While most startups are small in team size and limited in terms of financial capacity, there’s one advantage they often have against their larger competitors – innovation and new business models for changing market conditions.
The year 2019 will see disruptive innovation in big markets such as online retail with the improved personalization of the shopping experience, using AI and machine learning to give buyers access to features as fascinating as virtual test rooms. It’s also the year of further experimentation with blockchain and other new technologies that are becoming more and more part of our daily lives – even if we often don’t realize it.
Here are five current startup and technology trends everyone should be aware of these days:
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning: AI is spreading across every industry. With new developments making headlines every week, it can be tough to determine whether they are relevant or not. One of the top AI trends to watch in 2019 is the growth of edge AI across applications. Tesla is developing a custom AI chip that enables instantaneous driving decisions, while Intel‘s Myriad X gives vision to baby monitors, drones, robots, and other devices that can respond to situations without internet connection.
Debates around the limits of AI have been raging with moral and ethical questions. However whether we like it or not, AI has already proved its huge potential and is here to stay. Indeed, it’s brought benefits across several verticals and startups have leveraged AI technologies to turn them into different kinds of devices. We see that AI in medical devices are helping us to treat even some of the most difficult diseases, across all stages, from detection to operation – for example Therapixel is a French startup that provides touchless medical imaging for surgeons. Winner of the digital mammography challenge, the largest Artificial Intelligence challenge ever organized, it aims at providing early breast cancer detection through their Artificial Intelligence Algorithm: the MammoScreen.
Remote Work: Working from home as an employee wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. Nowadays it’s becoming more and more common. As a result, companies become more flexible and in some cases they allow their employees to work from anywhere. Some companies combine remote and in-office teams while some companies are completely distributed, without any headquarters (Zapier, GitHub and Mozilla are some of the giants who were mainly hiring remotely in 2018). Whether in tech or other industries, fostering positive remote work has become an essential part of any businesses looking to increase production and happiness at work. So, what does the future hold for remote jobs in the virtual workplace? It is probably going to be even more important than today, with more people asking for flexibility, especially Generation Z. They’re actively looking for remote, travel-friendly jobs, away from the 9-5 office position. You can also expect companies to care more and provide their employees with in-house resources and micro-learning programs to stimulate and encourage a stronger sense of community among remote workers. Creating a “Book of Culture” will also become more common in companies that have remote workers (for example Tiller Systems recently published their own culture book). Finally, tech jobs will allow more and more people to work remotely and 2019 will be the year to find yours! The EU-Startups Job Board provides a nice overview.
Femtech: What is femtech? This growing sector now features startups focused specifically on women’s healthcare. Femtech (female technology) refers to software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology to improve women’s health. Femtech involves the use of digital health to motivate patients to access and use applications for managing women’s health issues, from fertility to sexuality. In Europe, there have been recent rounds for Elvie, which produces silent, wearable breast pumps; Emjoy, a sexual wellness app; and the virtual fertility clinic Apricity. Only 9% of decision makers at US-based venture firms are women, which means specifically female problems receive far less attention than they deserve. The CB Insights Femtech Market Map shows that this is a growing market, which has raised over $1.1 billion in total since 2014. 2019 should be the year that confirms the will that femtech startups have in expanding and strengthening their position on the market. Watch out!
Sustainability: Environmental issues are becoming more tangible and a higher level of awareness has led sustainability to be at the heart of development. Social concerns are impacting investing decisions and continue to be a trend in 2019. So, impact investing has been on the rise but so have sustainable investment assets. Indeed, In 2016, it’s estimated that sustainable investment assets grew to $22.89 trillion globally, up 25% from 2014 according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA). Millenials now represent two-thirds of the workforce, and social issues like climate-change or gun control are top of the list for the next generation. Businesses like Too Good To Go (a startup that fights food waste), Northvolt and Oxford PV (renewable energy), bring alternative solutions aligned with consumer trends like green consumption, the circular economy and social sustainability. So, what’s next for sustainable business? Global sustainable trends are probably going to intensify as issues like plastic waste, climate change, security threats, and global health issues continue to pose a threat to animals, humans and the entire planet.
Well-being: From workplace well-being to healthy fast food restaurants and connected fitness devices, wellness is now a multi-market opportunity estimated to be worth over $4 trillion and there are plenty of new startups that have both customers’ and employees’ well-being in mind. Fueled by this trend, one rather young industry is currently taking off; wellness tourism. The industry spend is expected to reach $919 billion by 2022. With companies like Roam fitness bringing gym and shower facilities into airports, the tourism sector will see more and more wellness themed-travel, like company retreats, which have been soaring with the rise of remote work in the last few years. People are now looking for healthy living characterized by physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. In 2019, also feminine care and sexual wellness will be fostered along spiritual wellness through yoga retreats and other wellness-related offerings.