The industrial revolution, followed by the introduction of the personal computer, the internet, the smartphone, and cloud computing has had the effect of dramatically increasing human productivity, driving economic growth, improving the world’s average standard of living and lifted generations out of poverty while dramatically reducing hunger.
The world population was around 1 billion in the year 1800 and is now over 8 billion. Population growth, coupled with productivity, has meant billions emerging out of poverty, and massive growth of the middle class with more disposable income.
Since 1800, global life expectancy increased from less than 30 to over 72 years. Every geography has benefitted; in every region across the globe people today can expect to live more than twice as long.
But we’re starting to see evidence of headwinds.
After 69 years of uninterrupted increase (from 1950 to 2019), global life expectancy has declined the last three years.
After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting nearly 10% of people globally. From 2019 to 2022, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million, a crisis driven largely by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
With growing population, we face new challenges, such as urban congestion and density. We’re starting to see evidence of negative impact on the earth’s soil. Rapid population growth strains both access and equitable distribution of food.
Authoritarian regimes continue to flex their power, threatening to disrupt the world order. Capitalism seems to be showing some signs of fraying at the periphery; blindly pursuing individual self-interest has resulted in increasing inequality of income and wealth in some economic systems. While the standard of living is dramatically higher for all, many will be left behind even as others become richer.
Technology has brought with it other challenges.
As we’ve all benefited from our daily lives becoming digitized, we’ve greatly expanded the digital “surface area” vulnerable to manipulation, hacking and cybercrime. Productivity and cost gains from our tightly managed supply chain has benefited consumers and companies alike. But the side effect is that this very same supply chain, on which we’ve become critically reliant, has become increasingly complex, interdependent and susceptible to single points of failure.
Climate change threatens food security for billions and may force mass migration towards cooler climates. And finally, sadly, for all of our progress, we continue to witness child labor and safety issues risking human lives in many areas around the world.
What Role Can Mobility Play?
At Automotive Ventures, we believe that investment in Mobility solutions will uniquely alleviate many of humanity’s biggest challenges. Making dramatic advances in the way we move humans and cargo will help remedy some of the earth’s largest issues.
This potential impact is one of the key reasons underpinning investment into Mobility startups pacing at an all-time high. These investments span the continuum; exploring how to drive efficiencies in transport of both humans and cargo across different modalities: Land, Water, Air and Space.
Where are Mobility investments being focused? Venture capital funding is being deployed across a number of categories, including micromobility, electrification, connectivity, autonomy, air mobility, last-mile delivery, subscription, ride-hailing and even space travel.
At Automotive Ventures, we believe that the biggest opportunities for early-stage mobility investment are across the seven areas below.
Connectivity, Cybersecurity & Compliance
Autonomy, Robotics & AI
Shared Assets, Subscription & Convenience Economy
Decarbonization & New Energy Solutions
Digitization of Auto Commerce
Smart City & Urban Mobility
Agriculture Tech & Industrial
At Automotive Ventures, we aim to fund the next wave of innovation in transportation. This month’s Intel Report provides our reader insight into how we see the opportunity within these seven investment thesis areas. In future issues we’ll continue to unpack these areas.
Automotive Ventures aims to deliver long-term capital appreciation by investing in early-stage automotive and mobility technology companies that are best positioned to benefit from the industry’s biggest trends.
As always, we remain committed to seeking out and investing into innovative companies with strong potential for growth and profitability.
We believe every investor should have a strategic allocation to innovation, not only to access potential exponential growth opportunities typically absent from other asset classes but also to hedge against the increasing risk that industry incumbents will be disrupted.
As a team, we remain focused on identifying the most promising opportunities, supporting our portfolio companies in their efforts to scale and succeed, and generating strong returns for our investors. We believe that our strategy of investing in early-stage technologies will continue to pay dividends in the years to come.
Thank you for your ongoing support, and we look forward to working closely together with you to create the future of this industry.
It’s an exciting time to be in the automotive and mobility space, and I appreciate you being on this journey with us.
Steve Greenfield is CEO and Founder of Automotive Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm investing across the AutoTech and Mobility segments.
Note: This article was originally published in the May 2023 Automotive Ventures Intel Report.