At the start of this year I wrote a piece highlighting four Internet of Things (IoT) trends to look out for in 2017. At the top of that list was a potential increase in the number of impactful B2B and industrial solutions within IoT, particularly when it came to factories, agriculture, cities and the community. Four months on and, having completed our first Startupbootcamp IoT accelerator program with nine startups, I’m even more confident in that prediction.
Having seen how investors have reacted to our first cohort of IoT startups, and having spoken to a wide range of people on this topic, I’m clear that up to this point we’ve really only seen IoT 1.0. A first version that has demonstrated some clear customer and business benefits, yet one that has created a deluge of useless connected products. However, the fast evolution from machine learning to AI, and the rising importance of creating impactful technology, is pointing the way to IoT 2.0; a system of connected devices that positively impacts society by reducing wastage and increasing performance, thus allowing IoT to become the massive business opportunity we were all promised.
Consumer and Industrial Applications in IoT 2.0
As we move further into 2017 IoT will be less about the shiny consumer gadgets we see at CES and more about connected devices that have a positive impact on communities. Health and education spring to mind immediately, with the development of immersive technologies such as VR and AR at the center of this, yet other areas including sustainability, managing biodiversity and conservation are gathering momentum. The world’s increasing population is quite literally eating into resources that are either finite or that we can’t replenish quickly enough. Combatting this is a big task for any startup but it’s an area of IoT that we’ll be looking closely at for our second program at Startupbootcamp IoT.
Of course Industrial IoT and the buzz around it is no new thing (ThingTrax – a startup within our first program – is part of this with their predictive maintenance solution), but as more investment floods this field I’m expecting IoT’s fortunes to go hand-in-hand with those of the Industrial IoT. In this proposed IoT 2.0 we may even have to redefine IoT by separating it from the consumer devices the term now covers. Retail, manufacturing, factories, infrastructure and buildings will be at the heart of this, but I would again go back to our need for increased sustainability, particularly when it comes to energy and agriculture, to drive IoT 2.0 forward.
What this Means for Startupbootcamp IoT
At Startupbootcamp IoT our mission is very clear: to make the journey of building a connected hardware startup clearer, shorter, and more successful for entrepreneurs. However, we also recognise that IoT needs to play an increasingly prominent role in improving our communities, cities and environments.
It’s for this reason that, as we open our call for applications for our second program, we’re especially looking to work with startups who are contributing to the version of IoT 2.0 outlined above. The current presence of large incumbents with legacy systems in place means this is no easy space for a startup to be working in, but that’s where good partners come in, whether that’s accelerators such as Startupbootcamp IoT, mentors or experienced investors.
This next stage of IoT is extremely exciting. I’m optimistic about both the business and societal impacts of it and looking forward to working with startups that feel the same.