Which innovations will emerge in your industry in 2022? A look at the Supertrends timeline reveals predictions such as “NASA’s space probe collides with an asteroid” in a manner similar to the popular Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up”, “Hyperimaging and AI provide humans with X-ray vision”, and “First commercial flight of a passenger air taxi”. In fact, the advances in technology may exceed your expectations in many areas. Let’s take a look at the most striking innovations that we can expect in 2022.
Healthcare industry: COVID-19, next-generation vaccines, and digitalization
January 2022 marks the start of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we may still not see the pandemic ending this year, we can expect new testing methods, such as a COVID-19 breathalyzer, that can test the virus rapidly and non-invasively. mRNA vaccines have been and probably will continue to be a major tool in our battle against COVID-19. Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on new mRNA vaccines targeting Omicron and other existing variants, which are likely to be available in a few months. We may also see the development of mRNA vaccines beyond COVID-19. Several mRNA influenza vaccines are already in the human trial stage. At the same time, DNA vaccines may become a good alternative for some countries, as they are easier to manufacture and store. The first DNA vaccine has received emergency use authorization in India.
COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated the digitalization of the healthcare industry. By digitalization, we are not just talking about telemedicine, which has been a critical tool during COVID times. From early diagnosis to drug discovery, artificial intelligence (AI) is being adopted by more and more sectors in healthcare. AI and virtual clinical trial (VCT) could be a valuable tool in improving the time-consuming and expensive clinical drug development process.
As age-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and dementia, become more common, researchers are increasingly starting to view aging as a disease. Anti-aging technology innovation aimed at increasing our lifespan and health span has also become one of the fastest-growing fields in life science. This trend will continue in 2022. Although we won’t see aging itself being reversed (yet), some of the first milestones to be reached in this field could be in age-related diseases, such as early detection of dementia through AI tools.
Below are some of the interesting milestones that have been predicted to come to pass in the healthcare industry in 2022. Interestingly, the first of these was reached sooner than expected:
- The first AI-discovered drug target and molecule enters clinical trial (in December 2021)
- The first DNA vaccine for humans is approved by the FDA
- An artificial pancreas is routinely available in the UK via the NHS
- Longevity investment company Juvenescence goes public
Energy, natural resources, and environmental industry: “Green” is the desired color
The energy sector will continue to adapt to a more sustainable approach. The integration of green hydrogen into energy systems could also be boosted by renewable energy projects, such as offshore wind farms.
Climate change continues to be high on the agenda in countries around the world. Another round of United Nations climate talks will take place in 2022. Green/sustainable technology will be adopted across industries. In December 2021, the green/sustainable tech sector got a boost in China when the country’s industry ministry unveiled a five-year plan to make industrial sectors “greener”. In Europe, as part of its general climate action plan, the European Commission (EC) has allotted significant funds to finance large-scale projects that would foster the commercialization of clean technologies. A financial aid package of around €1.3 to 1.5 billion is expected to be approved in the last quarter of 2022. We will monitor these developments closely to see which green innovations will win the EC’s support.
Efforts to preserve biodiversity will also be stepped up in 2022. Scientists have been warning for years that we are entering a mass extinction phase that could wipe out more than one million species. Increased extinction rates will threaten ecosystems and have severe consequences for the survival of humanity. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is scheduled to take place in April 2022 in China.
Some 28 percent of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for its survival watchlist are now at high risk of vanishing forever
The “green” trend and efforts to achieve global climate goals will impact other industries as well. In the fashion industry for example, we will see a shift towards more digital services, such as the opening of the world’s largest virtual fitting room, and environmentally-friendly products. Pandora, the world’s largest jeweler, has announced that they are shifting from mined diamonds to more sustainable lab-made diamonds this year.
Below are some of the milestones that this sector could achieve this year:
- The world’s first offshore green hydrogen plant begins operating
- IUCN’s Red List extended to include 160,000 species
- Geothermal energy is generated and sold in the UK
Food and agriculture industry: Alternative protein – it’s what’s for dinner
Cultured meat – the animal protein produced from cell cultures in bioreactors – has come a long way since the debut of the world’s first cell-cultured burger in 2013. In 2020, cultured chicken meat became the first commercialized cultured meat product. Quite a few start-ups have announced plans to bring cultured shrimp, cultured lobster, cultured foie gras, cultured fat, and cultured human milk to the market in 2022.
Another active player in the sector of alternative protein is insect protein, which has great potential as a future food because of its high efficiency and sustainability. Demand for insect protein is currently mainly for use as animal feed and pet food ingredients. In 2021, the yellow mealworm became the first insect food approved for human consumption in the EU.
We picked a few interesting milestones that could be realized in 2022 in the food and agriculture sector:
- The world’s biggest insect farm is opened with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes of insect products per year
- A cultured milk company is listed in the US stock market
- A cultured meat product that costs less than US$10 per pound is launched
Transportation, logistics and mobility industry: self-driving cars on the roads?
The COVID pandemic has been a driving force for digitalization and automation in several industries, especially the healthcare industry. However, this is not the case in the transportation, logistics and mobility industry. Disruptions to the supply chain and quarantines have caused delays in many projects, including the development of autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars. Will the development of self-driving cars catch up in 2022? According to the Supertrends radar, the UK and Germany may allow self-driving cars on their roads this year.
Another trend to watch in this industry is the shift toward renewable energy-powered ships. Today, cargo ships contribute only two to three percent of global CO2 emissions, but that share will increase when other sectors use less fossil energy. Shipping is expected to contribute up to 17 percent of total CO2 emissions by 2050. We may witness the shipping industry turning to clean energy to replace heavy fuel oil, starting with the world’s first ammonia-powered ship in 2022.
Below are a few 2022 milestones in this industry, and again the first predicted breakthrough occurred even sooner than anticipated:
- Germany allows autonomous vehicles on public roads (in December 2021)
- The world’s first ammonia-powered ship is launched
- First commercial flight of a passenger air taxi
- The first commercial solar car is on the market
Other industries and sectors: Keep your imagination alive
Another highly active industry is space exploration. In 2022, Europe may land its first rover on Mars through a joint Russian-European mission (ExoMars), a NASA space probe is scheduled to collide with an asteroid in a testing mission, and China’s first space station Tiangong will be completed. It’s going to get crowded even on the moon this year. Other than NASA’s moon mission, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea have all announced their own moon missions in 2022.
We are in an era of exponential innovation. Almost every sector is benefiting from new technology and creating new products, new markets, and new business models. Don’t be surprised if the innovation milestones below are achieved in 2022:
- Elevators travel to a height of 1km
- First flexible smartphone invented using ultra-thin chips
- Hyperimaging and AI provide humans with X-ray vision
- The first “augmented paper” enters circulation
- China rolls out a state-controlled digital currency using blockchain technology
- All products of a major fashion retailer can be viewed in augmented reality
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