#4 - Frontier Tech Developments
Orbital debris, hardware as a service, protein folding, AI chips, synthetic embryos, Alzheimer's research, robotic processing for recycling, industrial policy, & great jobs in frontier tech.
Frontier Tech Investment Theses
Space: “Orbital Debris” by Christie Lacomini (Prime Movers Lab, 4.0.22)
“To illustrate the magnitude of threats, consider these figures updated monthly by ESA . There are about 5,200 currently-functioning satellites today. There are over 2,600 additional inactive satellites still in space. Then there are almost 30,000 debris objects larger than 10 cm (or about a softball) regularly tracked & cataloged by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network for collision avoidance purposes.”
In the long term, limiting orbital debris “by design” will start to have meaningful impacts. Industry will be completing design cycles and flight qualifications, and we will start to see deployments of sustainable designs. Specific areas include improving resilience of spacecraft surfaces, shielding and impact resistance, and fragment-reducing technology. Though orbital debris will not be eliminated, we will have tools to make our critical in-space infrastructure more robust to debris as well as less susceptible to originating debris in the first place.”
See companies: Atroscale, ClearSpace, Cislunar Industries, D-Orbit, EOS, ExoAnalytics Solutions, Kayhan Space, Kurs Orbital, Launch Space Technologies, LeoLabs, NorthStar, Numerica, Orbio Space Technology, Portal Space Systems, Privateer Space (hello Steve Wozniak), SCOUT, Slingshot Aerospace, Starfish Space, Tethers Unlimited, Turion Space, Vyoma
Six metrics that matter for Hardware as a Service companies.
Hardware: “The State of Hardware as a Service” (by SVB and Eclipse, 7.14.22)
Covered within: Analysis of AWS as a great HaaS example, investor buy-in increase, customer contract breakdowns, supply chain analysis, machine value analysis, market validation and more.
ML: The State of Natural Language Processing by Nandu Anilal (Canaan Partners, 7.28.22)
Research Developments in the Frontier Space
Computational Biology: “DeepMind research cracks structure of almost every known protein”
“In July 2021, DeepMind announced it had predicted the shape of all human proteins, helping to better understand human health and disease. That database has been expanded 200-fold, and now contains more than 200mn predicted protein structures, covering almost every organism on Earth that has had its genome sequenced — from the malarial parasite to the honeybee.”
Biology / Reproductive Science: “Post-Gastrulation Synthetic Embryos Generated Ex Utero from Mouse Naïve ESCs”
Synthetic embryos grown ex-utero (no sperm/no eggs/no utero needed) - the scientific basis for renewal.bio - the company Omri Amirav-Drory of NFX and Jacob Hanna started. To be honest I’m still not sure how I feel about this space, but I think following along with the research to understand the risks and benefits is important.
Semiconductors: "The Coming AI Chip Boom” 7.10.22
A brief video history of how Nvidia's GPU evolution kicked off the neural network revolution and some forward looking predictions in the race for AI accelerators.
New findings threaten one of the most cited Alzheimer’s studies of this century and numerous related experiments. It seems that authors of this paper “appeared to have composed figures by piecing together parts of photos from different experiments.”
For context, since 1995, cumulative private expenditures on clinical stage Alzheimer’s R&D were estimated at $42.5 billion (source). TLDR: this will have been an extremely expensive consequence of fraud.
Market Commentary in Frontier Tech Space
Robotics / Recycling: “AMP Robotics: A Vision To Sort Out Our Broken Recycling Process” by Jeff Burke
A look into the market of robotics for recycling sorting, and improving recycling center unit economics to decrease the use of landfills.
Machine Learning / Natural Language Processing: “Hugging Face” by Jeff Burke (6.11.21)
“With over 10,000 models+, 1,000+ datasets, and 5,000+ companies using their products, Hugging Face has quietly become one of the fastest growing open source platforms in history. They do this by bringing fun and simplicity to an extremely complex and technical field (Machine Learning Models). Starting with NLP models, Hugging Face has used their playful branding, clean UX, and customer-centric features to make NLP models simple.”
Semiconductors / Industrial Policy / China Competition: “Senate Passes $280 Billion Industrial Policy Bill to Counter China” (7.27.22)
“The bill, a convergence of economic and national security policy, would provide $52 billion in subsidies and additional tax credits to companies that manufacture chips in the United States. It also would add $200 billion for scientific research, especially into artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing and a variety of other technologies.”
“The bill calls for pouring $10 billion into the Department of Commerce — which would also dole out the chips subsidies to companies that apply — to create 20 “regional technology hubs” across the country.”
I’m really excited to see how this affects the semiconductor startup landscape by shortening time to raise & pulling new talent into the industry in the face of a nation-wide chip shortage. There’s around 7 years of research on average before new semiconductor startups raise funding, largely due to the R&D expenses that rival only pharma — and hopefully this will drive things down.
Frontier tech jobs:
As an investor in frontier tech I see a good bit of the many different approaches to some of the same categories. Earlier stage frontier tech startup positions may be riskier than many other types of jobs, but the rewards can be much greater. These companies and positions are a few that I think are the cream of the crop.
Renewable energy / oceanology: Mechanical & electronics engineering https://boards.greenhouse.io/stealthenergystartup
Machine Learning / Creative Tooling: ML engineer, research scientists, SWE https://runwayml.com/careers/
Autonomous Vehicles: Robotics, data science https://wayve.ai/join-us/
Chemical Engineering / Biology: Helaina, synthetic breast milk
See details on what the team is working on here
Biology / (CV/ Embedded Systems) Engineering: Spaero, lab automation
Biology: Culture Biosciences, cloud-based bioreactors
Psychedelics / Manufacturing: Psygen
Looking to bounce around ideas about technology in the space? Looking for a cofounder or team member, or want to submit a job description to be featured in my newsletter? Trying to join a new frontier tech startup? Fill out the form linked above and let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll do my best do respond with an answer, suggestion, company, or meeting time!
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