Innovation That Matters

Top 10 business ideas & opportunities for 2017

We’ve selected 10 new business ideas that will provide entrepreneurs with plenty of inspiration in 2017. Spotted from countries all around the world, these businesses offer a taste of what’s to come in the year ahead.

Blockchain technology used for green energy

We’ve only scratched the surface of Blockchain’s true potential, and we’re expecting to see many Blockchain-based innovations this coming year. A highlight from 2016 was Power Ledger, an Australian company using the tech to power a peer-to-peer renewable energy marketplace. Also of note was Storj, a decentralized cloud storage platform that is safe from cyber snooping. The technology is so versatile that we expect to see it applied across a huge number of industries this coming year — especially where there is a “middle man” to be replaced.

Read more about Power Ledger »

Could VR representations of news stories replace traditional forms of news media?

The future of media remains uncertain, and there are significant questions around the best strategies to monetise content — especially in print and news publishing. New platform, Emblematic, may offer a glimpse of the future, allowing those consuming news to be inside the story through VR simulation. This could lead to greater empathy among viewers, and change how to we consume and react to news stories in a profound way.

Read more about Emblematic »

Driverless car insurance protects against hacking

2017 will represent a huge step forward for driverless cars as we move into a period of full automation, and with these advances will come a number of questions and opportunities. For example, last year we saw non-driverless Belgian shuttle buses converted into portable office spaces. As driverless cars evolve, we expect to see driverless vehicle interiors increasingly designed in a similar way, to accommodate ‘on the go’ productivity and entertainment.

At the same time, there will inevitably be a number of ethical and security questions to be answered. Adrian Flux is already offering insurance for all aspects of driverless cars, such as automated parking and the hacking of connected systems.

Read more about Adrian Flux »

Energy efficient street lamps are also mosquito traps

To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, Researchers at University of Malaya developed street lights powered by wind and solar, which attract and trap mosquitoes using a ‘human’ scent.

Read more about Smart outdoor lighting system »

In Japan, an artificial intelligence has been appointed creative director

Automation will cause further disruption to the labor market in 2017. Just as mechanisation has had a profound effect on manual labour, AI is now similarly impacting traditional “white-collar” professions. For example, AI-CD β is an AI that is being treated as an actual employee by McCann Japan, contributing to the agency’s creative strategy. With 2016 also seeing the arrival of Armenia’s ever-evolving Lifos bots, AI being used to predict epidemics, and a Chinese AI-powered chatbot that provides medical diagnosis, 2017 will be a year dominated by even more breakthroughs in AI.

Read more about AI-CD β »

Online ratings turned into one reputation score

Deemly gives users one reliable, shareable ‘trustworthiness’ rating based on all of their online P2P accounts. We featured the innovation back in March 2016, foreshadowing China’s plans to trial ‘Citizen Scores’, which were announced much later that year — designed to punish and reward citizens based on their consolidated data.

Actually, the precedent in China had already been set in July, when a dating site displayed users’ ‘social credit’ scores, calculated by data gathered through their online shopping habits. This helped individuals vet potential partners using their data. For further reading, we suggest Black Mirror, season three, episode one.

But it shouldn’t be forgotten that Deemly’s approach could lead to a lot of good as well — helping the unbanked get a loan, for example.

Read more about Deemly »

Software uses big data to predict court decisions

Hand in hand with AI, Big Data will continue to have a profound effect on productivity and the labor market in 2017. Predictice is a fascinating innovation that provides lawyers with statistics and data on the likely outcome of commercial and social disputes, based on the history of the courts. We also saw US-based startup, Legalist, which uses an algorithm to vet commercial lawsuits and finance those with potential for success.

Read more about Predictice »

The Springwise take on Amazon Go

A little over a month ago the internet blew up following the announcement of Amazon’s new brick and mortar store Amazon Go, which will enable shoppers to effortlessly self-checkout. Due to open early 2017, the store actually offers just a taste of the disruption still to come to physical retail spaces. We’ve already seen robotic store assistants and scanners that let shoppers perform in-store searches for physical items. 2017 will be the year we see many of the benefits associated with online shopping replicated in physical retail environments.

Read more about Amazon Go »

Training people with disabilities to become drone pilots

To many, if you utter the word “drones” it will call to mind negative military and surveillance connotations, but over the coming year we’re expecting to see a number of drone innovations that counter this association by helping make the world a better place. Last year, HandiDrone was an initiative we spotted that enables those with mobility issues and disabilities to learn how to fly modified, first person drones. The aim of the program is twofold: to enable participants to experience the tranquility and control of being outside their own bodies through First-Person-View flying, and to expose them to the emerging job of drone pilots, which could be compatible with their disability.

In the UK we also saw the creation of the the Pouncer — an eco-friendly humanitarian food aid drone adaptable to local dietary requirements.

Read more about HandiDrone »

Wearable ring trains users to sleep better by waking them up

We expect 2017 to be the year when we see wearables move beyond simply tracking metrics. As they evolve, devices will increasingly look to actively and physically help train the wearer into better habits, in a very tangible way. Thim, for example, is a ring that trains users to sleep better by waking them up at regular intervals. The device is based on the work of Professor Leon Lack, whose research has shown that waking participants up at regular intervals for the first hour of sleep improves sleep quality and duration on subsequent nights.

Read more about Thim »

We hope that you’ll find these ideas as inspiring as we do, and that they spark even more innovation in the year to come!

Top 10 business ideas & opportunities for 2017

AI-CD β is a robot that is being treated as an actual employee in an ad agency.

Read more about AI-CD β »