What do space research, biotechnology, robotics, quantum computers, semiconductors and advanced materials development have in common? All these areas of research and development fall under the so-called deep technologies, shifting the focus from the digital to the physical world, from bits to atoms. Deep tech is that set of innovative and frontier technologies founded on scientific discoveries, engineering, mathematics, physics and medicine. Technological innovations capable of bringing truly meaningful progress for humanity. The deep tech approach is based precisely on the convergence between different disciplinary domains (advanced science and engineering, but also design) and between different technological clusters (computation and cognition, sensing and motion, matter and energy), broadening the focus from the digital world (just bits) to the physical world (AI and behavioral and neural sciences, IoT and robotics, nanotechnology and synthetic biology). The deep tech approach, moreover, is problem-driven and not technology-driven. This leads to looking not for the best use case to apply a new technology, but for the best technology, new or existing, to solve an old problem.
Deep technologies are not only digital and include life science, computing, food tech and agri-tech, aerospace, energy and clean-tech, industrial technologies, telecom, new materials, chemistry. One can also include artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning, quantum computing, biotech, energy, new materials, blockchain, robotics, space tech, nuclear fusion.
The first characteristic of deep tech concerns the great impact on society and the economic value of its applications. Health and well-being are among the main targets, along with environmental protection. They are innovations that require a long processing time before they reach maturity to be adopted by the market. Finally, these technologies require large amounts of capital for their development and deployment, usually relying on different players in the public and private world (universities, startups, investors, companies...).