The term deep tech (deep technological innovations) refers to cutting edge technologies that emerge from basic research laboratories. Developed by a new generation of “research entrepreneurs”, they are the bearers of radical transformations that are capable of turning our society upside down.
Indeed, the aim of deep tech startups is to push back technological boundaries – drawing on major technological, scientific or engineering breakthroughs – to meet the challenges of the 21st century in a wide range of sectors such as energy, health, industry, the smart city, or food. Unlike “traditional” digital startups, who innovate mainly using existing technologies, they concentrate on what are known as “disruptive” innovations. These can be renewable energy storage solutions, integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning into health devices, or the use of Big data, Blockchain, and biotechnology in the agriculture and agri-food sector, etc.
In 2016, nearly 600 deep techs were created in Europe, in particular in the area of Artificial Intelligence*.
These startups are of real interest to investors and large companies, in particular the internet giants, which translates into massive investments, takeovers, the launch of joint ventures, or the creation of subsidiaries.
They do however face several challenges: very long time to market for innovations, high capital needs, significant technological risks, etc. In return, the technologies developed are unique and extremely difficult to reproduce, which provides them with substantial competitive advantage.
New power sources, the fight against cancer, longer life expectancy, the re-industrialisation of Europe, etc. Deep techs have the potential to change the world, thanks to research and innovation.
*Source: The State of European Tech 2017