The Year Ahead: 5 Tech Trends to Focus on in 2019

What will the world’s startups focus on? What kind of innovation is hot?

The year 2018 will be remembered, in part, for the influence that corporations had on the innovation community in developing exciting technology. We wrote about this in our 2018 Year in Review– an analysis based on a corporate survey we released plus input from our member business incubation programs. Looking forward, the new year presents even more challenges and opportunities for innovation, with sweeping changes in the world of politics, social needs and technological advancement. In this article, UBI Global is looking ahead at the five key technology trends shaping the innovation landscape in 2019, some of which may surprise you.

With another year in the history books, entrepreneurs and the programs that support them have an opportunity to reflect on the peaks and valleys, valuable lessons learned, and exciting new trends. Entering 2019, business incubators and accelerators as well as, their corporate partners and sponsors should take note of technology trends. These will be important to the innovation community more than ever before.

Politics and the Technology Landscape: The “Base Trend” To Watch

Back in July of this year, our article about the positive effect that tech startups in Britain were experiencing because of Brexit caused a lot of discussion in the global innovation community. Offering a new perspective on the political climate and the way it influenced corporations and startups, we still believe that challenging political climates can turn into opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Negotiations for Brexit are still underway as of this writing, and we still believe that there will be more startups and scale-ups in Britain than ever in 2019, offering solutions in fintech, cyber security and other technologies required by the new and ever-changing landscape of the United Kingdom and Europe. Politics and its effect on technology and the innovation landscape at large is an area to watch.

Which Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

UBI Global has a natural interest in the trends our member programs witness in their local innovation ecosystems. Located in over 90 countries around the world, our members are the worldwide innovation community that we benchmark and promote in order to provide education and maps to success and growth. Earlier this year, we surveyed them with regard to the technologies that were setting trends. Below are the technologies that their startups are currently focusing their efforts, and in turn the incubation programs are supporting.

We believe these five technology areas are worth watching. Below, we investigate their associated trends and touch upon what to expect in 2019.

Trend #1 – Internet of Things (IoT)  

From vehicles and wearable gadgets to refrigerators, human life is evolving to become a network of connected gadgets. These all work together to make life easier, more efficient and more intuitive. UBI Global predicts, as do many other entities focused on innovation, that the IoT market will continue to grow and become the norm. Going from millions of devices to billions in just over a year’s time, IoT devices that started out with just one function are becoming more and more advanced and intuitive. Data experts predict that around 3.6 billion devices will connect to the internet to perform daily tasks in 2019.

Because of this exponential growth in IoT, other technologies will need to follow suit. To keep up with the demand of IoT, advancements in cyber security, artificial intelligence and other companion technologies will be mandatory as the devices strengthen and grow. It is not a coincidence that these complementary technologies also made our technology trend focus list. We will delve deeper into those technologies in future articles, but there are indicators of growth during the coming months that deserve exploration now, while they are just starting to come forward. Edge computing, for example, is one trend just breaking out of the IoT environment.

In simple terms, edge computing moves data, applications and services away from the center of the network into the edge. The logical portion of applications can then take place closer to the source of action in the physical world. The advantage to edge computing includes a decrease in data volumes that need to move over the network and the traffic this creates, reducing latency and improving service quality. Edge computing also removes the “single point of failure” that all administrators of core computing environments fear. Think of the O2 data network outage recently experienced globally because of an alleged failure by Ericsson to recertify a single piece of software, and you can see that a single point of failure is definitely not acceptable in any infrastructure. The idea behind edge computing is to provide interaction between humans and computers by reducing the time it takes to get results that the user asks for. While IoT focuses on the communication and the data collected from users on the devices, edge computing is concerned with the networks and systems that do the work.

IoT and edge computing are often classed as sub-disciplines of each other, but both work together to revolutionize product design and predictive analytics, both of which speak directly to modern consumer’s desire for fast, seamless, and personalized interaction with their devices. Look for edge computing innovations as a big trend in startups for 2019.

Trend #2 – Big Data

Data can be moved quickly and stored cheaply, which has contributed to the development of IoT technology. This resulted in large data stores, referred to as big data, metadata or even as data lakes. Big data will gain significant ground, fueled by an explosion of user information gathered by the growth of IoT devices. This will drive corporations of all sizes to develop and adopt machine-learning technologies that can swim through these data lakes and bring back relevant, useful information in a timely fashion.

Big data has placed a huge burden on data analysis as well as computing infrastructures. These infrastructures have to adapt to deal with the volume and complexity of the big data that is gathered and organized in real time. Fueling everything from machine learning to software as well as the daily decisions of management and CEO’s, big data may seem ubiquitous to most users, working in the background to provide the data they require in a few clicks. In reality, what the user does not see is that big data is placing a big demand on networks, storage, and applications that make the data itself useful. Meanwhile, the demand and the data continue to grow.

Important leaders in big data startups will include data management technologies focused on improving communication and automation of real-time information between data teams, IT teams, and business managers. Referred to as DataOps, data management innovation will revolutionize the integration, sharing, and availability of data for more efficient performance from technical and non-technical users.

New, innovative microservices will be born that focus on these data processing efficiencies. Keep an eye out for entrepreneurs that focus on big data services of all sizes in all industries.

Trend #3 – Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Experiencing a dramatic rise in the development of tools and applications, platforms based on AI or machine learning have made a dramatic impact on a host of different industries in 2018. It will continue to outperform estimates in 2019. Corporations like Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and more are pouring R&D investment funds into AI-related technology development. Most of us have experienced AI technology in daily life through the pervasive use of Natural Language Generation, a form of AI, used for everything from product listings online to chatbots, who served us answers to our basic questions with computer-generated, human-readable text in seconds.

As the demand grows for faster processing and advanced training of AI platforms, traditional computer processing hardware will rely more and more on specialized chips and complex hardware add-ons. Some of these have yet to be developed. Tasks such as facial recognition and object detection will be more in-demand, requiring extra speed as well as special, advanced abilities. Opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to focus on hyperscale, customized chip technology as well as application-specific integrated circuits that contribute to device capability will increase dramatically.

Once again, the edge computing layer will serve AI as well as various IoT demands. Specifically: for speech synthesis, video framing, time-series and unstructured data from microphones, RFID sensors and cameras of all kinds. Keeping in mind that all of these devices, their data and the analytics and storage to hold them need to run together in a framework and operate interactively. The ability to do all this across platforms certainly presents itself as an entrepreneurial opportunity, though a challenging one.

To meet this challenge three titans have stepped up to develop a deep learning model between different AI frameworks. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft are collaborating on the Open Neural Network Exchange or ONNX, which will become an important technology for the AI industry as well as others in 2019 and will fuel many startups as well.

Trend #4 – Digital Health

IoT and AI converged to create advances in digital health and wellbeing, including health IT, social networking, mobile communication and personal information on health and genetics. Government sponsorship of AI health and wellbeing services has prompted a trending focus by startup companies all over the world. Digital health empowers users to track their own fitness, diet, history, and health care as well as research genetic information that provides insight into family health risks and hereditary conditions.

Digital health trends have changed the way individuals communicate with healthcare management and providers, offering innovative personal data. This makes health care more efficient and accurate as well as reducing costs. These trends also provide a more personalized quality of care, improving communication between provider and patient, as well as meeting unique needs with medications and innovative treatment. The growth of digital health care is fueling big data technology requirements as well as security, genomic technologies, IoT and AI, among others.

In the coming year, digital health startups will be influenced by big corporations seeking to innovate their own role in this industry. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all expressed interested in the health sector and some have even recruited top medical talent for development of new health care and wellbeing technologies.

The startup community is way ahead of the game, as always, attracting investment and support from some of the top corporations in the world, which will continue exponentially during 2019.

Trend #5 – Gamification

Already prevalent in some of the most important and controversial 2018’s social media changes and upgrades, gamification features have been popping up on platforms like Facebook. Social media platforms around the world have added tools that enable content creators to add polls, quizzes and questions to live video and other user engagements. Using a human’s natural competitiveness and desire to succeed as a way to engage for online content delivery is not new, but it is becoming significantly easier with the increased use of AI and IoT applications.

Digital and internet based gaming systems have become a serious business, relying on people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds to play games for fun and, occasionally, for profit. Gamification features lend themselves naturally to non-gaming areas, resulting in an increase in systems design and experimental development across industry borders. Gamification is poised for impact to startups in media and marketing, education, professional training, digital healthcare, human resources, and crowdsourcing.

UBI Global member programs tell us that gamification technology is just getting started, but is showing huge promise and increasing corporate interest going into the 2019.

Go Beyond “Just” Watching the Trends: Activate Your Innovation

It is certainly an exciting time for the innovation community, and UBI Global will continue to provide in-depth information on trending technologies. Future articles will explore the global political climate and how it influences corporations and, in turn, the innovation community. Our topics will also include a look at the rise of nano influencers, and how human individuality will guide coming trends and affect diversity along the way.

The year 2019 will certainly be an exciting one, so come on board UBI Global’s interactive learning community by becoming an official member. Membership is just a few clicks away, offering a wealth of knowledge, information and networking to your innovation program strategy. Corporations or government agencies who are seeking local and international innovation opportunities should get in touch with the UBI Global team, who is ready to welcome you into the interactive learning community.

UBI Global provides incubation programs around the world with multiple ways to activate your innovation in 2019, including:

Mark your calendars for 28-31 October in Doha, Qatar for the World Incubation Summit 2019. Including a tour of the local ecosystem, attendees will also experience a seminar on the IncStart Accelerator Program. WIS19 promises to be two days of networking, learning, and collaborating face-to-face with incubators, accelerators, corporate representatives, and innovation experts from around the world. Opportunities for in-depth enrichment featuring tours, workshops, and informal seminars are also part of this comprehensive global conference. In January, we will launch the website where you can read more and register to attend. Stay tuned! (To understand the richness of the event: take a look at WIS 2018 held earlier this year in Toronto, Canada.)

Business incubators and accelerators worldwide participate in the UBI World Benchmark Study and your program is invited to be part of this report. The study is now in its fifth year and marks program impact and performance, highlights best practices, and reveals leaders and shares their success stories with the innovation community. Insights presented by UBI global are data-driven, based on over 300 participants from around the world. We kick off the study for participation in January and will release the results and announce the top programs in Doha, Qatar at the World Incubation Summit.

UBI Connect is networking on a global scale, exclusively for incubators and accelerators at universities and other centers of excellence. Through an intuitive menu that is both easy and smart, UBI Connect will become the go-to application for sharing ideas and posting thoughts. The Live Feed area of the platform is for quick news items at-a-glance while longer discussions take place in the Forum section that features categorized topic headings. Separate sections for News and Events are available to publish information to users about exciting activities that programs are participating in no matter where they are the world. Finally, the Incubators & Accelerators, People and Companies areas of the platforms are where users can find important networking contacts, post new ideas and best practices, and share useful solutions. Members can login here.

The Best Practices at University-linked Business Incubators and Accelerators Reports present a unique look on the operations, business model and revenue strategies of top business incubators and accelerators as told by their Directors and CEOs. The incubation programs selected from among the top-ranked incubators and accelerators participating in the UBI Global World Benchmark Study 2017 – 2018. These programs excel in both impact and performance relative to their global peers, with defining characteristics that set them apart as thought leaders for the innovation community. Members receive the Best Practice Report and other original studies cost-free via UBI Connect’s Media Center. Otherwise, insights can be purchased here.


The Importance of Community For Innovation

The word community is defined as a group with a shared attitude and interest, and no group ever embodied the word as perfectly as the incubation community. UBI Global offers an exploration of the common interests –growth, job creation, and success – of business incubators and accelerators, the programs that nurture them, and the corporate community that supports them through a network of resources.

Bringing together a community of like-minded innovators and the programs that support them is not enough. Fostering a culture of communication, support and mentorship is essential to the growth of the community. There is a cautionary tale that is passed around the startup community about an entrepreneur who had a fantastic idea, built a website that users loved, and sat back and waited for success. Sadly, without engaging with peers and mentors, success did not ever happen for the fictional startup. Fortunately, the real innovation community is wiser than that and understands the value of connectedness.

Nurturing Startups for the Greater Good

Corporations who support the innovation community are doing much more than folding new, disruptive technologies into their own brand. These corporations recognize that investing in business incubation and acceleration creates jobs.

In fact, a Kauffman Foundation report from 2015 already pointed out that nearly all the net new job creation and almost 20 percent of gross job creation was down to new businesses. When new businesses join the community and create jobs, the ecosystem around them grows as well, inspiring more talent and more entrepreneurship.

An exciting example of community spirit in the innovation community can be found in the well-funded US initiative run by Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL. Along with his Washington, DC-based venture capital firm and “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance, they are forming a road tour to seek out potential startups outside Silicon Valley, Manhattan, and Cambridge. By seeking growth opportunities in the “rust belt” cities of Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Case and his fellow venture capitalists are making investments that help US communities that are struggling by investing in their growth. JD Vance stated the following, proving that corporations, startups and incubators and accelerators truly have a community spirit:

“The way I put it is, if you don’t want to be an outsider to an ecosystem, don’t be an outsider,” Vance said. “I think if you’re just going in, writing a check, and not doing anything else, then you’re not going to get to know the people that you need to get to know to make that ecosystem successful.”

Why Optimize Business Incubators and Accelerators

Much like the startups they nurture to success, incubators and accelerators need the same community spirit and mentoring. However, they often find themselves working independently. Focusing on their own community gives programs little time to interact with other program experts and to form valuable relationships. The Best Practices Report volume two, recently published by UBI Global, highlights the best practices of the top 12 programs with globally recognized high-performance value for the communities they serve, the startups they foster and the program success and future growth.

Distilled from the best-of-the-best in The World Benchmark Study, the Best Practices Report offers programs of all sizes a road map to follow on the path of their own success, as demonstrated by the top-ranked programs worldwide. The programs featured in the report excel in both their impact in the communities they serve and their performance compared to their global peers. Participation in the World Benchmark Study is open to UBI Global Members and offers a unique insight into other programs and the communities that have grown up around them. The information gleaned from participating in The World Benchmark Study gives programs a clear picture of how their approach, skills, and events compare to the efforts of their peers around the world.

Program in Focus – SETsquared, Bath, United Kingdom

The best example of a high community value program is SETsquared, managed by the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton, and Surrey. Earning a five out of five- star rating in the Value for Ecosystem category of the World Benchmark Study propelled SETsquared to a place of honor in the Best Practices report volume two as a program benchmarked among the best in the world.

SETsquared focuses on nurturing quality tech startups through their own program of mentorship and development. By matching the startup with the market they focus on, a program they have titled ICare, SETsquared provides their startups with the support of a wide business community that nurtures them to successful graduation. SETsquared has developed a solid reputation for economic growth, which has attracted more market leadership involvement as well as more entrepreneurship throughout the region.

By becoming a partner in EuroIncNet, a European UBI Global Member network formed of the top programs in the region, SETsquared has joined an innovation community they can lean on for support and guidance as Brexit moves forward. This network of programs will become vital not only to SETsquared but also to their startup members during this time of uncertainty and into the future.

Membership in the UBI Global Interactive Learning Community

UBI Global shares a passion for the world innovation industry, connecting more than 1200 members in over 90 countries by benchmarking them in the World Benchmark Study and publishing the results in the World Benchmark Report, Best Practices Reports, and Startup Success Stories Reports. These original insights into business incubators and accelerators are put to use daily by hundreds of programs to inspire and increase their own value to their innovation ecosystem, to their client startups and to their own program and their university partners.

Membership in UBI Global includes education and best practices information updated on a regular basis so that it remains evergreen and full of the latest tips. As a UBI Global Member, you will also enjoy discounts and priority seating at the World Incubation Summit and UBI on-Tour. Members also enjoy the most exclusive form of innovation networking in the world with UBI Connect, a global engagement platform for innovation hubs. Just a simple two-step process is all that stands in the way of your membership, so what are you waiting for?

UBI Connect is one way to interact with the global innovation community

Activate Your Innovation with UBI Connect: Where the Magic Happens

Making innovation happen does take a community of leaders and mentors, and UBI Connect is your chance to embrace the world of business incubation and acceleration and the innovation supported. UBI Connect embodies the five biggest benefits of connecting with your peers in the innovation community, which are:

  1. Peer Advice – Tap into knowledge not otherwise accessible from the innovation community at large. Networking with the best-performing programs means gaining advice and learning a fresh approach to challenges as well as opportunities. This practical information from fellow professionals supports initiatives for improvement, growth, and sustainability.
  2. Business Opportunities – You never know what opportunities are around the next corner.  Becoming visible in the global ecosystem is an easy way to meet peers and uncover opportunities for impactful collaborations. Meeting in real life evolves and becomes targeted as well as effective, after establishing a connection online first.
  3. Friendship – Like-minded innovators exchanging information and experiences within the UBI Connect platform will encourage each other, meet face-to-face on a regular basis at events such as the World Incubation Summit, and form a strong bond of friendship and support. Surrounding yourself with positive people encourages growth and provides inspiration.
  4. Personal Growth – Regularly sharing knowledge and useful information makes one smarter and increases one’s reputation as a thought leader. Relationships developed thanks to UBI Connect can further careers.
  5. New Ideas – Perhaps the most obvious benefit of becoming active in UBI Connect, is being able to connect with peers in the same community and build relationships. From these connections and the trust they are built upon, come new ideas and opportunities for growth that are unrestricted by borders or geographies.

Through an intuitive menu that is both easy and smart, UBI Connect will become your go-to application for sharing ideas and posting thoughts. The Live Feed area of the platform is for quick news items at-a-glance while longer discussions take place in the Forum section that features categorized topic headings. Separate sections for News and Events are available to publish information to users about exciting activities that programs are participating in no matter where they are the world. Finally, the Incubators & Accelerators, People and Companies areas of the platforms are where users can find important networking contacts, post new ideas and best practices, and share useful solutions.

UBI Connect is free with your Membership, along with other exciting opportunities including the UBI Global World Benchmark Study, the World Incubation Summit and the exciting World Startup Challenge.


UBI Global Appoints Head of Communications

Global Pioneer in Business Incubation Insight with Worldwide Innovation Community Strengthens Resources

Stockholm, Sweden – UBI Global ( announced today that Samara H. Johansson has joined the company as Head of Communications to further develop their global brand and drive growth in membership, corporate sponsorships, and international events. Samara comes with a wealth of experience, having spent the past fifteen years in various roles within both marketing communications and marketing research and in a variety of industries both in the U.S. and Sweden. She has led projects and implemented expansion strategies at esteemed corporations such as digital research firm Harris Interactive, in health and financial services at MetLife and Guardian, and most recently in HR technology at Benify. Additionally, Samara has co-founded and runs a membership organization, numbering 2,000 people, based in Stockholm which assists educated immigrants in entering the Swedish labor market.

With an MBA in marketing from Boston University and a series of diplomas and certificates in social media and digital communications, Samara is applying both her education and leadership experience to helping UBI Global succeed in its next phase of international growth, both online and off.

Samara H. Johansson joins as Head of Communications to continue UBI Global’s recent expansion to enable innovation through impactful collaborations worldwide. This includes growing the reach and services for its interactive learning community and uncovering business opportunities to match corporations and governments with innovative incubators and their 20,000+ startups. In 2019, the company will be heading to Qatar to arrange an global conference with corporate partners called the World Incubation Summit; reveal the World Benchmark Study results, and announce top-performers of its global rankings of business incubators and accelerators.

Samara comments “I am pleased to join the leadership team at UBI Global and to grow the marketing and communications function so that the company can be better positioned for its next stage of growth. The company makes a significant impact already by connecting the innovation ecosystem actors worldwide with each other, something no other company can say. And by introducing them to multinationals searching for new ideas and investment opportunities, UBI Global affects the fate of these programs– and the startups they foster– both in developed and developing regions in the world. I look forward to working within the dynamic field of global innovation and with a team that is as international as the members and clients it serves.”

Ali Amin, CEO of UBI Global said:

“Samara is an outstanding addition to the team and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. We view Samara’s appointment as a key signing in providing and implementing a clear, crisp and inspiring communication voice throughout all of our world activities. We are more than excited to have her on the leadership team and we feel very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Samara’s caliber to fulfill this role“


About UBI Global

UBI Global is an innovation intelligence company and community, founded in 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden to identify where innovation hubs are located worldwide and to learn and share what makes them successful. It conducts the World Benchmark Study biennially for business incubators and accelerators and helps programs with assessment, best practices, and recognition. The resulting research from the studies has been featured on BBC Radio, Chicago Tribune, Le Figaro, Der Standard, Huffington Post, Irish Times, France 3, and other media outlets.

UBI Global engages its interactive learning community with international events, competitions, and awards, as well as a suite of education materials, original research, and management tools. Members worldwide collaborate and exchange information through the UBI Connect communication platform. To further its impact, UBI Global links corporations and governments to innovation hubs and their startups to uncover business opportunities for economic development. The vetted network consists of 1200 incubation programs, with the majority linked to universities and other centers of excellence. These members represent 20,000+ startups and are located in 90 countries and counting.