If you have even the faintest interest in tech, you’ll know that the sector is currently on fire. Hardly a day goes past without another supercool startup springing out of stealth mode, or a game-changing tech innovation hitting the headlines.
If Crest could enter Mastermind, we’re pretty sure that our specialist subject would be the tech startup sector. Nothing gives us more pleasure than coming across a new 15-minute drone-operated grocery startup operating exclusively in the metaverse and powered by blockchain and biohacked seaweed. Sifted is our bible; TechCrunch our bedtime story; WIRED is our daily bread (only half joking here).
We can’t keep quiet about our latest tech obsessions, so we’ve decided to share them with you in one bumper blog post. Read on for a sneak peek into the trends that look set to be even bigger than the Wordle craze of January 2022.
Jess F’s pick: Climate-friendly foodtech and agritech
The secret is out: climate catastrophe is on the horizon and we need to act now.
And, according to the latest research and data analysis:
- Food production accounts for over a quarter (26%) of global greenhouse gas emissions
- 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture
- Farming for food is responsible for 78% of global ocean and freshwater eutrophication (the pollution of waterways with nutrient-rich pollutants)
- Over a third of all food produced globally is wasted
Clearly, reimagining and recreating the global food system is one of the biggest and most important challenges facing our generation. And investors agree – hundreds of millions of VC pounds are pouring into the sector, fuelling a rush of ingenious food tech and agritech tech innovation:
- Companies like Mosa Meat and Meatable are producing ever-more realistic fake flesh – with a fraction of the carbon footprint of real meat
- Vertical farming promises to dramatically reduce the energy and water demands of traditional agriculture: Infarm, a Berlin-based startup that has developed vertical farming tech for grocery stores and restaurants, is a trailblazer in this area
- In a bid to tackle food waste, FartherFarms has developed technology to preserve food for months beyond when it would normally spoil, without the need for refrigeration, freezing, or the use of artificial preservatives
- Israeli startup N-Drip has created a disruptive technology that provides precise irrigation, and higher crop yields while saving water -without adding energy or needing water filtration
Libby’s pick: Talent war tech
The pandemic has turned the world of work on its head, and further blurred the line between our personal and professional lives. For employers, the challenge is winning the talent war and keeping hold of staff. For employees, the priority is striking work-life balance. Tech firms have solutions for both.
- A new style of recruitment, pioneered by Applied, is helping employers find (and keep) the creme de la creme of talent…Crucially, tech-enabled ‘skills-based’ hiring is making the process a whole lot fairer. Gone are the days of bias-prone CVs and interviews. Their empirical, data-backed approach objectively determines the best person for each job by testing for role-relevant skills. It’s a win-win. Employers unlock previously overlooked, diverse talent, whilst candidates get a fair chance to find a job they’re truly suited to – no matter what their background. And the upshot is that those hires stay: retention rates increase from 83% to 93% on average.
- When it comes to job-hunting, Flexa is leading the way for workers who’ve had a taste of working from home, thrived, and want more…By vetting and verifying companies’ flexible working policies, the platform is creating transparency about what’s on offer for job seekers: and it’s so much more than home-offices. From dog-friendly offices and ‘pawternity’ leave, to ‘work from anywhere’ policies and total flexitime. Greater freedoms are making for happier and more engaged workforces, and they’re not the only tech start-up helping everyone reap the rewards…
- Hofy is a subscription service that lets companies rent physical equipment for their distributed workforces; Rock is a platform to centralise comms, apps and software across remote teams; OfficeTogether is a tool to schedule office reservations for hybrid-working companies; and Hubble calculates companies’ ideal blend of fixed office and on-demand workspaces, whilst also organising WFH perks (think: cocktail-making kits for socials and artisan coffee deliveries).
Emma’s Pick: Mental health tech
In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic lies another equally serious national health emergency. Multiple lockdowns, widespread financial uncertainty and a collective grief have all exacerbated a pre-existing mental health care crisis in the UK. Research shows that:
But it’s not all bad news. Over the course of the past two years, we’ve also witnessed an explosion in tech innovation rising to meet and support the needs of our mental wellbeing.
- Diagnostic accuracy is being improved by innovators offering new ways of identifying and monitoring disorders. One company leading the way is Thymia, who use gamification to analyse users’ speech patterns and microexpressions as markers of depression.
- Companies like MindLabs and HelloBetter are making it easier for people to access courses aimed at treating stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, others like KeepAppy, are providing users with a mobile “mental health gym”, in which they can track their mood and behaviour on their phone.
- In the workplace, HR teams are arming themselves with the tools to effectively monitor employee wellbeing. Platforms like Dear Employee and Virti Feedback Suite are helping facilitate this and transform the way wellbeing is managed at work.
And wider reforms to the Mental Health Act are being supported by companies like Thalamos, who are digitising treatment pathways to make acute mental health care swifter, simpler and safer. Removing the obstacles and errors inherent to paper-based form sharing and data collection, this innovation is helping speed up access to care, remove bias and support patients along a journey to recovery.
Chrys’s pick: Proptech
When you think of the property sector, innovative tech is probably not the first thing that springs to mind. This is a space plagued by exhausting admin, pointless process and overly-complicated legal jargon.
But times are changing, and the emergence of property technology (or, ‘proptech’) is helping to bring the sector into the 21st century.
Whether you’re a family of five looking to buy a new home, or a student searching for a room to rent during your second year, the whole ordeal is now slightly less painful.
- Digital referencing now allows landlords to vet potential tenants in minutes through leading platforms such as Goodlord and Vouch
- Organising service providers – from the gas and electricity to the Wifi and water – is now also incredibly simple; it can all be done through new ‘home move assistant’ tools and property management portals
So, whilst not necessarily the most obvious of contenders, proptech is emerging as a seriously innovative sector: one to watch, for sure!
Jess S’s pick: Circular economy tech
Following the concerning reports that surfaced during COP26 last year, research has revealed that we need to double global circularity from 8.6% to 17% by 2030 in order to slash greenhouse gas emissions and slow down climate change.
However, thanks to an increase in circular economy startups, the UK’s second hand market has recorded an impressive 404% yearly increase in pre-loved item sales since the start of 2018. Second hand is no longer second best, and the circular economy tech space is leading the charge on democratising sustainable shopping.
- Platforms such as By Rotation and the little loop have paved the way for second hand renting in the fashion marketplace, allowing customers to reduce their material footprints and avoid fast fashion options.
- Another company encouraging families to avoid throwaway culture is YoungPlanet. The cashless app allows families to regift and exchange parenting and children’s items for free, helping them to save money and unnecessary landfill contributions.
- Globechain allows enterprises to redistribute their items across locations, stores and offices. The platform provides internal reuse or external loaning systems to businesses in construction and retail sectors to reduce their waste disposal and sustainably support other companies.
- OLIO is committed to reducing food waste through its free-sharing app. The company encourages neighbours and businesses to pass on fresh and uneaten food in order to save natural resources and prevent unnecessary food production.
Are you an innovative tech startup looking for support with PR and communications? Get in touch with Crest today!