Venturing into the Future: 2023’s Top Tech Trends and What’s Ahead in 2024

As the year 2023 draws to a close, STARTUP AUTOBAHN powered by Plug and Play reflects on its incredible innovation journey. We didn’t just dream about the future; we shaped it with over 15 tech-filled innovation days. From cutting-edge battery recycling to quantum sensing and AI, we explored beyond mobility. Now, as we gear up for 2024, our Ventures team reviews the hottest tech trends of this year and looks ahead to what’s next. Ready for the magic? Let’s explore!

Trends We Loved in 2023

Sustainable Tech: Because Saving the Planet Should Always Be a Trend

Peak Climate: 27% of all capital invested in European tech this year was in the Carbon & Energy sector, which encompasses climate tech. This sector’s meteoritic rise, more than doubling its share of investment since 2021, is a testament to the urgency of solving the hard problems in climate change. Notably, this year witnessed climate tech surpassing AI startup funding levels, securing its place as the highest-invested sector in Europe. Let’s go, Green Transition!

Sustainability Awards: 2023 also marked the inaugural Sustainability Awards presented by Plug and Play at the STARTUP AUTOBAHN EXPO2023. UBQ Materials, the Israeli developer of climate-positive material made from household waste, was awarded for its work with Maxion.

UBQ has been driving sustainability in the automotive industry for several years already, collaborating, among others, with industry giants such as Mercedes-Benz and Motherson on our platform. We look forward to nurturing more green champions in the years to come.

Battery Breakthroughs: From Solid State Tech to 3D Printing

Battery technologies have become critical in achieving carbon neutrality and energy independence. After three decades of incremental lithium-ion battery tech optimisation, other game-changing technologies have gained momentum in 2023.

Solid State Promise: The world’s largest automaker, Toyota Europe, has committed to manufacture cost-competitive solid state batteries that deliver 1,200 km on a single 10-minute charge as early as 2027. If the tech is successfully introduced, the impact could be dramatic. It would shake up the auto industry where sales of EVs and batteries are currently dominated by Tesla Motors, and China’s BYD and CATL. The impact extends beyond roads: NASA is also working on solid-state battery tech, eying its potential to “revolutionise air travel”.

Sodium-ion batteries for mass-produced EVs: Earlier in 2023, the largest battery producer in the world, CATL, announced their sodium-ion cells will be used in Chery EV cars. The sodium-based battery will allow cars to fast charge from 10% to 80% within 15 to 20 minutes and only lose 10% of capacity at -20℃. Similarly, Northvolt also added sodium-ion to its cell portfolio in 2023. While its first generation of sodium-ion cells is designed primarily for energy storage, subsequent generations will also enable cost-efficient electric mobility solutions.

3D printed batteries: Sakuu became the first company of record to 3D print fully functional batteries in custom shapes and sizes. The additive manufacturing startup is on-track for commercial-scale and sustainable production of printed batteries in e-mobility, aerospace and more. By printing a range of next-generation batteries — from lithium metal to all-solid-state — the company can help reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Generative AI: Welcome to an Era Where Industries are Transformed with Intelligent Ingenuity

As we reflect on 2023, it’s clear that the emergence of generative AI models revolutionised natural language processing and content generation across multiple industries.

Beyond experimenting with applications like writing funny songs or stories, or creating deep fake videos, 2023 was also the year where companies across sectors jumped on the large language model (LLM) bandwagon to build new business applications and future product features.

  • Healthcare: AI played a crucial role in improving diagnostics and accelerating drug discovery.
  • Finance: the finance sector saw more precise high-frequency algorithm trading and fraud detection.
  • Automotive: Pushing the boundaries of self-driving tech, Waymo Team expanded its autonomous ride-hailing service to additional cities and Tesla Motors's Full Self-Driving (FSD) system received pivotal updates, bringing it closer to autonomous driving capabilities.
  • Climate: AI contributed to sustainability goals by improving its climate change prediction models and by optimising energy consumption via AI-driven energy management systems.
  • AI Governance and Regulation: This year also marked significant progress in establishing AI governance frameworks while witnessing intense competition and strategic positioning between the US, China, and other leading nations. Closer to home, the EU took a leading role in AI regulation through its AI Act, aiming to establish a global benchmark for ethical AI.

Predictions for 2024

Local, Personalised, On-device AI Will Be a Win for Everyone

Following tremendous advancements in AI in 2023, we expect a particular focus on local, on-device AI functionality in the next year. From smartphones to personal computers to EVs, companies like Google, Samsung, and Qualcomm Technologies are already considering the deployment of AI on the edge.

This will enable users to gain access to AI assistants without needing an internet connection or cloud server running in the backend. Undoubtedly, this will be a win-win for data privacy as well as for environmental sustainability supporters since energy consumption of data centres will be omitted.

Mobility in 2024: Electric Dreams, Autonomous Reality, and Beyond

As we step into 2024, the spotlight remains on the growing adoption of EVs. Novel concepts, such as converting lamp posts into charging points for EVs (Voltpost) or intelligent electric sockets that can be transformed into a virtual smart charging station (Evio Group), will continue to grab attention as low-hanging fruit for innovation. Extensive charging networks are expected, including fast chargers, home charging solutions, and even wireless charging.

Embracing a role beyond mere transportation, EVs will transition towards becoming mobile, decentralised power plants that feed electricity back into the grid (V2G), thus ensuring a more resilient energy infrastructure. Today, there are more than 130 V2G projects ongoing globally across 27 countries. While the majority of them are in proof of concept trial status, we expect to see more commercially procured services delivered by V2G in the near term.

We expect passenger vehicles in Europe and North America to have an increased amount of L3 and L4 automation features, which will make them highly automated or capable of self-driving on highways by 2025. In addition, the rise of RoboCabs will transform urban life in cities beyond San Francisco. For example, London-based Wayve Team is using a machine learning approach that will allow its vehicles to understand cities they have not driven in before. The startup aims to deploy fully driverless vehicles after local legislation is expected to allow it in 2025.

Deep Tech Pioneers: Future of Compute with Quantum and Neuromorphic Approaches

Quantum Computing has been a buzzword for many years. In 2023, Atom Computing, a quantum startup, made waves by unveiling a new 1,225-qubit quantum computer that tripled the performance of IBM’s frontrunner Osprey. The rapid progression in quantum capabilities sets the stage for further announcements in 2024, propelling quantum computing from theoretical concepts to practical applications, particularly in areas like material discovery and biotech.

As the boundaries of quantum computing expand, there’s an anticipation of new challenges, especially in cybersecurity as quantum computing could break current encryption standards.

Image shared by Western Sydney University

Moreover, DeepSouth, a neuromorphic supercomputer designed to emulate the human brain’s complex network of synapses is expected to go online in 2024. His estimated ability to perform 228 trillion synaptic operations per second places it on an equal footing with the human brain, the most efficient learning tool known. Neuromorphic computing aims to also replicate the energy efficiency of our brains who consume only 20 watts of energy. Thus, neuromorphic computing offers a solution to the energy burden posed by conventional supercomputers, potentially marking a new era in computation.

Semiconductors: Pushing the Limits of Miniaturisation & Boosting Edge Computing

Nanotechnology plays a crucial role in semiconductor manufacturing, enabling the production of smaller and more efficient electronic components.

In 2024, we’re poised for significant advancements in nanoscale materials and processes. This not only fuels the ongoing trend of miniaturisation but also enhances the performance and capabilities of semiconductor devices.

Looking ahead, we anticipate an increased integration of edge computing capabilities directly into semiconductor devices. This promises faster decision-making and heightened efficiency of connected systems. Edge processing stands as a key component in the evolution of computing paradigms, enabling devices to act autonomously and fostering the expansion of decentralised and distributed systems.

Sustainability Software: ESG Becomes Essential

Starting in 2023, businesses are bracing for a significant surge in standardised Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) disclosure regulations across jurisdictions.

This widening scope of obligations indicates a growing demand for high-quality data disclosure, not only from stakeholders but also regulatory bodies. With global regulators pushing for the adoption of intricate and all-encompassing ESG disclosure rules, companies and auditors must proactively prepare to navigate emerging compliance frameworks. It’s crucial to acknowledge that innovative startups offering software solutions can play a pivotal role in facilitating this transition, providing efficient tools to streamline and enhance adherence to evolving regulatory landscapes.

The Holiday Gift Guide for Innovative Folks

Step into our Holiday Gift Guide, where the STARTUP AUTOBAHN Ventures Team carefully curated a selection of presents that infuse a touch of tech magic into the festive season. Let the inspiration begin!

  • Festive Digital Dress: Stand out this holiday season with a magical, interactive pattern-changing dress. All eyes on you guaranteed.
  • AI Necklace: Rewind Pendant is a wearable AI necklace device that captures and transcribes your real world conversations, storing them locally on your phone. Say goodbye to forgotten grocery lists and hello to a seamlessly organised life.
  • Humane AI Pin: Blend fashion and technology with this accessory that features a 13MP ultra-wide camera and laser projection features. Perfect gift for those who are fans of voice-based interactions and who fancy turning their hand into a screen in no time.
  • Immersive Sports: This holiday season invite your friends and family for a one-of-a-kind sports viewing experience powered by’s real-time, mixed reality spatial sports entertainment solution.
  • Audio Sunglasses: Experience the harmonious fusion of style and sound with these headphones. Perfect for those seeking a fashionable accessory that doubles as a discreet audio device for enjoying music and calls on the go.

Contributors: STARTUP AUTOBAHN Ventures TeamTheodora Preda, Alexander Schwerdt, Tim Solle, Nils Ziegler, Raúl Martín Montero, Roberto Sampietro, Vincent Mayer.

STARTUP AUTOBAHN powered by Plug and Play is an open innovation platform that provides an interface between innovative tech companies and industry-leading corporations. Over the years, the platform has successfully cultivated over 400 projects with more than 300 startups since its founding in 2016.

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