GIST Insights: Deep Tech

GIST Insights: Deep Tech

August 25, 2021

“Deep tech” is a phrase you’re going to be hearing more and more of in the coming decade, and it’s going to be more important than ever. But what exactly is it, and why should it matter? At its most simple, “deep tech” is used to describe novel technology that is based on substantial scientific or engineering challenges. Any technology that is based on novel, research-driven innovation could be described this way, but it usually is used to describe innovations that address big societal and environmental challenges and that have the potential to impact everyday life. Deep technology is currently being explored in the world's leading labs, universities, and most research-driven startups;  it’s the kind of tech that takes years of research and development (and therefore lots of investment) but that can be totally transformative; these innovations are often radical and may create new markets or disrupt existing ones. The most prominent deep tech fields include advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, blockchain, robotics, photonics, electronics, and quantum computing, but it isn’t limited to just this; all sorts of technologies can fall into this category. 

Advances are being made all over the world around these topics; Eastern Europe is one leader, with huge AI focuses in Ukraine and next generation material sciences in Poland, but there are advances globally in many of the regions GIST operates in. 

Regardless of where you are, GIST is here to connect you with the best resources available, and help your innovation thrive. Read on for more insights on this transformative topic. 



What you need to know: 



Deep tech is built differently. 
According to the latest BCG research: “Deep tech ventures are characterized by four main attributes. They are problem-oriented, not technology-driven. They situate themselves, instead, at the convergence of technologies (96% of deep tech ventures use at least two technologies, and 66% use more than one advanced technology). Building on the advancements stemming from the digital revolution, deep tech has shifted innovation away from the digital world (“bits”) towards the physical one (“bits and atoms“), developing mainly physical products, rather than software (83% of deep tech ventures are currently building a product with a hardware component). Lastly, deep tech ventures rely on a deeply interconnected ecosystem of actors, without which it cannot thrive.” 

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Deep tech gives us the tools to meet the complex challenges of today and tomorrow.  As management teams reimagine their business for the post-COVID-19 era, shifting their focus from near-term profitability and efficiency to resilience and the advancement of the common interest on issues such as climate change, three big changes stand out: the new logic of competition, the increase in innovation and resilience through diversity, and optimization for social and business value. Because deep tech is uniquely positioned to create competitive advantage in each of these areas, it should play a key role in defining and shaping the new reality for the better.

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Investors are ready and hungry to invest in the next generation of innovation. Global private investment in deep tech fields increased more than 20% a year from 2015, and reached almost $18 billion in 2018, with further increases since; deep tech investments grew to more than $60B in 2020.

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Deep tech innovators crave closer collaboration with corporate partners.
Research revealed that startups have plenty of choices when it comes to partners but that they, like their preferred partners, struggle to make the relationships work. Corporate partnerships offer lots of advantages—more than most other potential partnerships—but it is difficult to secure and make them successful. While 95% of startups wish to develop long-term corporate partnerships, only 57% of them have done so.

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Additional Resources

For additional insights into accelerators and incubators visit our GIST TechConnect panels, our GIST Guru interviews, and GIST Innovation Talks podcasts:


Utilizing Artificial Intelligence


The principles are explored further in our Startup Trainings, Virtual Accelerator, and Panel Discussions.



Pictured: Quantum Computing System, Credit: Graham Carlow


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