Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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January 23, 2019 | Tom Ballard

OUTLOOK SERIES PART 4: Technology sectors of interest in 2019

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to the participation of Angel and Venture Capitalists located in East Tennessee, we are able to annually offer their insights on the past year’s activities and their outlook for 2019. This is the fourth article in this year’s series.)

Today’s question that we posed was as follows: “What technology sectors do you think will be hot in 2019?”

Grady Vanderhoofven, President and Chief Executive Officer, Three Roots Capital: Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and deep learning that automates or accelerates information-gathering and decision-making, tools that enable or allow real-time interaction with a customer, cyber security.

Courtney Watson, Partner, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund: I am not one to make predictions on what is hot, but there are trends I see and areas of interest that speak to me. In no particular order, some of the sectors and intersections that I believe will have attention include:

  • Security + Privacy: In the wake of so many continued security breaches, the need for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance, and the ever-growing sharing economy, I believe and hope for new technologies and businesses that help support consumers increasing desire for digital products/services while also their simultaneous and elevated demand for security, privacy, authenticity, and credible information.
  • Money + Millennials: Seismic changes in demographics are redefining relationships with money. Specifically, Millennials are pushing new ways to save, bank, invest and the reason why any it matters. Innovations to serve this segment and the wealth they will be inheriting and creating will continue to unfold.
  • Agriculture + Localism: The rise in agtech to create more efficient and effective food systems and the rise of localism will continue to converge and hopefully help to solve food insecurity problems across the U.S. while also bringing more local producers to the foreground.
  • Cloud + Canopy + Cities: The rise of cloud computing and the incredibly fast growth of connected devices and real-time analytics is giving more importance to infrastructure that is closer to home, what I am calling the canopy. The business and civic decisions to determine optimal architecture, hardware, software, data storage choices will only become more complex as the promise of the IoT and AI continue to come to fruition. New services and technologies will continue to play out in this place, and I am curious to watch them from a smart cities perspective.
  • Real estate tech + Opportunity Zones: Funding in real estate tech crossed $1 billion (Pwc/CB Insights) for the first time. Coupled with the Opportunity Zone legislation that has the potential to drive significant spend into real estate property, the evolution of technology platforms and services serving this sector will be one to watch.

Ken Woody, President, Innova Memphis: Agtech looks very strong to us. AI and machine learning are emerging into many new sectors. Sensors and drones and remote monitoring are hot.

Eric Dobson, Chief Executive Officer, Angel Capital Group: We are seeing advanced materials, medical devices, fintech, and many “hard” science ventures coming into the market, which we regard as good and healthy.

Tony Lettich, Managing Director, The Angel Roundtable: We expect to continue to see the bulk of our opportunities in tech, (IT, Software, Mobile, IoT, etc.) and in healthcare (excluding Pharma). Additionally, our expectation is that AI will become significantly more vibrant across the spectrum during 2019. We consider Blockchain opportunities a wildcard which may grow significantly as well if the sector is able to address the perception issues that hang over it related to “crypto currencies.”

Kristina Montague, Managing Partner, The JumpFund: Fintech solutions disrupting traditional banking and addressing the needs of the unbanked and Millennials continue to evolve and grow. Cybersecurity is also in high demand with recent large digital security breaches and we continue to see SaaS products incorporating both AI and Blockchain into their service delivery systems.

John Morris, Fund Manager, The Lighthouse Fund: Machine learning and AI, cybersecurity and additive manufacturing.

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