Unearthing deeptech innovation worldwide — Meet our Curators — #1
Hello Tomorrow is on the look for the best deeptech startups around, working with incredibly talented individuals, dedicated to sourcing the best projects that we could help propel through the Global Challenge. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes view with an interview of one of our most active curators, Julien Fredonie, based in Berlin.
Is is challenging to find real deeptech innovation?
It’s sometimes difficult to find the real breakthrough technologies beyond the nicely made marketing lingo, as there is a lot of buzz around the word deep tech right now.
On the other hand, many interesting initiatives are early-stage, so they’re in stealth mode, developing their projects in universities or incubators without any communication which makes it really fun to find them!
Which startup is making you dream right now?
Some researchers developing technologies enabling invisibility! Or a venture like Positron Dynamics, which is creating an anti-matter powered spacecraft, capable of exploration beyond our solar system; that is quite fascinating.
I also really like Aiscope. The founder has a great and inspiring story; he learnt epidemiology, optics and machine learning to create a great product, available open source, that uses Machine Learning to cure Malaria in emerging countries.
What’s happening in the deeptech ecosystem in Berlin? Any insider thoughts?
Berlin was traditionally known for e-commerce and apps (Zalando, Delivery Hero etc.).
In the last years we saw a rise of deeptech and b2b ventures. I moved to Berlin because I felt it has a unique opportunity to be pivotal for deep tech in Europe and Berlin is indeed becoming a major hub.
- Here you can find great talents from all around the world.
- The cost of living is still ok compared to other cities.
- The entrepreneurial mindset is growing, entrepreneurs know they can eventually succeed.
- Even if not perfect, even if many VCs need to understand the specifics of deep tech, the funding and corporate partnership part are really active with dozens of initiatives to support entrepreneurs.
- The community is open minded and supportive
Also, there is this unique vision in Berlin, at the intersection of entrepreneurship and activism that enables the creation of tech companies that have a positive impact
You’re also a mentor to several start-ups. Do you have one good advice for any budding deeptech science-entrepreneurs?
1) Hire diverse.
Make sure your team is diverse enough to tackle challenges around product, business and technology. In your journey you will need different skills and mindsets and you should make sure your hiring strategy enables that (age, origin, gender, backgrounds etc..). That may imply hiring outside of your university alumni network.
2) Build a product.
Once you have a form of MVP proving the technology, make sure you engage with users early enough to receive feedback and steer the product development in the right direction; the feedback will be valuable for you and will help get traction. It is not only about the technology, it is also about getting users.
3) Connect with capital and corporates early.
Because deeptech entrepreneurship is capital intensive, entrepreneurs need to nurture relationships with (relevant) potential investors and larger corporations early in their journey.
We’re facing lots of challenges. Which one do you think is the most urgent and how can we tackle it?
I believe the environmental challenge is quite urgent and is a perfect playground for deeptech entrepreneurs willing to solve complex problems. There are already solutions to improve energy consumption, food production, traveling or to reduce water usage for example. The key is now to see those initiatives scaling up to have an impact.
AI is more and more woven into our daily lives. What kind of relationship do you expect humans and AI to have in 20 years?
The combination of AI with other technologies (sensing, DLTs etc.) will have a big impact on our lives but I think it is not about AI, it is about what we do with it and why.
As a society, we have a unique opportunity, for the next 5 to 7 years, to shape the world we want to live in and I think Hello Tomorrow plays a great role here. Of course we need to support the entrepreneurs using AI to solve big problems.
But we also need to create conversations within the society, including engineers, politics, citizens, activists etc. in order to take educated decisions and make sure we develop a positive and healthy relationship to AI.
How did you learn about Hello Tomorrow and why did you decide to become a curator?
I always keep an eye on the global events around innovation and Hello Tomorrow always struck me by its great ambition, the quality of its vision and execution and the complementary different initiatives they created. It’s not another startup conference, it’s a global initiative that is truly supporting deeptech entrepreneurs.
I decided to join because I think deeptech entrepreneurs have the power to change the world and I feel being part of Hello Tomorrow is one good way to support them.
Thanks for your insights, Julien !