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Deep tech, hard tech, or deep technology is a classification of organization, or more typically startup company, with the expressed objective of providing technology solutions based on substantial scientific or engineering challenges.[1] They present challenges requiring lengthy research and development, and large capital investment before successful commercialization. The primary risk in a deep tech or hard tech company is technical risk, while market risk is often overlooked due to the potential value of the solution to society. The underlying scientific or engineering problems being solved by deep tech and hard tech companies generate valuable intellectual property and are hard to reproduce.[2][3][4][5]

Definition

The term deep tech has been present for decades,[6] representing R&D divisions at major defense and telecommunications corporations such as Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, and Bell Labs, to the more modern definition which increasingly includes companies found in the venture capital ecosystem. The word doesn't refer to innovation itself, but to a category of startup companies that develop new products based “on scientific discovery or meaningful engineering innovation”.[7][8]

According to year 2019 research by the Boston Consulting Group and Hello Tomorrow, a French nonprofit that supports deep technology, the most prominent deep tech fields included advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, blockchain, robotics, photonics, electronics, and quantum computing. Global private investment in those fields increased more than 20% a year from 2015, and reached almost $18 billion in 2018.[2] Possible fields for deep tech application include agriculture, life sciences, chemistry, aerospace and green energy.[7] In business context, deep tech has three key attributes: potential for impact, a long time to reach market-ready maturity, and substantial requirement for capital.[2]