COVID-19 was an exogenous shock to the status quo that has already fundamentally altered the trajectory of global economies and catalyzed innovation that will have far-reaching implications. Here, we look at how the pandemic has driven new consumer behaviors and accelerated the adoption of technologies that will reshape industries and change how we consume, move, spend, work and live.
COVID-19 highlighted the need to transform traditional global supply chains. In response, organizations will focus on bolstering resilience by investing in automation and shifting towards more agile and localized manufacturing networks that bring supply chains closer to consumer demand.
There will be an existential shift in the way products are manufactured and shipped around the world. Companies will begin to reconfigure their complex global supply chains and adopt flexible manufacturing platformsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARAn on-demand manufacturing marketplace that leverages AI to connect customers with manufacturing solutions.Software-driven smart factories for rapid prototyping and low-volume production of printed circuit board assemblies. that allow them to reshore modularized small-medium-run items.
Industrial AR will see immediate growth as companies adopt the technologySTARTUPS ON OUR RADARAR-enabled remote assistance platform for industrial settings. AR smart glasses platform designed to enhance the productivity and safety of deskless professionals. to maintain operational continuity with remote workforces.
History shows that automation typically spikes in the wake of economic shocks. This historical precedent, combined with the current state of enforced remote work and the steadily decreasing cost of advanced robotsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAROn-demand autonomous mobile robotics company focused on intralogistics and warehousing use cases.Johns Hopkins University spinout that provides software that allows workers with little to no experience in robotics to program industrial robots. and sensors, will drive rapid adoption of automation.
As factories do come back online, they will adopt new workforce
technology such as wearable devicesSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARSmall biometric patch that detects key bio-indicators like heart rate, body temperature and activity levels. Small wearables that populate real-time health and location data onto a central dashboard that enables contract tracing and indicates workplace safe zones. in order track employee movement and health and create critical assurances around workplace safety.
COVID-19 is driving new consumer behaviors and expectations – many of which will become permanent. New consumption habits, coupled with evolving economic and market realities, will fundamentally reshape the retail landscape.
E-commerce will become the default for the majority of people, even those who have not historically been digital-first. This will drive new consumer expectations around the end-to-end digital shopping experience and a permanent contraction of physical retail.
Retailers will become increasingly dependent on direct channels and data to create hyper-personalized experiencesSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAR Psychometric AI-powered targeting and analytics and invest in new technologies to create more immersive online environments.STARTUPS ON OUR RADAR Web-based VR to create immersive experiences and virtual stores They will also begin to experiment with new delivery models that emphasize convenience and speed.
The “experience economy,” which has dominated marketing in recent years, will also shift online – at least in the near term. This will drive brands to develop new engagement models that allow them to build and maintain meaningful consumer relationships in the virtual world.
There will be a broad shift in the social media landscape as consumers’ authority models shift away from “vanity influence” and toward trusted peers and true expertise. Retailers will shift digital spend to next-generation social platforms, which will be rooted in gamingSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARReal-time chat platform organized around sub-communities with shared interests and affinity-based networksSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARNew social network that is being called the “Reddit for Gen Z” organized around shared values or interests (versus around an individual).
With a prolonged contraction of physical retail, frontline workers will be mobilized as social sellers. Retailers will invest in new tools and platforms to empower store employees to the build digital fluency and authority needed to effectively inspire, engage and reinforce direct sales relationships with consumers in the virtual world.
COVID-19 will drive new expectations around the safety of physical environments that will change the way consumers shop. When stores do reopen, retailers will need to address heightened concerns around health and hygiene by creating contactless experiences and leveraging smart sanitization technologies.
Increased consumer focus on preventive health and wellness will drive a resurgence of wearables STARTUPS ON OUR RADARSmart ring that tracks sleep other key health indicators including body temperature, movement and pulse.and increased demand for connected at-home devices that provide tracking, diagnostics and/or other personalized services that would normally occur in stores.
Extensive shifts in supply chain networks and consumption behaviors will lead to sweeping changes in logistics and delivery.
A broad recognition that autonomous mobility across many contexts – from transporting sick patients to moving critical supplies – could have aided COVID-19 response efforts, coupled with sustained demand for contactless delivery solutionsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARSelf-driving vehicle for local goods deliveryAlphabet spinout providing autonomous aerial delivery of everyday goodsAutonomous surface robots for consumer delivery or movement of goods in industrial settings, will accelerate the adoption of autonomous transport across surface and air.
On-demand consumer expectations will drive retailers to embrace micro-fulfillmentSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARMicro-fulfillment centers that leverage AI and robotics to enable on-demand fulfillmentSmart warehousing and intelligent fulfillment platform designed to democratize low-cost same-day deliveryML and predictive intelligence for on-demand fulfillment and invest in technology to optimize the last mile experience. Converted real estate will become critical infrastructure nodes on new urban logistics networks.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARConverts excess capacity into smartphone-enabled same-day fulfillment centers
The way people move will also fundamentally change.
Sustained near-term declines in mass transit ridership has created an opportunity to introduce more efficient modelsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARUrban mobility platform that provides real time data to rideshare companies and transit authorities to optimize MaaS and public transit – i.e., replacing fixed, low-ridership routes with smaller-form-factor, dynamically-routed vehiclesSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAROn-demand and pre-scheduled transit that aggregate passengers with similar origins and destinations.
Mass transit and ridesharing will eventually rebound to pre-COVID-19 levels, but new protocols and technology will be implemented to ensure rider safety. New health passportsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARBiometrics-based digital identity startup that has created new health credentialing servicesAI-enabled security startup developing immunity passports or passenger classes could be created to regulate travel clearances based on time-stamped health scores or COVID-19 test results.
Air travel will fundamentally change, much in the same way it did post 9/11. Airports will implement contactless technology such as biometric-enabled security systemsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARContactless airport check-in technology with automated health screening and temperature and heart rate detection capabilities that allow passengers to be screened without ever touching anything or producing passports. Ubiquitous AI-enabled sensors as well as gesture and eye movement-based interactions will minimize queues and optimize the boarding process.
The global banking ecosystem has proven resilient in the face of the pandemic. The public continues to trust financial institutions, payment networks and providers, given no significant infrastructure outages have been reported. However, the sector is far from immune to the impacts of COVID-19. In the short term, there will be significant changes in operating models – some of which will have long-term impacts.
Mobile-first banking will become the norm, driving a shift away from brick-and-mortar branches. Neobanks that focus on both consumersSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARMillennial-focused neo-bank that helps customers manage and invest their money. and small businessesSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARNovo is a banking platform that provides business checking accounts and tools to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancersNeat is a Hong Kong based startup that focuses on giving startups and small businesses a more efficient, online alternative to traditional banking. will see an uptick in new business as traditional banks are unable to compete with their remote-by-design, digital service models.
Capital-intensive retail banking branch networks will use this as an opportunity to optimize operational footprints, close branches and/or retrain branch employees. Traditional financial institutions will accelerate plans to invest in creating their own neobanksSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAR or attempt to acquire upstart challenger banks.
COVID-19 has inflicted significant financial hardship on small business owners around the world. As markets begin to reopen, small businesses will be hyper focused on receivables management to ensure it is closely aligned with the increase in spending. In response, many businesses are adopting AI-enabled tools that optimize the receivables collection process.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARAttunely offers a proven, compliant, and trustworthy machine learning platform that makes the recovery of receivables easy, seamless, and profitable.re:ceeve is a truly digital debt collection and management software designed to streamline and personalise debt collection processes.
With radical change occurring at an unprecedented speed, new security loopholes are opening for fraudsters. An array of COVID-19 scams have emerged including using synthetic identities during application processes. In response, large merchants and financial institutions will continue to accelerate significant investments to improve fraud detection and prevention.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARSentiLink is a technology company that helps you detect and block synthetic identities in real-time.Resistant.ai uses machine learning to protect customers in markets such as financial services and ecommerce from attacks such as targeted manipulation, adversarial machine learning and advanced fraud.Inscribe evaluates your documents for signs of fraud using forensic analysis, proprietary fraud databases, and document corroboration algorithms.
As the impact from COVID-19 persists, consumers will break the glass on their savings, investment and retirement accounts to cover near-term financial losses, while turning to new investment modelsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARStockpile is a fractional investment platform that democratizes access to investment.Acorns is an investment platform that helps people invest their spare change and accumulate wealth.Digit is an automated savings platform. and platforms to rebuild.
As governments come to grips with the inefficiencies associated with using legacy infrastructure to distribute COVID stimulus payments to citizens on a massive scale, they will accelerate plans to implement digital currencies (stablecoins) backed by fiat currencies (U.S. dollars). These initiatives will catalyze further adoption of underlying platform providersSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAR by offering an efficient vehicle for moving money quickly while removing the risk of volatility inherent in other crypto assets.
We are in the midst of a massive work-from-home experiment. The work world will tilt back toward the way it was — but not likely all the way back. A rapid pivot to remote work across nearly every industry has forced organizations to redesign workflows and invest in tools to support newly-distributed workforces.
Organizations are embracing new tools and technologies to optimize remote collaborationSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARFull virtual office for remote teams that enables productive collaboration and “water cooler” conversations.Organizational visualization tool to optimize cross-team and cross-functional collaboration and sustain cultureSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARPlatform that leverages behavioral science and machine learning to drive team and organizational-level resilience in the current WFH reality and prepare for a future that will likely include hybrid and flexible working models.
Enterprises are being forced to hire without meeting candidates in person, driving new demand for recruiting and onboarding toolsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAREnterprise recruiting and onboarding platform with a product around distributed hiring Enables fast-growing organizations to build remote engineering teams AI-powered job candidate recruitment and screening designed for building trust remotely.
COVID-19 may be the end of modern offices that revolved around open floor plans. As offices come back online, employers will be faced with employees who are psychologically averse to returning to the same workspace. They will need to focus on creating environments that enable safe collaboration and leverage technologies to create assurances around sanitization and safety.
This global health event will accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies and business models that will fundamentally change the way healthcare is delivered, creating an opportunity to reorient our healthcare system from reactive to preventative and patient-centric.
In the near-future, a network of at-home, connected diagnosticSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARConnected consumer diagnostic devices and IoT-enabled consumer medical devicesSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARConnected consumer medical devices combined with remote exams will provide real-time actionable clinical data that will change how infectious disease is diagnosed and treated.
Dynamic data generated by a combination of these connected devices, remote patient monitoring platformsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARContinuous monitoring and telehealth platform that alerts medical providers if any anomalies are detected in patient health data.Remote monitoring platform for chronic conditions and personal health trackersSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARWearable device that tracks key health indicators to optimize human performance will enable early detection capabilities that will improve clinical outcomes, reduce healthcare costs and empower patients to play a more proactive role in managing their own care.
COVID-19 will drive a true tipping point for telehealthSTARTUPS ON OUR RADAROn-demand and AI-driven text-based primary care provider and lead to the emergence of new direct or concierge care modelsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARSaaS solution enabling private practices and medical systems to deliver remote healthcareDirect primary care for enterpriseSoftware platform that enables healthcare providers to offer direct primary care that have the potential to unlock vast efficiencies across the health value chain.
The trove of patient data, combined with new lightweight care models, will reshape the insurance landscape. Data will be aggregated and integrated at a structural level in unprecedented ways, allowing insurers to bring more targeted products to market. Gamification and rewards will become common;STARTUPS ON OUR RADARHighly-personalized digital health insurance with telehealth integrations and gamified features like the “Get Paid to Walk” program which leverages Apple or Google health data to award users $1 for each day they meet step goals.Integrated booking and rewards platform that enables patients to earn points that can be redeemed for healthcare savings or donated via a feature that allows patients to crowdfund money to pay for essential treatments they could not otherwise afford. insurers will incentivize preventative health behaviors by rewarding consumers with better rates and lower premiums, ultimately resulting in lower costs for all parties.
Broad containment measures have drastically impacted the essential flow of food from farms and producers to consumers and forced foodservice operators and independent restaurateurs to change their business models overnight. The widespread impact of the COVID-19 tidal wave will likely fast track transformation across the global food system and permanently reshape the restaurant landscape.
Sustained closures and emphasis on delivery will drive a permanent contraction of physical restaurants and an increase in both third-party delivery platformsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARCommission-free platform for restaurants to manage all aspects of their delivery experience and cloud kitchen infrastructure.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARIntegrated cloud kitchen platform that leverages AI to map hyper-local demand Over time, many restaurants will vertically integrate their delivery businesses to maintain margin or diversify offerings to capture new demand in the “home kitchen” market.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARDirect-to-consumer, wholesale grocery delivery platform
Restaurants will revise their operations and adapt their retail formats to accommodate the new delivery-first reality. Restaurants will create takeaway-only locations and “destination” experiences to incentivize consumers to dine in.
As restaurants do reopen, the perception of safety will be critical. Food service operators will implement new protocolsSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARConnected hand scanner with detection technology that provides foodservice operators real-time feedback employee hand washing compliancePatented additive that uses temporary color to indicate if parts of a surface have been missed in the disinfection process and technology to track employee compliance as well as consumer-facing measures to demonstrate hygiene.
Vulnerabilities highlighted by COVID-19 will drive widespread localization and automation across food supply chains as well as more direct sourcing models.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARFood supply chain management platform that allows chefs and restaurant managers to source directly from suppliers to reduce complexity in the supply chain These shifts will also allow brands to address rising consumer preferences around local ingredients, sustainable practices and traceability.
There will be broad attitudinal shifts around proximity and diversion that will fundamentally change live entertainment. The development and adoption of immersive technologies and new monetization models will be accelerated as virtual experiences become become the dominant consumption model.
Large-scale venues will remain empty and the vast majority of fans will engage online for the foreseeable future. New, smaller and experience-driven form factors will emerge to account for reduced capacity; venue operators will focus on creating differentiated in-arena experiences in an effort to lure fans back. In the meantime, operators and franchise owners will find new ways to drive online fan engagement.
In addition to creating new experiences, owners will need to reimagine all aspects of how people flow through venues and implement contactless technologySTARTUPS ON OUR RADARLight-based medical-grade sanitization device that can be used in can be used in public restrooms, etc.Cloud-based technology that integrates with existing security infrastructure to measure body temperature of high flows of people and provide basic contact tracing to regulate entry and track movement and interactions.
The lack of IRL optionality has forced consumers to acclimate to convening online – and they are showing up in the hundreds of thousands for virtual events. New technologies will be developed to enhance the online experience, further reinforcing the viability of digital formats and leading brands and artists to permanently reconsider the need for capital-intensive, large-scale offline events.
The development of immersive technologies and new social platforms will be accelerated to support online event infrastructureSTARTUPS ON OUR RADARVoice-based online event platform and gathering place that leverages spatial audio technology and meet consumer demand for new and authentic ways to connect in the virtual world.STARTUPS ON OUR RADARTechnology that turns any location into a space for real time, shared AR and VR experiences and on-demand immersive games.