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Publish dateFeb 2, 2021
Where is the pace of innovation, ideation and data heading? It’s a substantial question with multiple answers. Technology and those behind it are at their crux problem-solvers, and the world still has plenty of problems to solve.
In looking at technology’s future, Evolv started the year utilizing its next episode of Digital Threshold Live to talk about innovation, the art of the possible, tech trends that are emerging and what’s next.
Host Anil Chitkara, Evolv Technology Co-founder and Head of Corporate Development, invited Bilal Zuberi, Partner at Lux Capital and Evolv Advisor, to the show. Lux Capital focuses on “investing in people inventing the future.” Zuberi has a passion for startups that solve big, practical problems. His insight and experience brought lots of hot topics to the surface during the conversation.
Zuberi is a Pakistani immigrant that came to the U.S. for school whose father joked he should learn to make toothpaste.
“My dad told me to learn how to make toothpaste, because it was expensive, but they don’t teach you that studying chemistry,” he said.
What he did learn would fuel his American dream story. After earning his Ph.D. from MIT, he went from academia to industry.
“I wanted to make an impact on a greater number of people,” Zuberi said.
And he has by investing in companies that bring a greater value to society through technology that helps all and pushes humans to the next frontier.
The Source of Innovation Has Shifted
Zuberi also spoke about the major changes with innovation. The patent system began the invention economy, but innovation was top-down until the past few decades, starting with the military, then commercial, then the consumer.
The consumer technology evolution turned this around, as risk capital became available on the basis of an idea. Zuberi cites the iPhone is a great example. The touchscreen was a consumer product before it moved to other applications. That paradigm shift sets up where the world is now on innovation.
Tech Trends and Themes
So, how does Zuberi make investment decisions? Many times, it’s a process that starts with one company and plots a path.
“We invested in a company that made satellite antennas, and they told us about a company producing nanosatellites, and then that led to a company using machine learning and AI to process satellite imagery. Then it was a cloud company to hold the data,” he said.
The themes he’s currently most excited about are biocomputation and simulations. Simulations allow you to model the physics of the space then throw in many different variations of what could happen. This type of application is very conducive to security in venues.
“With scenario modeling to plan, then real-time responses improve, [it’s about] turning data into how to respond, not just what’s happening,” Zuberi explained.
Simulation can lead to better decision-making and making people and places safer. While the technology used in such an application isn’t unique, as it could be replicated, the differentiator is the speed of innovation.
What Did CES Show the World about Innovation?
To cap the conversation, Zuberi and Chitkara spoke about this year’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Trends that Zuberi picked up on relate to our current world.
“We’ve brought things outside of the home to the inside—education, healthcare, work, food, which leads to new problems and new technology,” he said.
Business models for technology are also evolving. First, it was sell something, then sell something better in two years. Then it was sell the hardware and the software. Now, the hardware is free, but the subscription is the revenue generator.
Other key topics included automation and specificity – the idea of a solution that’s smarter and more targeted, not simply automated, trends in sanitization, the infrastructure our world will need to better accommodate innovative technology solutions, and more.
The service is what matters now, Zuberi believes. He also noted that there’s a quote of “software eating the world.” The answer? Data and simulation can fill it back up. The trick is to use the data deliver better solutions and experiences.
You can view the OnDemand version of the webcast by clicking on the video below.