Although tech, in general, includes more than digital technology, most of our current focus in that field revolves around concepts like social media platforms, mobile apps, or accounting software, etc... instead of focusing on more pressing matters.
How will we feed billions around the globe? How will we solve the many issues related to our global healthcare system? How will we stop and undo the damage caused by climate change? These are some of the crucial questions related to the well being of our planet... and whilst digital technology is great, it is not the technology that will help us solve the most critical problems of our times.
"Deep Technology is the realization of the futuristic dreams of the past eras." - Imche Fourie - CEO of LevelTwo (TEDxTalks - Auckland)
In order to secure our future, we need to pay more attention to Deep Technology. Deep Technology is a set of innovations based on scientific or engineering breakthroughs, that have the potential to advance technological frontiers... Among these innovations, we count Biotechnology, AI, Photonics & Electronics, Drones & Robotics, Advanced Materials, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, just to name a few... "Where software and digital technologies are tweaks or quick fixes to the way things are currently operating, Deep Technology is the realization of those futuristic dreams of the past eras." - According to Imche Fourie - CEO of LevelTwo (TEDxTalks - Auckland)
Deep tech companies create innovations that can sometimes be radical and may disrupt existing markets or even create new ones. They focus on addressing big societal and environmental challenges that have the potential to impact our everyday lives.
In a publication by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), on November 2020, called "Deep Tech Solutions for Emerging Markets", co-authors Nedayvoda, Mockel, and Graf emphasize that "a major advantage of deep tech solutions is their ability to form the basis for future industries that emerging markets need." This is one of the reasons why deep tech is gaining prominence now. According to the 2019 Tough Tech Landscape report, investments in deep tech grew from 500 deals totaling $2.9 billion in 2012 to over 1,600 deals for $35.7 billion in 2018.
In the energy sector, deep tech has created the core technologies of renewable energy, including solar and wind power. From this point on, however, more will be needed, especially with regards to renewable baseload power, from technologies like hydrogen, energy storage, and nuclear fusion.
Deep tech is also best suited to solve unmanageable problems by exhibiting unique and transformative solutions. These solutions can, for instance, increase agricultural productivity without damaging the environment and human health, or bring productivity gains to manufacturing and other resource-intensive industries with drastic decreases of pollutive operations.
The issue is that most of the investments in tech today is still going to digital technology instead of deep tech. The social, mobile and cloud environment is still overpowering the deep tech industry, and this does not reflect where our current concerns about our global problems should be... Do we still need another Facebook or Amazon? or another AWS or Azure? Isn't that space filled with enough competition already?
We must realise that the survival and well being of future generations, mostly rely upon our earnest investments on key industries powered by deep tech innovations.
Before that, we must understand the reasons why there are not much investments going towards deep tech as it should. Deep tech is perceived as difficult and can also be very expensive. It cost a lot more money to build facilities that produce biofuel than it does to get a group of sofware engineers to put together a mobile app. Most investors will put their money in something they more or less understand. Where it is easy to understand how a software solution will respond to a particular market demand, deep tech is so cutting-edge that a market for it might not even exist yet. Due to the fact that deep tech companies are mostly operating by doing research to prove scientific theories before scaling them, it might take 10 or more years before an investor can see a return on their money.
Nonetheless, investors must look at the bigger picture. They must shift their focus from short term digital tech returns, to long term solutions to our most significant global problems. The fact is that, looking at those global issues, we can already anticipate the lucrative exceptional solutions. The bigger the problem solved, the larger the amount of money made in return, and the better for the longevity of our planet.
According to Imche Fourie - CEO of LevelTwo, "Deep technology is the only way for us to realise the vision of a better future and we have no choice but to start paying attention."