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Annual List: The Top 12 Technologies To Watch in 2021

Lux Research
November 19, 2020

Every year we ask our analysts, "What technologies will you be following this year that have the greatest potential to transform the world over the next decade?"

Based on their expertise, combined with innovation data from patents, academic papers, and funding, we've selected 12 technologies to watch spanning energy, mobility, materials, agrifood, and digital. Our annual report, "Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch," highlights our findings and provides a jumping-off point into much more in-depth information on the Lux platform via dedicated Tech Pages and other research.

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Technologies on our list are not just a function of Lux Tech Signal score. So how do we choose our technologies, and put them in this order? When we rank technologies based on our data, we don’t simply look at the current score but also at the rate of improvement, the innovation history, as well as other factors.

What’s more, these rankings are not simply a function of the innovation data – we also take into account expert insight from our analyst team. Our researchers flag technologies with high innovation scores that may still face market roadblocks that make them dubious bets, or technologies that have less impressive scores but fit a key unmet market need that will enable them to make a major impact.

Lux Research - Foresight 2021 Top Technologies Infographic-png

Click here to download your copy of the Foresight 2021 Infographic

Finally, we also calibrated the final choices to represent a breadth of innovation across energy, materials, health, and digital. Based on the Lux Tech Signal alone, digital innovations would dominate the list due to the world’s intense recent focus on digital transformation. To provide a reliable guide, we identified the technologies with the greatest potential to transform the world using both unique data analytics and insight from leading domain experts.  

The top 3 emerging technologies to watch in 2021:

  1. AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES
    Increasing levels of vehicle automation, eventually resulting in removing the need for drivers in consumer and commercial vehicles.

  2. NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING
    NLP powers increasingly crucial use cases and devices such as chatbots and voice assistants.

  3. PLASTIC RECYCLING
    Innovations that can convert plastic waste into a variety of valuable products, enabling a circular economy and avoiding pollution.


For each of the 12 technologies identified, our report provides an overview, a case study, and a view into driving megatrends. Click here to learn more.

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