A Deep Dive into Deep Tech: Part 1

If you run a search for “deep tech”, the results can be quite muddy. Definitions vary and  companies put their own spin onto what deep tech means to them. This only serves to cloud the meaning of deep tech even more, to the point where this rather simple idea seems more complicated and knotty than a tangled ball of yarn.

That’s what this series is for. We’ve done the legwork, taking a look at all of those difficult definitions of deep tech, and summarized them into one overarching concept. We’ve also explored some of the companies leading the deep tech charge today and how they’re changing the future of enterprise.

Deep tech’s definition is, believe it or not, very simple. The innovation occurring as a result of deep tech, on the other hand, is anything but.

Defining Deep Tech

There’s a pervasive attitude in tech that makes people think new ideas have to sound complicated, even when the  concept itself is straightforward. In fact, it’s almost as if the tech world determines a minimum of four syllables for any word that makes up the definition of a technological idea.

Deep tech has fallen victim to this over and over. Take, for example, the first search result when “deep tech” from TechWorks. We’ve split the definition into four parts for easy digestion:

  • “We define Deep Tech as technology that is based on tangible engineering innovation or scientific advances and discoveries.
  • Deep Tech is often set apart by its profound enabling power, the differentiation it can create, and its potential to catalyze change.
  • Deep Tech companies often possess fundamental and defensible engineering innovations that distinguish them from those companies that are focused on the incremental refinement or delivery of standardized technologies or only use business model innovation to create opportunities.
  • Deep Tech can span across many technological areas and can impact diverse applications. On the technological front, these can include processing and computing architecture innovations, advances in semiconductors and electronic systems, power electronics, vision and speech algorithms and techniques, artificial intelligence and machine learning, haptics and more.”

Anyone else feel a little overwhelmed?

The term “deep tech” was first coined by Swati Chaturvedi in 2014. Her definition, applied here to her company’s primary investment targets of startups, is boiled down a bit more:

We define “deep technology startups” as companies that are founded on a scientific discovery or true technological innovation.

Chaturvedi created this term because she wanted a way of setting apart startups whose technologies have advanced mankind in a significant way, as well the central idea of deep tech. She argues that deep tech companies are a desirable investment since they are currently undervalued. However, with enough investment they can provide significant returns, and despite the fact that they “still carry risk and sometimes face longer roads to liquidity.”

Let’s Simplify Deep Tech

At this point, we still haven’t reached an easily digestible definition of deep tech. Therefore we offer the following, posing it as the clearest and easiest way to understand deep tech and hopefully ridding the world once and for all of a verbose explanation:

Deep tech is a brand new type of tech or scientific innovation that makes the world a better place.

That’s it. That’s really it. Now that we’ve defined exactly what deep tech is, watch this space for the next part in our series to really dig in deep.

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