There are three more bonus areas to keep an eye on: energy – both clean and fossil fuel startups, water – the new part of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin is ground zero for water research and lastly the gaming industry. Austin has always been a hotbed of activity in the gaming area but we think it’s going to really be a strong area for new startups in 2017.
Here’s the list:
1. Autonomous vehicles – Austin Mayor Steve Adler sums it all up with his quote “We are the Kitty Hawk of driverless cars.” Waymo, Google’s driverless car technology spinoff, completed a trip with Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, last October on Austin streets. It was Waymo’s First Ride – the first fully autonomous ride on city streets and it took place in Austin. Also, down the highway in San Antonio, researchers at Southwest Research Institute, have been working for years on autonomous technology for military and commercial applications.
2. Artificial Intelligence – Machines are becoming smarter. Peter Stone, professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of the world’s most renowned experts in AI. He just spearheaded a report that looks at the applications of this technology and its implications for our world. He is also heading up a startup, Cogitai, that has a contract with Sony for developing robots. It has other contracts in the work. Keep an eye on AI.
3. Cognitive Computing – There is a difference between AI and Cognitive Computing. Cognitive Computing still puts the decision in the hands of the human. IBM’s Watson computer is the biggest example of Cognitive Computing. But Austin-based CognitiveScale is red hot in the arena coming off a $25 million strategic investment from Microsoft last October.
4. Augmented Reality – Want to look for one of the next big things in tech in Austin? Look no further than Magic Leap, which opened a big research and development office in Austin last year. Pokemon Go – the hit mobile AR game of the summer – has ties to Austin and its CMO is based here.
5. Virtual Reality – Did you get one of those cool headsets for Christmas that converts your smart phone into a VR headset? That’s just the beginning. VR has so many applications for training workers, educating students and entertaining the masses. For Austin VR companies check out Owlchemy Labs, Virtuix, Ghost Machine and Capital Factory’s VR lab.
6. Big Data – Less than one percent of the world’s data that is collected ever gets analyzed. Now that computing power is cheap, researchers can crunch all that data and come up with some world changing insights like increasing productivity, solving complex problems and find cures for a multitude of diseases. Brett Hurt’s startup, data.world is seeking to become the social network for data people. Other data companies in Austin to watch include Trendkite, XOR Data Exchange, DrillingInfo, Edgecase and PontentiaMetrics.
7. Cybersecurity – This is one of the strengths of the Central Texas technology community. San Antonio is a major center for tech security with its huge National Security Agency center, the city’s military bases and BuildSec, a new cybersecurity incubator. It has startups like InfoCyte and other established companies like Digital Defense, Denim Group and SecureLogix. And Austin companies include Absolute Software, Still Secure, Ziften, SailPoint and vThreat.
8. Fintech Startups – The sale of Honest Dollar to Goldman Sachs in March is just one indication fin-tech startups are white hot here. USAA also opened an Austin office this year to glean some of that fin-tech mojo. And other startups in Austin in this area include Able Lending, Self Lender, Factom, Student Loan Genius and Netspend. And in San Antonio there is Payment Data, which bought Akimbo a few years ago.
9. Life Sciences Startups – The Dell Medical School at University of Texas at Austin accepted its first class in 2016. Dean Dr. Clay Johnston has given a lot of talks about how the school will focus on delivering medicine better. And he sees startups as a big part of changing the healthcare system. Startups to watch in Austin include Curtana Pharmaceuticals, Lumos Pharma, UnaliWear and Chiron Health. For years, San Antonio has had a vibrant biotech industry. Its startups to watch include Bluegrass Vascular, Seno Medical Instruments, StemBioSys and Xenex.
10. Unplugging – It is becoming increasingly important for people to have time away from computers and technology. Austin and San Antonio both have gorgeous parks and places to take a walk in the woods. Leave the devices in the car or turn them off and put them in your backpack if you think you need them for emergencies. And go for a hike. Tons of studies show it will make you more creative and productive.