The Future Trends Blog has been going for almost three years, during which time we have consistently averaged a post roughly every seven days. Our readership has grown substantially and the content we produce is available not just on Heptagon Capital’s website but also via LinkedIn and Twitter. Needless to say, much has changed since the start of 2019 when we first started penning our weekly epistles. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, most markedly, has forced us all to rethink our ways of doing business (not to mention merely surviving). The regular mantra with which many readers should be familiar is that change is leading us to become digital by default. Once the metaphorical Rubicon has been crossed, it will be hard to turn back.
The year-end always represents a natural point at which to take stock. In all our thematic work, we try and adopt a Janus-like perspective. We referenced Janus in both our last Blog of 2019 and 2020. Now, it would seem, it has become an annual tradition. For those unfamiliar, Janus is the Roman God of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks both to the future and to the past. It seems only appropriate to reflect on where we’ve come from and also where we may be headed.
Looking back, it is perhaps not surprising that healthcare featured as the most prominent topic across our 2021 Blogs. The pandemic has super-charged innovation across the whole of the complex and the rate at which vaccines were identified and then mass-produced to help manage the coronavirus pandemic constitutes a major cause for optimism with regard to further scientific progress (particularly where global cooperation is involved). Elsewhere, as we foresaw this time last year, the green agenda became an increasingly significant part of political debate, policy commitment and tangible action. We have been encouraged by progress in this area even if COP26 did fall short of some expectations. Another important topic to call out are the developments underway with regard to novel food solutions. This comprised the topic not only of our most recent detailed theme piece, but also by far and away our most commented-upon Blog post of 2021. In June, your author did what around 2bn people globally do daily, yet remains a novelty in much of the western world – he ate bugs. Yes, crickets, mealworms, locusts and more. They were all very tasty. More seriously, we will all need to become more pragmatic and holistic in terms of what we eat. The meat aisle may become a thing of the past, replaced instead by a protein aisle.
Looking forward, expect to hear more about healthcare innovation, renewable energy solutions and alternatives to conventional proteins. However, if we were to call out two main topics which could drive increasingly intense debate over the coming year, then it would be Web 3.0 and metaverse. The former can be best thought of as the emerging ‘new’ model upon which software, internet businesses and networks are being built. The fundamental principles which underpin these developments are decentralisation and crypto-currencies. Moving onto metaverse, this is a topic upon which we first wrote in early September – before Mark Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of his business. Think of it potentially as being the next platform (after the smartphone) which acts as an interface for both consumers and businesses to interact. The reference to the smartphone is not accidental. Similar to 3G (your author started his career as a telecoms analyst in the 1990s), future visions can take a long time to become practical realities. It’s easy to get excited about DeFi and/or the metaverse, but when investors – outside of the world of venture capital – can find businesses that offer genuine exposure to these themes may be quite another matter. Our take is simple: look around more broadly. Regardless of whether it is global smartphone adoption, workloads moved into the cloud or payment volumes yet to be digitised, the runway ahead remains significant. Per the famous line of Jeff Bezos (which we referenced in our very first Blog post), today remains truly ‘day one.’
Thank you all for your interest and support over the year. The Blog will return in early January.
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
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