What are the first thoughts that pop into your head when you hear the words ‘deep tech’. No, we are not talking about a music genre here. On a serious note, deep tech is primarily referred to as a group of technologies that are based on state-of-the-art engineering, mathematics, medicine, and scientific research. 

Such technological applications have the potential to have a great impact on society and people’s lives. Some of the sectors that provide fertile ground for the growth of deep tech applications include computing, agri-tech, clean-tech, telecom, chemistry, and new materials. 

The deep tech umbrella also includes disruptive technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and deep learning. 

In 2021, the chase for deep technologies is broad and intense. As mentioned, such technologies can have a profound impact on our lives. In addition, at present, they take considerable time to mature and also require steep capital investment. 

Let’s dive straight in to understand what deep tech is all about. We will also explore some important deep technologies in this article. 

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What is deep tech?

Deep tech can be defined as a group of technologies that are based on tangible scientific innovations and engineering discoveries. Its main role is to untie the knots of some of the grave problems in our society such as climate change, clean energy, food production, and chronic disease. 

There is a stark difference between how conventional tech and deep tech firms operate. Within deep tech, companies, scientists, and technologists collaborate with each other toward a common goal. 

The scope of finding long-term solutions for an array of issues along with its notable enabling power makes deep tech one of the most exciting technologies. Besides, it is leveraging a myriad of technologies to bring about paradigm shifts in society. 

The demand for deep tech is tipped to expand at an exponential rate in the coming years. Some of the major factors that are expected to fuel this demand include the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing human population, and climate change. 

Important deep technologies

A garland of technologies that do not focus on end-user services fall under the deep tech bracket. These technologies are:

  • Language processing
  • Big data
  • Machine learning and AI
  • Blockchain
  • Robotics
  • Advanced material science
  • Biotech
  • Quantum computing
  • Electronics and photonics
  • Speech and vision algorithms

Impact of deep tech on different sectors

A host of sectors stand to benefit from deep tech’s enabling prowess. We have covered some of the key areas below. 

1. Computing and processing

While computers may have evolved at a rapid pace over the past few decades, the essence of their design remains the same. Today, computers are sleek, more powerful, and cater to the computing needs of the world. 

Deep tech can open up new avenues for computing and processing. With deep tech, it is possible to create custom-built computers that are specifically designed to solve particular problems. 

Quantum computing is one of the best examples to portray how deep tech could take processing and computing to the next level. This is predominantly driven by the increasing adoption of new technologies such as machine learning that require their own processing and computing resources. 

Besides, the current energy demands of the existing computer infrastructure is not very sustainable in the long run. 

2. Life sciences

The Boston Consulting Group found out that the health industry accounted for a major chunk of deep tech startups in 2020. One of the areas within the health sector where deep tech is already making a strong impact is precision medicine. This new age development is allowing scientists and technologists to collect accurate health-based data and also develop personalized treatments. 

As mentioned, deep tech is already making inroads in the life sciences field. Current applications include wearables for health diagnostics and tracking, AI diagnosis, and digital health records.

Digital health records enable medical professionals to offer personalized treatment and connect with patients virtually. 

3. Agri-tech and food

Food insecurity is one of the biggest challenges around the world. Deep tech can help us replace conventional farming practices with sustainable food production. A bunch of new startups are blooming in the agri-tech space. These companies are turning to exciting technologies such as biotech, blockchain, and big data to create interconnected farming systems. 

Synthetic biology is another area that is currently being explored and touted to gain noteworthy adoption in the upcoming years. 

4. Clean-tech and energy

Windmills generating clean energy

The energy sector is on the constant lookout for new, innovative, and transformative technologies. Deep tech companies and the energy industry seem like a match made in heaven for a bunch of reasons. At present, deep tech companies have turned their attention to hydropower generation and also boost solar and wind energy. 

At present, one of the biggest barriers within the renewable energy space is storage. A lot of deep tech companies are entering the fray and trying to fix this issue by optimizing their cloud-based technology and enhancing their batteries. 

5. Infrastructure

There is no denying that the world population is growing exponentially each year. Hence, governments are under constant pressure to develop new infrastructure. This encompasses housing, power plants, transportation, sewers, and more. However, when governments invest in infrastructure, they have to comply with various regulations pertaining to carbon emissions, etc. 

The human race needs to expand and grow using sustainable production techniques while promoting improved quality of life. Urban planners and tech pioneers will have to come together and work toward a greener future. The G20 has asked countries to deploy deep technologies along with public-private partnerships to address this problem. 

Next step for deep tech

The R&D cycle for deep tech companies is longer than regular startups. This indicates that deep tech companies are more resource and time-consuming to set up. 

Besides, the complexities involved in resolving all the challenges mentioned in this article can also make it difficult to secure investments. This is even true for visionary companies and angel investors as they fail to understand the potential of an idea. 

Having said that, investment in the deep tech sector has increased at a steady rate in recent years. In many industries, traditional technologies are likely to be replaced by new technologies such as deep learning, AI, and more. As the digital evolution gathers more steam, venture capitalists are not shying away from investing in companies operating in the quantum tech, deep tech, AI, and blockchain space. 

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Image 1 Source: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay