When it comes to sectors with the greatest potential to change lives in the future, you only need to look where high-profile early-stage investor such as Tom Chapman, David Tisch, and Brook Byers are putting their money.
Today’s investors don’t just want a great return they also want to invest in startups with a mission and vision that aligns with their own. Increasingly, this revolves around disrupting the status quo and improving lives around the world.
Here are three sectors that are set to do just that:
1. Cannabis-related products
According to the National Institute of Health, people have used cannabis to treat illnesses for at least 3,000 years, although its effectiveness is still debated. But over the last five years, a wave of new research has shown the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Subsequently, many countries have relaxed their laws around the use of this drug, and patients’ lives are improving steadily.
In the USA, 29 states plus the District of Columbia have now made marijuana available for medical purposes. Canada has legalised the use of cannabis and even the UK is starting to relax its laws on medical use. Changes in attitudes and legislation mean it’s set for a new startup boom and only likely to expand in 2020 as governments continue to chip away at the law.
Cannabis is already a stable industry in the USA and Canada and is attracting billions of dollars’ worth of investment. Marysville manufacturer Scotts Miracle-Gro has spent $1 billion on acquisitions since 2014 to build its horticultural supply subsidiary, with clients including cannabis cultivators.
Companies and investors are drawn not only by the widespread interest in medical cannabis by the public but also because more and more countries in Europe and the West are recognising the medical benefits and relaxing their laws to the use of the drug.
A relaxation in the law, combined with increased public demand for medicinal cannabis, is a recipe for rapid startup growth.
2. Renewable energy and other green industries
Renewable energy is on the rise again as countries recognise the urgency of climate change and seek to make the long-term transition from fossil fuels to climate-friendly energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal. Renewable energy might not have entirely eclipsed the use of fossil fuels yet, but that day is coming sooner than we think.
Over the last ten years, this industry has been gathering steam, particularly in Europe, and it now employs more than 10 million people worldwide. From rooftop solar panels to mass wind farms, green energy is becoming increasingly mainstream, and some countries subsidise certain products.
With climate change rightly at the top of the agenda globally, it’s no surprise that the demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is also rising. In the US particularly, mass transit agencies are increasingly looking to minimise the carbon footprint of their cities.
As a result, US sales of hybrid and electric buses are forecast to grow more than 7% per year through to 2022, bolstered by technological advances that have made these vehicles run cleaner, smoother, and quieter.
In Europe, there is a similar trend taking place. Volvo has been testing new wireless technologies for electric bus charging in Sweden. This tech will be combined with the high-power inductive charging technology the company recently acquired along with Philadelphia-based startup, Momentum Dynamics.
The public demand for green energy-saving products is growing fast, and it’s only set to increase as climate change continues to rise firmly up the political and social agenda in every country worldwide.
3. Fintech – a booming sector
No one can doubt that Fintech has already taken off, but the sky’s the limit for this booming industry; which is a good thing when you consider how many people in the world still do not have access to a bank account. These ‘unbanked’ are severely disadvantaged when it comes to improving their own lives and that of their community. But fintech is changing everything.
According to a 2016 study, 200,000 households in Africa have been lifted out of extreme poverty thanks to fintech, and close to the same amount of women have been empowered to start their own businesses across the continent. In India, fintech has also lifted many thousands out of poverty and the sector is booming there too, with some estimates putting the market worth as much as $31 billion by 2020.
The centre of the fintech world is currently the UK and their investors are still piling into the sector. In fact, the London Stock Exchange shows UK-based Fintech firms are expecting 88% growth over the next three years.
If fintech is going to pull more people out of poverty we need as many startups as we can get. Investors certainly have a global appetite to put their money on fintech startups. According to KPMG, investment in fintech worldwide in the first half of 2018 amounted to a record $57.9 billion.
The most successful investors will be the ones who put their money into the industries in rapidly changing sectors, and these three are the ones to watch.