC23 will be held in Illinois.
18-20th October: The Hannover Messe Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific takes place in Singapore.
23rd October: Secpho’s 14th annual reunion takes place in Spain.
7 – 9th November: Medtech’s advanced manufacturing conference and supply chain intelligence summit takes place in Washington DC at the same time PuzzleX will be taking place in Spain.
13 – 16th November: Web Summit in Portugal
14 – 17th November: The Europe In-Depth Security Conference will be held in Austria.
22 – 24th November: The 2023 International Conference on Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing (ISM) will be held in Portugal.
28 – 29th November: Barcelona Deep Tech Summit in Spain.