The Pioneer program is a 12-month experience during which 40 students from the Alta Scuola Politecnica ASP develop a high-tech product guided by companies, and then launch their innovative high tech startup. Deep tech plays a pivotal role in the program because we at SEI believe that it will be the saving grace of Europe’s innovation future. The Pioneers are innovatively challenged by international companies recognized as leaders in the following sectors: Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Robotics, Augmented Virtual and Mixed Reality, Space Tech, and Bio Engineering. All these sectors are fertile for deep-tech applications.
Deep tech 101
In a nutshell, deep tech is that set of cutting-edge and disruptive technologies based on scientific discoveries, engineering, mathematics, physics, and medicine. New technological applications that can have a profound impact on people’s and society’s lives. Swati Chaturvedi, Co-founder and CEO of Propel(x) and Partner at Newton Fund (both of which revolve around deep tech investment), gives a clear explanation of the meaning behind the term deep tech: “We define deep technology as companies founded on a scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovation.”
Deep tech vs normal tech
While it might seem obvious that all tech companies are built on the principles stated by Chaturvedi, it is in fact not the case. Most technology companies these days are built on business model innovation or offline to online business model transition using existing technology. Simply put, innovating what already exists. A perfect example would be Uber, which is built on the concept of a “sharing economy”, as their business model enables users to share existing resources.
Deep tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create and its potential to catalyse change. It is innovation from nothing that forms the basis of their (sometimes) incremental development. These companies and startups are trying to solve big issues that really affect the world around them. As a reference point, continuing the Uber example, deep-technology companies in the transportation business would include autonomous vehicles, flying cars or other similar transformative technologies. The likes of quantum tech, space-tech, nanotech, bio-engineering, material tech, artificial intelligence, robotics, to name but a few, all fit under the deep-tech umbrella.
Deep tech in the SEI ecosystem
If learning about deep tech has whetted your appetite and you’re interested in finding out more, be sure to check out this small selection of some of the deep-tech members in the SEI ecosystem:
- Echion Technologies (2018 SEI Torino Forum participant): supplying high-power Li-ion battery anode materials that enable superfast charging for a range of applications, from consumer electronics to electric vehicles
- Peptone (2019 SEI Torino Forum participant): accelerating protein biotechnology research with peer reviewed science and novel use of advanced machine learning and completely autonomous artificial intelligence
- 9T Labs (2019 SEI Torino Forum participant): automating and digitising composite manufacturing at scale with an all-in-one solution
- Isar Aerospace (2019 SEI Torino Forum participant): offering satellite constellations flexible, sustainable and cost-effective access to space, based on cutting-edge rocket engineering research, environmentally friendly propellants and advanced manufacturing