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The 10 biggest startup opportunities in 2016

James A. Martin | Jan. 8, 2016
The New Year promises to usher in a new set of tech startups looking to capitalize on the rise of enterprise wearables, counterterrorism, finance and payments tech, and even private space exploration.

"Why do we need to see our OS? Why can't OSes be audio-based and follow us from one location to another?" Haroun suggests "the dominant OS of the near future will be voice-based and will run concurrently on our smartphones via Apple's Siri, Google voice products, speaker systems like the Amazon Echo, or on our computers using Microsoft's Cortana."

3. Consumer privacy protection

As the adoption of smart home technology increases, consumer concern about what happens to the data their gadgets collect grows accordingly, according to Stuart Bailey, founder and chief scientist at network security service provider Infoblox.

"Even as consumers strap more wearable fitness trackers to their bodies and install smart appliances, thermostats and multimedia centers in their homes, they're also demanding more control over who has access to the information they permit those devices to collect," Bailey says. "Meeting the challenge of helping companies collect that information while also guaranteeing users' privacy creates an excellent opportunity for tech entrepreneurs in 2016," especially those who introduce "new approaches" to proactively guard consumer privacy.

4. Counterterrorism technologies

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City led more startups to build safety and evacuation technologies, according to Moshe Hogeg, cofounder, managing partner and chairman of private VC fund Singulariteam. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in late 2015 will similarly motivate startups to provide "solutions for counterterrorism activities" in 2016, he says.

"Governments will be looking to support technology that can protect them from such attacks," according to Hogeg, and startups poised to help with security will thrive in 2016. "You can already see a trend with smart cities that are looking for command control systems" to help prevent terror attacks, he says. 

The battle against terrorism will also increase interest in "robots that can spare human lives" in hostage situations, according to Hogeg. "The relevancy of current affairs is making waves, and the urgency for governments to protect their citizens will set the trend" and influence where the 2016 VC money goes, he says.

5. Cybersecurity services to protect enterprises

Malicious hackers and cybercriminals "are continually getting more sophisticated, requiring new ways for companies to protect themselves," says Theresia Gouw, cofounder and managing partner with Aspect Ventures

As soon as new security solutions emerge, hackers begin to find ways around them. "The problem with the cybersecurity industry is that hackers always seem to be one step ahead," Gouw says. "There will never be a silver-bullet solution, which means lots of opportunities for innovation."

In 2016 and beyond, the security world will continue to transition away from on-premise security appliances and products, which can be expensive and too complex to maintain, according to Gouw. Instead, a movement will take place toward "cloud-centric security offerings that simplify the network architecture, making it easier to deliver security across an increasingly distributed and mobile enterprise," she says.


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