Startups: The Next Generation

Technology trends tend to change as quickly and often as fashion trends. Every new advancement sparks a niche industry of startups looking to capitalize on the latest breakthrough, and every incubator program and venture capitalist firm wants to be the first to nurture the next big thing.

Previous trends have led to the current rise of the Internet of Things, smart devices, self-driving cars, delivery drones, and virtual reality apps. The next wave of startups seems to be more focused on digital inclusion and harnessing the power of technology to do the most good.

There are currently three industries that are experiencing a high level of growth and interest in the startup investment community. Let’s take a look at the trends and a few companies in each industry that have already made great advancements.

1. Biotech Startups

Science and technology combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning are paving the way for human longevity and may even lead to a cure for cancer and other terminal illnesses.

IoT wearables can now track, analyze, and diagnose patients in real time.  Genetics and DNA testing products are surging in popularity. As more and more big data is collected from these new applications, startups focused on using all of this information to create new solutions are seeing a surge in interest from venture capital firms.

Here are a few startup biotech companies that have found a way to combine the power of artificial intelligence and biology to help us all live longer and healthier lives.


Founded in 2017, Boragen has developed a way to leverage Boron chemistry for crop protection and animal health. The company focuses on developing environment-friendly fungicide and animal parasitics.

With a mission to fill key innovation gaps in farming and agriculture while upholding stewardship practices, Boragen is set to wipe out resistant pathogens that can threaten the food supply.

In 2016, Boragen raised a $10 million Series A funding round from AgTech Accelerator.


AI genomics company Freenome specializes in early detection and prevention of diseases through a combination of artificial intelligence, biology, and computer science. The company’s mission is to “reinvent disease management through early detection and precision intervention through a fusion of artificial intelligence, biology, and computer science.” 

Founded in 2014, Freenome developed an Adaptive Genomics Engine (AGE) that can diagnose a patient by looking at cell-free DNA data in the bloodstream.

Just last month, Freenome announced its partnership with Biognosys to enhance its broad-signal approach to early-cancer detection and precision oncology.

Tango Therapeutics

Another startup focused on cancer treatment, Tango Therapeutics was launched in March of 2017. The company works with DNA sequencing to develop new medicines and treatments for cancer by focusing on synthetic lethality, which is the interaction between two genes that leads to cell death when both are inactivated.

Tango aims to “go beyond current cancer treatments and target unaddressed disease mechanisms to develop transformational new drugs for patients.” Through the use of genetic data from patient tumors and CRISPR genome editing technology, Tango is well-positioned as a leader in cancer research and treatment.

Just a little over a year old, Tango received a $55 million Series A investment round from Third Rock Ventures.

2. IoT Security Startups

The more we all become accustomed to the convenience of smart devices in our homes, cars and offices, the more opportunity cyber criminals have to steal our personal information.

Ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks have been on the rise for the last several years and tend to target easily hackable IoT devices that are accessed via non-secure wireless networks. Finding new ways to secure the Internet of Things has created a niche market.

The following tech companies are experiencing breakthroughs when it comes to securing the Internet of Things.


Armis is an agentless security solution for IoT devices that helps companies monitor and control every connected device throughout their network.

Founded in 2015, Armis is already protecting many Fortune 100 companies. The company was recently featured as part of CRN’s 2017 Internet of Things 50 list, which showcases innovative solutions in the IoT space.

In April of this year, Armis raised $30 million in Series B funding.

Nanolock Security, Inc.

Founded in 2016, NanoLock specializes in security for IoT and connected devices. The solution helps to prevent ransomware and other types of malicious attacks.

NanoLock has the ability to protect billions of IoT devices with its patent-protected hardware and software solution. It prevents attacks from writing malware to an operating system.

The company recently raised $4.5 million via Canada’s Awz Homeland Security Fund. The fund invests exclusively in Israeli cybersecurity, intelligence and physical security technology.

Pwnie Express

Pwnie Express seeks to fill the security gap that exists because of the growth in IoT and connected devices across organizations. The company provides complete threat detection services for every single wireless device in a network.

Pulse – Pwnie’s proprietary solution – identifies threats to connected devices and gives users the proper tools to respond to and manage potential hacks. Device discovery and classification is performed continually and eliminates the need for agents or network changes.

The company announced it had raised $8 million in new funding back in November of 2017.

3. Robotics

Robotics projects is yet another niche in the startup community that is experiencing increased attention from venture capitalists. In addition to novel conveniences like smart vacuums and home assistants, robots have the ability to take humans out of harm’s way in industries like law enforcement, natural disasters and the military.

Several startups specializing in robotic technology have already produced robots that are patrolling parking lots, protecting and enhancing our food supply, and helping people with spinal cord injuries walk again.

Blue River Technology

Blue River Technology invented the Lettuce Bot, which is also known as a “Roomba for weeds.” The company is focused on making farming more sustainable through the use of robotics.

Blue River’s “See and Spray” technology is used in smart devices attached to tractors. These devices can identify which plants need fertilizer and which require pesticide.

Last year, Blue River was acquired by John Deere for $305 million.


Knightscope is a manufacturer of security robots that are currently deployed in and around Silicon Valley.

The company’s Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs) were designed to patrol parking lots, malls, and other public spaces. The technology utilizes geo-fencing and IoT sensors to monitor, record and alert authorities to crimes in progress.

New models include a bot that can detect concealed weapons and a multi-terrain vehicle to be used in places such as airports and prisons.

ReWalk Robotics

Can you imagine being able to give quadriplegics the ability to walk again? Dr. Amit Goffer, the founder of ReWalk Robotics, imagined it. Then he developed it.

An exoskeleton designed by Dr. Goffer was cleared for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014. This year, ReWalk Robotics was named to The World’s Most Innovative Companies list by Fast Company.

The robotic exoskeletons give patients with spinal cord injuries the ability to stand up, walk, turn and climb up and down stairs. There is also a version designed specifically for use in rehabilitation facilities.

What’s next?

What do we have to look forward to in the next wave of niche startups?

Mixed reality solutions such as VR tech and applications that cater to Google augmented reality are already on the rise.  Another technology trend gaining ground is clean energy, especially carbon removal startups.

With each new breakthrough, entrepreneurs focused on these new technologies are poised to start a new class of startups that will be heavily supported by both the incubator and investment communities.