As we stand at the beginning of another year, it’s awe-inspiring to think that 2019 holds the promise of more innovation than any year before it – that is if the pace of innovation keeps accelerating, as it has been for decades.

But what will those innovations be? It’s tempting for the loud and immersive world of IT to enter our minds as the vanguard of innovation, but massive advancements occur just as frequently or even more so in other fields.

Just consider this small sample of new breakthroughs from the worlds of solar, biotech, agriculture, pharma, green energy, self-driving technology, media, space travel, financial services, ‘voluntourism’, medicolegal and unmanned aerial vehicles.

So what counts as innovation?

Past issues of Engenuity have shown that innovation can take many forms and flourish under very different conditions:

  • Inventions that go unnoticed for years can suddenly take off, like solar electricity generation.
  • New inventions can be unearthed by accident, or become a tradition grounded in R&D and collaboration.
  • Just as often, a problem-solving culture can have its origins in hard times or isolation.
  • Innovation need not be something new. It can involve a repurposing of old technologies.
  • And it need not be about products only – progress happens every day in areas as diverse as billing, marketing and supply chains.

What does the new year hold?

So, what exciting innovations could make their debut this year? Among others, the smart money points to:

  • Life sciences – printable organs, new cures from bacteria in the human body and real-time diagnostics mark the beginning of the end of cancer’s debilitating reign.
  • AI – 80% of enterprises are investing in artificial intelligence, now that consumer benefits are beginning to filter through.
  • The year of ‘phygital’ – not just e-commerce can benefit from marrying clicks and mortar. Training (simulation) and fashion (Tiffany’s ring app) can too, among others.
  • Blockchain – real crypto transaction volumes will start to flow this year.

With a bang

We could go on, but what innovations will truly blow the lid off 2019 is anyone’s guess.

One thing we do know is that “we don’t know what we don’t know”. That quote, from Elon Musk, reminds us that time spent reading is akin to time travel – and that’s as good a way as any to see the future.