Northvolt at No.4 on deep-tech list

Swedish lithium-ion battery maker Northvolt has come in at No.4 on a global list of private deep tech leaders “propelling humanity forward”.

The list compiled by California-based VC Bessemer Venture Partners and non-profit, X PRIZE foundation, has Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Sam Altman’s OpenAI at No.1 and No.2, respectively. It includes firms developing and producing everything from alternative plastics and fungi-based steak to 3D printed rockets and AI-tailored semi-conductor chips.

While the world of natural resource delineation and extraction doesn’t get much of a look-in, Skydio (drone maker), Drone Deploy (drone data platform) and Form Energy (iron-air batteries) have their imitators in the mining and metals universe.

Bessemer says its “definitive ranking of 100 of the most promising deep tech start-ups” used four criteria to evaluate businesses: impact on humanity, valuation, scientific difficulty (measured on number of PhDs and patents) and commercial traction (based on NASA’s technological readiness level, or TRL, framework).

Agriculture, artificial intelligence, aviation, climate, mobility, next-generation biotech, quantum, robotics and space were the nine categories of deep tech in which the 100 firms worked.

Bessemer says deep tech innovation is highly concentrated in the United States (74% of its top 100), but admits, “the scarcity of data on deep tech and companies in other markets in part explains the list’s heavy concentration of US-based start-ups”. The list does include Chinese, European and Canadian companies.

“Across the XB100, the average company age is 9.2 years, the average amount of capital raised is US$801 million and the average valuation is $4.4 billion,” the VC says.

“The average TRL of companies on the XB100 is about 7.

“At this stage, companies have demonstrated a fully-functioning prototype of their technology in a close-to-real-world environment.

“The company category with the lowest TRL was quantum computing, with a TRL of 4, while the company categories with the highest TRL were robotics and mobility, each with a TRL of about 8.5.”


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