What the World Could Look Like in 2040

“The best way to build the future is to create it” the quote from Peter Drucker best explains Singularity Universities vision for the world of tomorrow.

Earlier last month I had the opportunity to attend Singularity University’s demo day at NASA in Silicon Valley. SU is a global community and accelerator that uses the phrase ‘exponential’ to describe the focus of their entrepreneurs who take part in their programs.

The energy was high, the demo tables were bare, but had just enough energy to catch a passerby interest. Eleven early stage companies were set to pitch on exponential technologies which shape industry on earth and in space. I chose six of them to spotlight below.

Keep in mind, most all of these entrepreneurs are top researchers in their specialty and not web geniuses as some of their websites are in general underwhelming.

Here are the top 6 companies shaping the future (in no particular order)…

#1 — REBEAM

I’m sitting, I’m ready, and we jump straight into space.

Problem: We have solar power and huge areas where we can generate it, ex. Sahara Desert but transferring it globally is an issue.

Solution: REBEAM uses a microwave emitting machine to shoot large mirrors on satellites to then transfer power to other grids world-wide.

If that doesn’t already sound cool enough then you should hear the practical application. Drones. For those of you who own them, they normally stay charged for about thirty minutes until they die. With this technology we can keep drones flying for indefinite periods of time.

#2 — DEEP BLOCKS

Problem: Normally with construction groups, underwriters, etc. this process can take months and now with Deep Blocks turns into a day.

Solution: Deep Blocks takes the building planning process and completely streamlines it with AI. Give whatever consumer building the numbers right off the bat.

They’re still early but definitely a group to keep tabs on.

#3 — CLINICAI

What’s brown and sticky?

… a stick, but if you were thinking poop then you’ve arrived to the best place for this group.

Problem: We aren’t doing a great job at detecting cancer early.

Solution: Clinicai wants to take your poop, measure the frequency, smell, and size with a sensor attached to your toilet bowl. These researchers believe that we can detect early onset of colon cancer as well as a slew of other diseases from the comfort of your bathroom and their technology.

#4 — ASTROLAB

Manufacturing on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere. The Space Economy. The new frontier.

Take dust on the moon, what can we make from this? Well these material scientists (who met at the European Space Agency) had identified a problem they could solve.

Problem: One of the biggest issues of space exploration was the fact that we were limited in supplies. If we wanted to build colonies or even research bases how would we do that?

Solution: Astro Lab uses autonomous robots to collect and gather materials, aka dust and dirt, and let’s use them in larger robots with the capacity for 3D printing.

Where do these guys even start, well their idea is Earth. They want to start utilizing surplus materials to create the technology here to then port it to a more interplanetary use.

In the words of the great Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even mad, that’s amazing”

#5 — ARFIJI

Problem: African consumers don’t have access to affordable refrigeration essential to keeping foods, medicines, and other items cold.

Solution: Affordable off-grid solar refrigeration. The pain points of cooling and staying cool are fixed with Afriji’s hardware.

I wish I had more information on hand but again, these founders are all research based and didn’t have the best data on their websites. Definitely worth emailing them if you’re interested in affordable tech for African countries.

#6 — INTELLIGENT SPACE

Problem: The ratio between unused to usable satellites in space is about 3:1. This means for every three working satellites in space that we have one that works.

Solution: Intelligent Space is taking a stab and cleaning space debris and monetizing it. Recycling for space.

Honorable mention:

NUTRIGENE

Problem: How do you know what nutrients you’re deficient in?

Solution: Hardware that interacts with software to learn your nutrient deficiencies and sends you packets of personalized vitamins to take daily. A big ticket item possibly for those who take vitamins regularly, great food for thought (you see what I did there?).

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That’s it for the round-up! Always looking to talk more about future tech, stay tuned for more posts via my LinkedIn or shoot me an email – brett@500.co //

Turbo Charging Growth: 500 Partners with GM

After 19 batches since 2010, we’ve seen our companies experience the impact of strong mentorship. Today, 500 Startups, is announcing a Seed Program collaboration between General Motors and 500 focused right here in Silicon Valley as an effort to continually evolve and heighten our programs.

Our first corporate partner track aligns with GM’s vision to be innovative, autonomous, connected, electrified, and to create solutions that truly change the value and sustainability of transportation to enhance customers’ lives.

This partnership with GM will provide important resources developed to give access and knowledge transfer to one of the largest global automotive companies in the world.

When is this happening?

Starting January 23rd, we will open the first class as part of Batch 20’s Seed Program which includes: VC funding, exposure to corporate infrastructure, demo day, mentorship from GM, plus the opportunity of possible follow-on funding from GM.

Apply now! Deadline is December 31st. And while we are selecting ~5 companies for the GM specialized track, we still have a couple openings left.

The GM partnership will also continue for Batch 21 which will start in April of 2017.

What we’re looking for:

We’re looking for strong teams who focus on

  •         Mobility services
  •         Machine learning
  •         Virtual Reality
  •         Robotics
  •         Additive manufacturing

“Working with 500 Startups will help us identify early-stage startups that could have relevance for automotive, but are either services or supporting technologies rather than merely vehicle features. Being able to mentor startup companies and learn from them is important, and 500 Startups has a track record of finding this talent globally.”  – Jon Lauckner, CTO of General Motors

The specialized GM track will be run by Robert Neivert (pictured below), Lupin Campos, Aaron Blumenthal, and several members of the GM’s Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office. This track allows companies access to GM’s vast automotive knowledge to help companies build a product with strong market fit and the tools to grow. Connecting and understanding the groups behind innovation will help fuel advancement. And General Motors gets that.

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Read more about the 500 + GM partnership in TechCrunch here.