We will invest predominantly in areas where we think there are strong market or technology forces about to unlock new capabilities, disruptive solutions and business models. Here are some of the things we are fascinated by.
These sectors are just some of the areas Main Sequence Ventures may invest in. Commonly, entrepreneurs create new categories that we can’t even think of now. This has happened with SaaS, computing, the internet, WiFi, AI, autonomous vehicles, semiconductors and many others.
We will remain flexible in our approach and focus tightly on what we believe is the common set of success characteristics for deep-tech opportunities, no matter the category.
AI and data science
Core computing power and data collection have improved greatly over the past decade. And yet analysis, inferences, and accurate prediction capabilities from this vast amount of information have not kept pace. We believe that over the next decade, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data science techniques will vastly improve the use of data. This will lead to better decisions, predictions and analysis. We will look for applications of these technologies in specific sectors including sales, health, resources and farming where better decisions could enable explosive growth in these businesses. Further, the combination of the cloud, scalable APIs, open source and distribution platforms are leading to the insertion of some level of AI in almost all products, offering further opportunity for disruptive company building.
Farming and food
As the world’s population grows there is an increasing need for more food and better food production methodologies. Farmers need real time information on water, crop health, weather and input optimisation. We believe that combinations of real time spectral imaging along with processing and interpretation will help farmers improve growing decisions by determining real-time plant health. Australia has particular expertise in farming and food and is an area where we think there are significant opportunities.
Enterprise software as a service
As enterprises seek to become truly responsive to customers and partners, new leading-edge information technologies will drive that aspiration. The main components of Enterprise 2.0 are open source programming languages, the increasing number of SaaS offerings, re-usable web services and a machine-learning layer on top that abstracts intelligence from the data and puts it into the hands of humans. We will carefully look at the opportunity this presents as we anticipate enterprises will soon begin to move to these new architectures in order to remain competitive.
Health, biology and genomics
Advances in synthetic biology and genomics are leading to new opportunities in everything from improved crops, better soil, disease detection, new biological coatings, CRISPR gene editing to industrial chemicals. The toolkit of biology has evolved and is going through a digitisation and automation revolution. Software tools and robotics have reduced the cost of all parts of the process, from creating a genetic ‘program’ to inserting it into a microbe and testing it in the lab. We believe that the opportunity to explore new ways of making useful products such as pharmaceuticals, food ingredients and materials will continue to grow. Main Sequence Ventures would invest in opportunities that build on the distinctive strengths of our team, giving us an edge in this internationally competitive space. We intend to complement, but not duplicate, the Australian Government’s Biomedical Translation Fund.
Increasingly we are seeing certain types of hardware take on more characteristics of SaaS companies, in that product build cycles are shortening, connectivity between devices is increasing and sales cycles are not as long. The hardware often serves as a platform for an ongoing communications service or data service driven by software. This is happening in the IoT, medical devices, sensors for mining and farming, and monitoring, tracking and measuring solutions providing opportunity for growth.
The demand for cyber security is growing dramatically. As the world’s population and assets become increasingly connected, the need for better, more robust security continues to rise. We will be looking for companies that offer products to protect digital assets, ranging from quantum encryption to fraud detection. This is a crowded space, but one where the need and the level of sophistication keeps growing.
Transportation and space
Recent advances in autonomous vehicles (cars, trucks, drones) and the falling costs of rocket launches are leading to new industries and opportunities for those providing services and equipment. We believe there will be an ever-increasing need for light detection and radar (LIDAR) and other sensor based systems that transportation companies will need to use to navigate. Smaller, cheaper satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) will open up new communication paths for all kinds of sensors being used by the internet of things (IoT). We believe that Australia’s longitudinal position and expertise in this area, when combined with lower costs and a growing need for autonomous navigation, communication and sensors will yield investment opportunities.
Advances in materials and nano-materials promise to revolutionise how materials are manufactured and processed. With the rapid development in applications of high-density information storage devices, micro-electro-mechanical systems, biomedical devices and wireless and fiber optic communication systems, nano-mechanics and manufacturing have become increasingly important. Australia has a strong track record in materials and quantum computing that we plan to take advantage of. Building a true quantum computer will lead to the ability to solve certain types of problems faster and more efficiently than ever before. Australia has several centres of excellence in materials and quantum computing that we plan to take advantage of.
Energy and resources
As the world industrialises, energy needs are rising. We will be interested in backing opportunities that are a step change improvement in terms of cost and benefit, rather than an equivalent to the status quo. We also see the need for continuing improvement in storage systems to support this.