With a lot of the startup information cycle centered on unprecedented funding round sizes and record amounts of time bootstrapping, we don’t usually step again from the numbers to have a tough take into consideration innovation. However as we speak, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The Trade gained early entry to pi Ventures’ Deep Tech Shifts 2026 report, which identifies 15 deep tech subsectors the agency believes will attain an inflection level by 2026.
The research is backed by analysis, however pi Ventures’ founding companion Manish Singhal says its findings are additionally knowledgeable by conversations with entrepreneurs.
The Trade explores startups, markets and cash.
Predicting 15 shifts
Under are 15 sectors during which pi Ventures expects “disruptive innovation that may result in key shifts in international companies” within the subsequent half-decade:
- Different protein: superfluous to important.
- Blockchain: promising to mainstream.
- Mind-computer interface: measurement to perception.
- Local weather tech: incidental to vital.
- Information privateness: identifiable to nameless.
- Vitality storage: Li-Ion to different chemistries.
- Enterprise workflows: human to human + Al.
- Healthcare screening: reactive to proactive.
- MLOps: in-house to managed providers.
- Nature co-design: supplies to biomaterials.
- Quantum computing: supremacy to benefit.
- Robotics: automation to cognition.
- House tech — in-space: deployment to in-space administration.
- House tech — launch: customization to democratization.
- Artificial content material creation: informal to industrial.
First off, let’s make clear that “nature co-design” refers to biomaterials, and “artificial content material creation” is about AI-generated textual content, photos and audio, which pi expects to escalate from informal use instances to industrial.
A matter of timing
Singhal informed TechCrunch that the agency just lately started deploying its second fund of $100 million — a major step up from its preliminary fund, which invested $30 million in 15 corporations primarily based in or with a connection to India. This time round, pi’s aim is to take a position into 25 early-stage startups.
Based mostly in Bangalore, pi’s web site boasts of “pioneering deep tech investments in India.” Not all the businesses in its portfolio are primarily based there, however all of them have a powerful reference to the nation: ML-powered shopper pattern prediction platform AI Palette is predicated in Singapore, with an engineering hub in Bangalore, whereas psychological well being app Wysa has workplaces in Bangalore, Boston and London.
Singhal says pi’s aim is to again corporations which might be “international innovators” — aiming past India or any single market and leveraging deep tech. “We need to again disruptive innovation, moderately than incremental innovation,” he mentioned. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, pi’s web site notes that it doesn’t put money into “pure science or analysis” — it’s searching for the “intersection of scalable companies and disruptive expertise.”
Timing is vital to what pi is doing, a indisputable fact that underpins the 67 pages of its new report. “If you happen to make investments too early in an innovation, then you’ll have suboptimal returns,” Singhal mentioned. “If you happen to make investments too late, you might also find yourself getting suboptimal returns, as a result of it’s now not a cutting-edge factor. If funding and the timing of innovation attending to a resonance level come collectively, then good issues occur.”
A framework for inflection factors
That is the place pi Ventures in-house framework is available in, that includes a “demand and provide resonance map” to research deep tech shifts. You will note it at play within the two examples we’ll discover, however the normal thought is summed up within the chart beneath:
I discovered this to be a great tool to research traits, and I feel it might be of use for traders with completely different time horizons and theses, too.
Because it beforehand defined in a blog post, pi Ventures’ space of curiosity is “the artwork of potential.” Dubbed as such by one in every of its restricted companions, Raj Shah, that falls beneath zone B, and which “it’s apparent to take a look at [ … ] for stability between market demand and state-of-the-art expertise,” in addition to zones C and E, “to account for momentum as properly.”