Three Perth tech firms are creating their own deep tech to attract investors and create world-first innovations.
The startup community in Western Australia has grown significantly during the past decade. From a small, nascent community on the fringes, technology-led entrepreneurship has become an increasingly common career choice for some of the smartest brains in the state.
As this community has grown and matured, the types of problems it is tackling and the technologies it is leveraging have also advanced in sophistication. Increasingly, local startups are investing in ‘deep tech’ to create breakthrough products and services.
Deep tech refers to those ventures that create or leverage new scientific breakthroughs in order to create new value for customers. Think artificial intelligence, machine learning or the commercialisation of scientific research, all sophisticated approaches that require a deep level of expertise and a significant investment in their creation.
Three notable deep tech startups are making waves locally and receiving accolades internationally in a surprising array of fields, from improving the skills of soccer players to tackling obesity.
Based in Leederville, Boundlss is tackling the gargantuan task of ending lifestyle disease on a global scale using AI.
According to the World Health Organisation, up to 80 per cent of common chronic disease and 40 per cent of cancers could be prevented if those at risk made three simple lifestyle changes – increasing their exercise, improving their nutrition, and stopping smoking.
Barring surgical and medical intervention, one-on-one coaching has repeatedly been shown to be the most effective way of helping people reach their health and fitness goals.
Boundlss’s unique blend of human and AI coaching enables it to help tens of thousands of users daily – at a radically low price point – with the tech continuously learning over time to eventually become better than a real coach in its capabilities.
The Boundlss technology was recognised for ingenuity and impact at the 2019 ASEAN Rice Bowl Awards, where it won the award for ‘Best Digital Marketing Startup – Singapore’.
CEO Mike Kruger said the award was a critical milestone in the Boundlss journey.
“We’re very proud to be working with Great Eastern Life to improve the health of Singaporeans,” he said.
“Our AI coach, Geri, isn’t yet one year old but she’s already helped tens of thousands of people and she’s growing smarter by the day.
“I hope this award will encourage potential partners to join us in our mission to end lifestyle disease.”
Andrew Hall (a venture partner and director of the Founder Institute), David Budden (a former MIT postdoctoral researcher and AI researcher at DeepMind) and Holly Ade-Simpson (a software engineer, formerly of Google), founded Formalytics in 2016.
Their flagship product, myKicks.io, combines augmented reality, AI and computer vision to analyse the speed and accuracy of soccer kicks, directly on an iPhone.
The app automatically analyses kicks for improvements, helping soccer players around the world improve their skills.
The app launched in June 2018 and quickly climbed to the number one most downloaded sporting app on the UK, iOS App Store, with more than 500,000 kicks recorded to date.
Since launching, Formalytics has grown to a team of 12 engineering and product specialists with offices in Perth, Sydney and London.
The firm also recently secured a partnership with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to scale their products to European markets.
Established in 2017, Humm began as a student-led team with the big ambition of unleashing humans’ hidden brainpower through technology.
Two years on, the team is now based in San Fransisco following their recent completion of the coveted UC Berkeley Skydeck accelerator program.
Humm’s first product, Edge, is a wearable headset that improves memory. Based on emerging neurotechnology research, Edge has two primers that produce small electrical signals to adjust the wearer’s neurons in the prefrontal cortex.
While it sounds like science fiction, the company has attracted investor attention following results from its randomised trials. These results proved the Edge’s technology and demonstrated that it had the potential to increase working memory by up to 20 per cent.
The company recently shipped 350 orders to its oversubscribed early access community and has plans to grow in the months ahead.
“Our goal is to make neurotechnology appealing, accessible and really useful,” Humm co-founder Tim Fiori said.
“There is enormous potential for this technology to improve people’s lives, and we want to create the demand for great consumer products that is needed to drive the science forward.”