Deep tech encompasses all those technologies that are based on discoveries or innovations. Deep tech is understood as technology based on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries that often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation they can create, and their potential to catalyze change – without the final users having a direct interaction with it. Deep tech innovations are disruptive solutions built around unique, protected or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances that enable a new relationship with technology, evolving from using technology to improving the business to building from the possibilities of technology (which is a really disruptive angle).
This concept, coined by Swati Chaturvedi, CEO and co-founder of the investment firm Propel(x), is used to refer to “companies that are founded on scientific discovery or genuine technological innovation” that aim to be socially relevant to transform the world we live in into a better place.
Thus, we can see that the big difference between companies that use deep tech and purely technological companies is that the first ones appropriate the technology to make it their own. They try to conceive it as a much more human aspect that takes into account the social background; where technology as such is a value proposal and solves problems through significant scientific or technological advances.
It is assumed that there are three attributes that characterize deep tech in a business environment: they have a great impact, they usually take a long time to reach maturity in the market, and they require considerable capital to develop.
The deep tech has applications in very wide fields, such as health, agriculture or chemistry. In addition, it provides solutions of all kinds through techniques such as artificial intelligence or big data. Especially, deep tech is helping to implement new technologies more focused on the scientific field, something we call “tech transfer”. In short, it refers to the “process of conveying results stemming from scientific and technological research to the market place and to wider society, along with associated skills and procedures“.
Some examples of deep tech companies
As we have already mentioned, the fields of action of deep tech are really varied. Many startups are appearing with innovative ideas that will change our daily lives. Here is a list of some deep tech startups from around the world that, according to Slingshot – a big deep tech startup pitching competition in Asia – we should keep an eye on at an international level:
Eko.ai has developed a machine learning-based software for early detection and treatment of heart disease. The software taps 3.5 million echo images, using machine learning to sort through echograms automatically.
CredoLab aims to change the game for banks, allowing them to ascertain creditworthiness for customers with no credit histories through the analysis of customer’s mobile devices metadata.
Ubudu plans to make locating all your company assets way easier with high-accuracy real-time geolocation systems capable of tracking assets down to 20 to 30 cm of their location – as well as tracking people!
Nucane Life: The Sugar Solution
Nucane Life: The Sugar Solution has invented a new natural sugar carbohydrate that helps food brands achieve a sugar reduction of up to 70% – while preserving its sweetness and also integrating a range of healthy substrates, like protein and fiber.
In Spain, we are not lagging behind in deep tech. Numerous ideas are emerging that aim to impact society in the most positive way. Some examples are the following:
RHEO-DX is a spin-off from the Mathematical Research Center, which has developed an accurate and portable in vitro device that immediately diagnoses hematological diseases from a single drop of blood.
Smart Tower is a company that emerged from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia that has worked on creating a wireless IOT solution to monitor large energy structures, as well as their proactive maintenance and the prevention of critical situations.
AllRead is a spin-off from the Computer Vision Center that reads and converts into Big Data any type of alphanumeric text present in industrial processes.
These startups have emerged from The Collider program, which we tell you about below.
The Collider: Innovation program for Deep Tech
As we mentioned, intensive work is already underway at a national level to bring the scientific and research fields of deep tech closer to the business world. A great example are programs such as The Collider, an innovation program run by Mobile World Capital that aims to bridge the gap between science and the market, transforming the scientific knowledge that comes from the universities into market solutions, ensuring that technology transfer is done easily in a natural process together with the market.
The main challenge of technology transfer is to have a good discussion between the market and the research, since both their languages are completely different – which means that many research projects do not reach the market. The Collider creates the conditions for these conversations to remain optimal, starting to understand what the market needs. By involving their representatives in this conversation, they are able to validate research projects in laboratories to resolve these issues and finally create the best business teams to transfer this research to the market, connecting it to the entire Mobile World Capital ecosystem.
They do so through the promotion of deep tech projects, which have emerged from the best universities and research centres; identifying and training the best talent in both fields in order to position them against disruptive startups and creating science-based companies with a high potential to deal with the complex problems of the industry. One of the key aspects of the program that ensures a good transfer to the market is the coexistence of research projects with specialized corporations and mentors, as well as the co-definition of concrete use cases where the projects will be applied.
This program aims to be attractive to research centers, entrepreneurs, scientists and companies. By collaborating with research centres, universities and technology transfer offices, the aim is to identify the best technologies to be applied in the real world and to open up new fields of research. In this situation, scientists (master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral students in particular) play a key role, as they apply their expertise to a diverse range of exciting professional careers with which they can find new opportunities and have a positive impact on society.
For entrepreneurs, this program also has many advantages. The purpose is to invite entrepreneurs and professionals who want to become founders and/or technical advisors of innovative technological startups with the best technologies in the fields of AI, IOT, VR, and blockchain. Last but not least, we have companies with which, through new mechanisms of technology transfer, The Collider seeks to generate synergies to adopt these new technologies with the aim of launching joint projects.
For the time being, the result has been the involvement of 70 universities with 100 companies carrying out validations to create 9 startups, and the development of reports that ensure that Spain presents a great opportunity for innovation thanks to the country’s magnificent scientific talent, which we must take advantage of to bet on a local, prestigious and high quality value.