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Innovation Updates in November

In our monthly innovation updates, we provide you with an overview of the most relevant insights, best practices & tools from the innovation cosmos.

1. Frontier Technologies: Blessing or Curse?

Frontier technologies offer tremendous opportunities for economic growth and sustainable development. As highlighted in the Technology and Innovation Report 2021 of the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), today’s 11 cutting-edge technologies include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Big data
  • Blockchain
  • 3D printing
  • Robotics
  • Drones
  • Gene editing
  • 5G
  • Nanotechnology
  • Solar photovoltaics

These technologies together represent a $350 billion market with the potential to grow over $3.2 trillion by 2025, with IoT holding by far the largest share. 

However, the report also takes a critical look at this development. Not all countries are capable of equitably adopting and using these technologies in terms of ICT deployment, skills, R&D activity, industry activity, and access to finance. According to UNCTAD, the countries least ready for catching the technological wave are in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas Northern America and Europe are ranked first in the “readiness index”. This raises the question:  

Are frontier technologies widening the inequalities around the world? 

If low-and middle-income developing countries and the least-developed countries are not able to leverage the rapid technological change, “digital divides” could be created or increased between these countries and developed economies. Moreover, it also could have a serious impact on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The report points out that it is in the hands of policymakers to reduce the risk of increasing inequality and to create more equal opportunities for all. Countries must focus on strengthening and aligning science, technology, and innovation systems and industrial policies. Furthermore, digital skills of students and the workforce must be built and social protection for workers improved. Also, stronger international cooperation to build innovation capacities in developing countries or to facilitate technology transfer, for example, helps to harness the potential of frontier technologies for the common good, without leaving anyone behind. 

2. Top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2022 and Beyond

By 2025, 25% of companies will break up with bad customers. This is one of the top 10 strategic predictions for 2022 and beyond, recently published by Gartner. The predictions provide an outlook on what might happen in some of the most critical areas of technology and business development. By reflecting three dominant themes in the pandemic era - which are human centricity, resilience, and the ability to reach beyond our expectations - they allow assumptions for scenarios and strategic plans for the next three to five years.

  • 70% reduction of privacy violation sanctions by 2025: Synthetic data will reduce the collection of personal customer data and thus the risk of disclosing private consumer information.

  • 40% of consumers fight data collection by 2024: By tricking behavior tracking metrics, they intentionally devalue the personal data collected about them, making it difficult to monetize. 

  • 25% of companies neuromine subconscious behavior at scale by 2027: Neuromining will enable organizations to gain a deeper understanding of consumers which results in better customer relationships.

  • 30% of corporate teams will be without a boss by 2024: Due to agile development and hybrid work, teams no longer need a traditional manager role.

  • 30% increase in developer talent across Africa by 2026: With growing venture capital flowing into the region, it continues to evolve into a world-leading startup ecosystem. 

  • 80% of CIOs report better business performance by 2024: Modular business redesign, through composability, will be listed as a top-five reason for accelerated business performance.

  • G20 cyberattack breeds kinetic response by 2024: Critical infrastructure will be damaged so critically that a G20 member will reciprocate with a declared physical attack.

  • 75% of companies “break up” with bad customers by 2025: The cost of retaining poor-fit customers is higher in terms of money and time than the cost of acquiring good customers. 

  • NFTs drive high-value companies by 2026: Harnessing the potential of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for new business models and revenue streams, will propel companies into the top 10 most valuable companies.

  • 1 billion of the poorest people will get internet by 2027: Internet coverage will be extended by low-orbit satellites, raising 50% of the poorest out of poverty.

3. Our Trend of the Month: Road to Autonomy


The Road to Autonomy refers to the progressive adoption of autonomous driving technologies with acknowledgment of the challenges that must be overcome to achieve each next level of autonomy. Autonomous vehicles are categorized into five levels, with level one meaning that various automated characteristics—such as collision detection and lane departure warnings—are in place, and level five indicating fully driverless automation

While advancements in sensor and AI technology have made autonomous driving a reality in the last decade, technical obstacles remain. There is much debate around how machine learning algorithms should be trained, tested, and validated to ensure safety and standardization. Across all industries, the law lags behind development and the lack or stringency of regulations governing autonomous systems impacts adoption. Additionally, there is the need to demonstrate public safety of autonomous vehicles in order to raise social acceptance. 

The race to develop a world-class driverless system has begun, with automotive companies, large tech companies, startups, and academia vying for position.

Swiss researchers have created an “eye test” for autonomous vehicles to understand the long-term functioning of sensors, data collection, and response. In this way, sensors that have begun to lose their “vision” can be preemptively replaced. 

A new algorithm developed at the California Institute of Technology allows autonomous systems to identify their location simply by looking at the surrounding landscape—processing visual terrain-relative information. Deep learning technology works regardless of seasonal changes. 

US-based startup Halo has partnered with telecom company T-Mobile to introduce a fleet of remotely operated electric vehicles in the city of Las Vegas. Halo’s vehicles are designed to “learn” from their human operators as the company works towards full autonomy. 

To view more trends and inspirations for the automotive industry, explore the ITONICS Automotive Radar

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4. Fact of the Month: Top 10 Innovation Economies

The Global Innovation Index 2021, recently published by WIPO, presents the latest ranking of 132 economies based on their innovation capabilities, while also taking into account the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic. For measuring an economy’s innovative capacity,  These are the Top 10:

Rank Economy Score
1 Switzerland 65.5
2 Sweden 63.1
3 United States of America 61.3
4 United Kingdom 59.8
5 Republic of Korea 59.3
6 Netherlands 58.6
7 Finland 58.4
8 Singapore 57.8
9 Denmark 57.3
10 Germany 57.3

Economies with a large number of software, Internet, and communications technology firms, the hardware and electrical equipment industry as well as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology have invested more in innovation during the pandemic, while economies with a large transport and travel sector were hit heavily by the impact of COVID-19 and therefore cut back their outlays.

5. Your Daily Dose of Innovation

Want to get your daily dose of tech & innovation insights on Social Media? We recommend following these Twitter accounts:

Covers emerging technologies and their implications for society and policy.

Why follow? Future Tense is a great addition to your Twitter stream for daily updates on breakthrough tech innovations. From nanotechnology to AI or wearables, Future Tense wraps its stories in science fiction tales alongside real-life insights.

First-round investor in 18+ unicorns like Uber, Twilio, DigitalOcean +more.

Why follow? As the founder and managing partner at the startup accelerator Techstars, Cohen tweets about internet startups and the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry.


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