Top ten high tech opportunities
Up to 85 percent of technologies developed globally never see the commercial light of day because they founder in the so-called Valley of Death, the virtual chasm so often separating applied research from technology demonstration. To help investors circumnavigate these dangers, Frost & Sullivan has compiled a short list of top ten hot and emerging technology platforms well poised to profoundly impact manifold sectors across the globe while offering potential high ROI for investors.
The winners of Frost & Sullivan s global assessment were selected based on extensive research and selective methodology. The winning technologies are: nanomaterials, flexible electronics, advanced batteries and energy storage, smart materials, green IT, CIGS solar, 3D integration, autonomous systems, white biotech and lasers.
In a presentation on Global Top 10 Hot Technologies to Invest, Beatrice Shepherd, Frost & Sullivan s Director CEE, Russia & CIS, said "investors need to clearly understand the potential of a given technology platform to recognize the true market potency it holds and to assess risk-reward elements." Frost & Sullivan is often in a position to receive signals from investors searching for "the next big thing" and from innovators seeking sponsors to make their technology a commercial success.
Nanomaterials including nanotubes and nanoparticles have experienced many years of R&D efforts on a global scale. "Thanks to substantial advances in nanotech-enabled products, the markets for nanomaterials including nanotubes and nanocomposites will flourish in the coming decade," states Ankit Shukla, Industry Manager for Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights Group. "Similarly, flexible electronics, for example smart plastic used in ultra thin chip packages and flexible printed batteries, have applications in diverse industries including global medical devices, military, food packaging, supply chain, and consumer electronics markets, among others."
The thin film batteries (TFB), advanced batteries and energy storage markets will continue to benefit from increased R&D. They will find use in military applications such as soldier modernization and human energy harvesting and in consumer applications like portable devises, electric vehicles and micro UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). As this technology develops, the market will likely see the entrance of consumer applications using TFB in niche segments and alternate markets.
Smart materials, including autonomic materials, self-repairing plastic products and smart polymers for biomedical applications, sense changes in the surrounding environment and respond predictably. They hold immense potential across a wide range of industries. "Piezoelectric materials, which are useful in the production and detection of sound, generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, microbalances, and ultra fine focusing of optical assemblies, are expected to be among the fastest growth areas with a major portion of the overall market, according to Frost & Sullivan findings," notes Shukla.
Initiatives targeted at improving the energy efficiency of data centres have gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. Governments, standard bodies, and industry leading companies are actively involved in developing technologies that could improve data centre energy efficiency. "We rank high Green IT technologies as one of the top 10 taking into consideration that 18 per cent of total energy in the world is consumed by IT. Nowadays, with everybody looking to reduce operating costs, we anticipate a lot of developments in this technology in the short term," says Beatrice Shepherd.
The CIGS technology is expected to increase global solar power penetration significantly in the coming years thanks to its technological advantages, low manufacturing costs and high yield rates. Module costs are expected to fall by up to 45 per cent in the next four years, leading to massive deployments and growth opportunities for stakeholders involved in the CIGS solar markets. Key markets to watch are USA, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, China, South Korea and Japan.
Frost & Sullivan also recognises autonomous systems as the next important technology. Most of the developments and technology breakthroughs in autonomous systems have their origin in military projects and applications. However, civilian demand is also picking up with applications including civil services, first responders, homeland security, etc. Globally, on-going programs in related areas are currently worth 11 billion USD.
White biotech is considered by many to be a hidden solution. It involves the use of micro-organisms and biological catalysts like enzymes in the production of bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels. According to Frost & Sullivan, white biotech is expected to outstrip Green and Red Biotech as market demand picks up in the coming years. The potential market size for chemicals using White Biotech is expected to exceed 72 billion USD by 2014.
Lasers, including solid state, fibre, Ti:sapphire, diode, CO2, helium neon are expected to have a CAGR of 8.2 per cent from 2008 to 2014. The market for CO2 lasers is expected to grow due to demand for high power lasers in industrial applications (cutting and welding). YAG lasers also offer significant opportunity in industrial laser applications and medical lasers. High power solid state lasers are being increasingly used in military applications. Excimer lasers show promise in semiconductor and medical applications.