With the first full year of Brexit implementation, French elections, the inauguration of President-elect Trump, and a start to the baseball season with the Cubs as the reigning world champs, the world could not feel more unpredictable. In 2017, entropy feels more palpable than ever before.
‘Tis therefore the season to invite some of my colleagues in VC to offer some predictions for the upcoming year. These talented individuals are much smarter than I am, so it’s an honor to solicit their wisdom during this period of chaos.
Claire Houry, Ventech, Paris
For 2017, I see e-tailers going offline, reinventing the offline world and merging the physical and digital world to create an immersive environment. We shall see augmented and virtual reality booming in marketing applications, data-driven indicators and online analytics entering the offline world and intelligent apps (virtual customer assistant) performing some of the functions of a human assistant. Be ready to see internet of things invading all types of products.
Geopolitical views: With the world’s biggest start-up campus to open in Paris in April 2017, I also see France getting high attention in the tech world. Ventech supports the project and will launch its ParisPOC program for its foreign portfolio companies, willing to expand into the French and the European market.
Anna Boffetta, Balderton Capital, London
i) The list of winners in machine learning will shift from including only those who can gather the biggest dataset for training to also include those who develop training methods that rely on fewer and fewer data points. In the past years we have made huge progress in Artificial Narrow Intelligence (automation, optimisation, prediction etc.) but, thanks to the increase in computational power, the next years will begin to build towards Artificial General Intelligence, where computers get closer to human-like intelligence.
ii) 2017 will see the rise of new interfaces. While today’s dominant human-computer interaction is done through the display and visualisation, mostly on mobile, new interfaces like voice, audio, messaging etc. will start seeping into everyday life. More data will be collected, structured and analysed by machines which will deliver the results to humans through conversational interfaces.
Allison Baum, Fresco Capital, Tokyo
i) Increase in cross-border M&A – The US startup ecosystem is ripe for consolidation and most corporates in Asia are currently cash rich but innovation poor. We are already starting to see the beginning of this trend with our own portfolio companies, where we are receiving inbound interest from international companies looking for new business lines, tech IP, or an entry point into the US.
ii) Edtech goes mainstream – Education technology has incorrectly been identified and relegated to a niche market. However, the combination of the economic and political turmoil we’re seeing in all corners of the world, and a rapidly accelerating rate of technological progress (self driving cars are very real now), jobs are going to be in focus. Tech related and tech enabled training will no longer be a nice to have, but instead a critical need for the health of individuals, corporations, governments, and society as a whole.
Over the last few years, finance has undergone change as technology shifts the landscape on what is possible. With the up and coming PSD2 changes across Europe, I think the move to platform banking driven by an API economy will start to become clearer in 2017. Banks and technology companies will continue to adjust through collaboration to navigate this change.
Anja König, Novartis Venture Fund, Basel
I like to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” With this caveat in mind, one doesn’t have to be a wizard to predict that it will be easier for European companies and academic institutions to recruit top talent from the US.
All the best for 2017.