Revealed: the 50 new technologies that could shape the future

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A real-life invisibility cloak and worm-like robotics for disaster recovery are just some of the 50 emerging technologies that could shape our future.

The 50 emerging technologies report from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, reveals for the first time the most exciting new technological breakthroughs that could be part of our everyday lives.

All of the technologies, from tiny nano-materials, to quantum computing, and brain-machine interfaces that allow you to control machines with your mind, are in development right now. While only in their infancy, they’re described in the report as having major potential to transform our lives.

Driving business-led innovation through emerging technologies

Innovate UK wants the report to inspire innovative businesses to consider how these technologies, or combinations of them, could become the commercial products of the future, in turn creating jobs and economic growth.

The technologies are compiled in seven groups, all of which are important to the UK economy:

  • artificial intelligence, digital and computing
  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • electronics, photonics and quantum
  • energy and environmental
  • biotechnology
  • health and medical
  • robotics and space

A strong societal impact

The technologies were selected and shortlisted based on 35 metrics, with a focus on those that are around 20 years from widespread commercial use and:

  • indicate strong future market prospects
  • have the potential to disrupt
  • lead to positive societal impact

Building on the past to deliver future growth

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive Officer of Innovate UK, said:

Innovate UK works to support economic and productivity growth through supporting innovative businesses. We also work to help catalyse, connect, and stimulate ideas- and that work is at the heart of this Innovate UK 50 Emerging Technologies report. This report and our horizon scanning work are aimed at stimulating discussion and, directly or indirectly, future innovation which leads to skilled jobs and future economic growth.

Inspiring industry and generating discussions

Head of Horizon Scanning at Innovate UK and report author, Simone Boekelaar, explains:

As we enter an era of unprecedented technological change, our new report offers a glimpse into a future where the impossible becomes possible. From anti-ageing drugs to sustainable energy solutions, these technologies could change everything, and we are excited to see the impact they will have on society in the years to come.

This report builds on Innovate UK’s fifteen years of experience in identifying emerging technologies of future importance to UK businesses. As the goal of the report is to inspire industry and generate discussion within and across all sectors of the economy, this list is illustrative rather than exhaustive. Nor is it ranked by importance or level of investment. But we can say with confidence that we will be seeing much more of these exciting technologies in the future.

Read the full report to find out about 50 emerging technologies that will shape our future.

Further information

About Horizon Scanning

We are at one of the most important and exciting times in the history of research and innovation in the UK. The rate of discovery and technological advance is astonishing, with unprecedented opportunities to create value for society and the economy.

The science fiction of just a few decades ago, from video calls to bionic limbs, is now part of everyday life. This is a new industrial revolution, driven by the pace of technological change.

Top image:  Credit: Adobe Stock

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