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Three Crucial Questions Answered By Deep Tech Experts

Cosmin Laslau, Ph.D., Director, Research Products
January 31, 2019

We recently presented a webinar on our report “19 for 2019: Top Transformational Technologies Re-shaping the World” to more than 1,300 innovation executives, and we received a lot of thought-provoking questions. Here, Mike Holman, VP of Research, and Cosmin Laslau, Director of Research Products (both at Lux), shed additional light on our 19 for 2019 list and its applications:

  1. Why did solid-state batteries drop five places in the 19 for 2019 ranking versus last year’s list (from #6 in 2018 to #11 in 2019), as there are a lot of companies that are actively trying to develop this technology?
    Solid-state batteries face an interesting conundrum, as they are coming into a well-established space where lithium-ion batteries have progressed over the past two decades to dominate key energy storage applications. What’s more, even though Li-ion batteries are a relatively mature technology, they keep improving with better cathodes, better anodes, and more – and there are billions of dollars going into that field every year. So, solid-state batteries remain a promising technology, but they do face a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to really proving their worth within energy storage. It’s also worth noting that part of the reason for solid-state batteries’ ranking change is that other technologies saw increased innovation activity and momentum, showing the dynamic nature of the innovation world.

  2. Do you believe that, in the future, AI and machine learning will be available as a service that companies can simply plug into and use?
    That is one of the biggest challenges we think organizations will need to wrestle with: How do they best equip themselves to use AI? We think it will be a hybrid approach., You do want to leverage some of the great tools that are being built out there by the ecosystem, by Amazon Web Services, Google’s DeepMind, IBM, Microsoft, or more specialty small and mid-sized firms. However, no one knows your customers and their challenges better than you do. That is where the hybrid approach comes in: Companies will need strong data science teams and cross-cutting subject-matter experts on staff. We encourage firms to start building out that data science capability internally, so that you can customize external solutions and really make them work for you and for your customers.

  3. It seems like all the Lux Tech Signals included in the report have an inflection point around 2013. What is the explanation for this?
    That is a foundational question, which we have explored in depth. In our research we found that there is a consistent characteristic rise in technologies’ innovation interest over time as they come out of the research lab, into start-ups, and then to mass market breakthrough – before eventually tapering off and becoming commoditized. What we see is that this process typically follows an S-curve, and there’s often a five- to eight-year period between the start of the rise of that S-curve and when the technology starts making a real impact in the market. The technologies we highlight in our ranking in the 19 for 2019 report are intended to be those on the cusp of making that really big impact, and for that reason they all share that similar inflection point around the same year. Anyone interested in investing in, using, or owning IP in these top technologies should be acting now – for some it may already be too late.


What questions do you have about our 19 for 2019 top innovations report, and other emerging technologies topics? Contact us to let us know.