Fractus-UPC Deep Tech Hub reveals that AI and 5G-6G are the technologies with the highest potential for techno-social disruption

Presence at the Deep Tech Summit 2023

On November 28 and 29, it has taken place the Palau de Congressos de Fira de Barcelona, the Barcelona Deep Tech Summit. About fifty companies from the UPC and various researchers from the UPC have presented transformative developments and trends in energy transition, industry digitalization, connectivity, urban mobility, biomedicine and space technology. The Fractus-UPC Deep Tech Hub was also present.

Artificial intelligence, 5G-6G, big data, robotics, cybersecurity, computers and IoT protocols and 3D and 4D printing are the technologies with the most research groups at the UPC, according to the study 'Analysis, map and detection of Deep Tech areas and technologies'. Prepared with its own methodology within the framework of the Fractus-UPC Deep Tech Hub, the study detects the end of 16 technologies in which 50% of the University's research groups are distributed, depending on the social impact or industrial escalation.

Dec 05, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G-6G are the most researched Deep Tech technologies at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC). This is revealed by the study 'Analysis, mapping, and detection of Deep Tech areas and technologies', conducted within the framework of the Fractus-UPC Deep Tech Hub. The hub have been attended at the Barcelona Deep Tech Summit (BDTS), on November 28 and 29.

Other technologies such as Big Data, Robotics, Cyber-Physical Systems (which integrate physical processes and interconnected computational components), IoT Networks & Protocols, and 3D & 4D Printing also receive significant attention from UPC research groups. Nearly all of them are technologies with notable maturity levels according to the study, defined through the Technological Readiness Level (TRL) and Social Readiness Level (SRL) of each. These technologies are finding relevant applications in various sectors, from health to industry, optimizing results and processes.

These are some of the conclusions obtained from the report, which analyzes the research and development status of various technologies using a methodology developed by UPC. This methodology enables the identification of technologies that can truly be considered Deep Tech, meaning they have the potential to generate disruptive solutions developed around scientific discoveries and advanced engineering innovations. Additionally, these technologies can address global challenges, both social and economic, in the form of highly innovative products, services, or systems.

Own methodology

Indeed, the report is unique in its approach as it assesses both industrial scalability and social disruption criteria. This allows for the identification of technologies with the highest potential impact and the ability to address significant societal challenges.

In total, the study identifies up to 16 Deep Tech technologies at UPC, and Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Biometrics, Blockchain, and IoT Networks & Protocols score the highest aggregate scores in the UPC's analysis model. This means they have the highest potential to revolutionize and transform multiple industries and sectors simultaneously, spanning from the financial sector to energy efficiency, logistics, healthcare, and environmental sustainability, among others. Within this group, AI stands out with one of the highest ratings in the social disruption category due to its significant ability to impact privacy, civil liberties, and job and industry automation. On the other hand, IoT stands out for its high scalability potential, as it can transform the way industry, workers, and individuals interact with physical objects, both in smart homes and autonomous vehicles, with implications for energy optimization and sustainability.

Nearly 50% of the total research groups at UPC are involved in the research and development of one or more of the selected technologies, most of which can be applied across various sectors. Consequently, they contribute to addressing the challenges defined by the United Nations (UN) as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.

Ability to transition from research to business

The study also determines the relationship between technology and the generation of patents at UPC and spin-offs. While 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Bioinformatics, Photonics, and Robotics are the technologies that generate most patents, AI and Robotics have been more successful in creating spin-off companies, followed by Bioinformatics and Big Data.

This is related to the fact that among these technologies, there are those with more associated research groups, therefore, they have greater capacity, as well as very high scientific activity throughout the R&D+I value chain, from the most basic to the most applied. Additionally, it is worth noting that most patents and spin-off companies generated at UPC by these technologies focus on the healthcare sector.

It is anticipated that technologies such as 4D printing and 6G wireless communication systems, which are in the early stages of development with limited proof of concept and a long research path ahead, will become a continuation of already developed technologies, such as 3D printing and 5G, respectively.

AI, IoT, 5G and 6G, and Cybersecurity, the focus of the Hub for the new academic year

By understanding the potential of these technologies, the Fractus-UPC Deep Tech Hub team can focus its efforts on research and innovation areas that have the capacity to generate a significant impact on society. Thus, for the new academic year, the Hub will focus on IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and 5G and 6G technologies, areas in which UPC has demonstrated a high level of maturity and research productivity.

As stated by Carmen Borja, Chief Technology Officer of Fractus, “This report aims to present the results of a comprehensive analysis carried out to identify Deep Tech technologies. Thus, we provide an overview of the capabilities and strengths of UPC in the field of these advanced technologies and offer recommendations on how to leverage these capabilities and strengths for future applications. Now, from the Hub, we will focus on researching and bringing to the market through monetization 4 of the 16 identified technologies: IoT, AI, cybersecurity, and 5G and 6G technologies.”

For Climent Molins, Vice-Rector of Transfer, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, “This report provides an overview of the state of research and innovation at UPC in relation to technologies that could be classified as potentially Deep Tech. This way, we can understand which areas may have the greatest impact in the future from the perspective of social and economic disruption and the scalability of technology.”

The report 'Analysis, mapping, and detection of Deep Tech areas and technologies' provide Fractus with the opportunity to identify areas of knowledge with investment potential. Fractus was indeed the first spin-off emerging from UPC dedicated to Deep Tech, out of a total of 400 new companies created in the last 25 years under the umbrella of university knowledge. The experience gained by Fractus over these 25 years positions it as a company with a deep understanding of the Deep Tech market and technology monetization on a global level.

Therefore, the collaboration will allow the University and the company to progress in this direction, but with a greater understanding of the maturity level of each technology to bring to the market as innovation and thus impact the most necessary sectors or areas. In total, technology-based companies emerging from UPC in the last 25 years represent 40% of spin-offs in the entire university system of Catalonia. They have generated over 5,000 skilled jobs and more than 500 patents, and over 300 technologies have been licensed.

First anniversary of the Fractus-UPC Deep Hub

Through a collaboration agreement signed in September 2022 by the UPC dean, Daniel Crespo, and Fractus’ cofounder and Chairman, Rubén Bonet, the team that makes up the Hub aims to address current challenges through significant scientific and technological advances. Thus, the Hub's work focuses on promoting research, innovation, knowledge transfer, and bringing technologies to the market through monetization in areas such as mobility and logistics, materials, sustainability, urban planning, information and communication, biomedical engineering, and environmental and energy technologies.