The convergence of automotive and technology industries is accelerating the pace of innovation in the mobility and transportation sectors, leading to a surge in patent grants relevant to autonomous vehicles (AVs) while also attracting venture capital (VC) investors’ interest in the area. GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, has ranked autonomous vehicles among the top 10 innovation-led technologies. GlobalData’s Technology Innovation Intensity (TII) framework is a proprietary data-driven model that incorporates key innovation drivers from alternative datasets such as patents and deals to track a technology’s pace of innovation as well as its lifecycle stage. Adarsh Jain, Director of Financial Markets at GlobalData, says: “Autonomous vehicles space has exhibited a rapid surge in patent grants over the last 3-4 years, which has resulted in surge in VC funding during the same period. Rising patent grants and VC funding is a potent combination for accelerating innovation intensity, and GlobalData expects it to be in the acceleration stage over the next two years as well.
Identifying right technologies is only the first step. Profiting from them requires identifying the right startups and investing early enough at attractive valuation to maximise returns.
Mr Jain adds: “GlobalData’s data-driven startup investing framework ‘TII’ identifies the technology to invest in, ‘Startup Scorecard’ comprehensively ranks startups on key parameters of patents, deals and market presence and finally, ‘Startup Unicorn Prediction model’ predicts startups with potential to be a unicorn, on average 3-5 years in advance.
Autonomous vehicle startups are steadily evolving to fulfil the software and hardware value chain in Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level-02 and above with their niche offerings in the areas of resource optimization, passenger comfort & safety and navigation to enable wide scale adoption of fully automated vehicles.
Metawave Corp, Superpedestrian Inc, and May Mobility Inc are few startups worth mentioning from the GlobalData’s list of future unicorns.
Metawave, a Palo Alto company founded in 2017, is piloting an analog beamsteering radar system that enables safe and smart autonomous driving in difficult driving scenarios and all-weather conditions. Its offering named ‘Spektra’ is being tested by leading autonomous car makers and is backed by a strong patent portfolio of 20+ enforceable patents. Leading investors include Infineon Technologies and Bold Capital Partners.
Superpedestrian is a transportation robotics company spun out of MIT in 2013. With more than 100 patents covering its technology stack, the company is rapidly expanding its fleet of fully electric bikes that are designed for greater autonomous control and safety features. Backed by a recent funding round led by Citi Impact Fund in January 2021, Superpedestrian has launched its fleet and vehicle intelligence platform in nine European cities recently.
May Mobility Inc. positions itself in the larger green smart cities’ ecosystem with its autonomous driving tech stack. With shuttles piloting including in Arlington, Texas and Higashihiroshima, Japan, the company is already putting to use its investments from BMW-I ventures, Toyota and Y-combinator.
Mr Jain concludes: “It is vital to bet on the right technology at right time, to be a disruptor rather than the disrupted. GlobalData leverages diverse alternative datasets to help clients navigate the rapidly evolving tech landscape to make the right bets.
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