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We previously reviewed the funding landscape for 2023 in our blog, Product Development Funding: Key Trends for 2024. We found that, while macroeconomic conditions have made for a cautious fundraising environment, there is promise of an upturn across all sectors from government-led initiatives and UK-wide accelerator programmes.

Continuing to focus on the three markets identified by the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) Corporate Plan, this blog looks at the top technology trends predicted for 2024 across MedTech, FemTech and AgriTech.

It is worth noting that trends in innovation can hint at focus areas for funding and investment – and vice-versa. We will therefore look to answer some key questions:

  • What innovations are gaining the most traction?
  • What trends will drive the next year of innovation?
  • What technologies should we be prepared for?

Trends in MedTech

First to explore is MedTech, the sector in which eg started and continues to specialise, having proudly developed successful medical devices since 2002. MedTech is a vitally important industry for the UK economy – representing over half of all life sciences employment – with new innovations emerging continuously to improve public and private healthcare. In particular, there seems to be a few recurring themes in findings from EY, Deloitte and McKinsey & Company, which we will detail below:

1. Digital health solutions will be increasingly designed for remote and home settings

A key takeaway from JP Morgan’s Health Conference 2024 is that MedTech companies will look to expand their role in digital health by adopting digitisation in their devices, digital tools and data assets to improve care outcomes.

UKTN echoes this finding, adding that solutions will increasingly be designed for remote or home use by a patient or a caregiver. MedTech News similarly highlighted the need for connected devices in digital health, where real-time health data can be stored and leveraged in smart devices. We discuss the optimum route to market in our blog ‘5 key considerations in connected device development’.

2. Wearables for neurological disorders will become more prevalent

In 2023, ‘diagnostics’ dominated the market according to industry analysts, accounting for 61% of total revenue share, which industry analysts predict will continue. The increasing prevalence of neurological disorders is reportedly a primary driver for this sector.

Solutions are likely to address the most common neurological conditions at present, including strokes, nervous system cancers, dementia, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. According to Grand View Research, wearables are likely to provide continuous monitoring during everyday activities for adults. For conditions that affect neonates or infants, like neonatal encephalopathy, human factors engineering is integral to consider different user needs in high risk environments.

3. Products tackling age-related conditions will prioritise human factors and usability

Although good progress has been made in tackling some of the pressures that health and social care systems face, there is a rising demand for health services due to an ageing population with chronic conditions, multimorbidity and complex healthcare needs.

Designing for older adults requires a nuanced understanding of the daily challenges they encounter. For example, individuals may experience reduced mobility, vision/hearing loss, and/or a decline in fine motor skills. Additionally, they may face difficulties caused by cognitive impairment, leading to issues affecting their memory, attention span, planning, decision making, understanding or concentration.

Patient-centred solutions are predicted to drive innovation in this space, integrating human factors and usability at all stages of the design process. User-centred designs will also facilitate considerations of a patient’s literacy, knowledge of technology and cognitive age. In particular, conversations across industry include designs featuring simplified interfaces (such as intuitive navigation), adjustable settings (such as customisable font sizes) and assistive technology (such as voice control).

We discuss the importance of integrating human factors and usability into medical device development in our eBook, User-Centred Design: The key to developing successful medical devices.

Trends in FemTech

The FemTech sector is witnessing significant growth, as signified in McKinsey & Company’s article titled ‘The dawn of the FemTech revolution’. As the women’s health space gains momentum, event agendas and organisations alike have picked up on three emerging trends:

1. Solutions will consider the impact of hormones on fertility, menstruation and menopause

Many organisations, such as FemTech World, agree that women’s healthcare is likely to see increasingly more solutions designed for remote and at-home environments. Focus areas are estimated to be home test kits that track different stages of the hormone cycle, as well as wearables and apps that improve precision in predicting ovulation and fertility.

In cases of self-reported data, we hope to see conversations around patient monitoring, data accuracy and test reliability. eg technology have discussed this in detail in our eBook – Connected Devices: A guide to developing the right product.

As with many technology sectors, AI is set to play a critical role in revolutionising reproductive planning. FemTech India has suggested there will be a compound annual growth rate of 19% over the next five years, as trained AI algorithms could analyse biological factors, such as age and genetic inherited conditions, as well as high- and low-quality embryos to provide personalised recommendations for optimising fertility.

2. AI will help to improve breast cancer diagnosis

According to EY, AI-driven product development has the potential to lower cost of care, and vastly improve patient access, patient experience and quality of care. This can include physical devices, such as AI-enabled wearables, handheld and point of care cancer screening devices, as well as digitisation, such as imaging-based algorithms and digital pathology.

Although AI-driven technology is improving fast to support cancer diagnosis, Dr. Lehman of Massachusetts General Hospital acknowledges that AI in breast imaging is still early in clinical implementation, as experts continue research into the implications of AI and regulatory trends. The outcomes of various ongoing research studies may hint at future product development trends.

3. FemTech start-ups are partnering with big players in different sectors

In the FemTech landscape, we are starting to see FemTech start-ups form strategic partnerships with biopharma, tech and beauty giants. It is worth noting that FemTech devices can be classified as a medical device or a consumer device depending on its direct application and associated regulation.

According to leading business magazines, such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review, partnerships can significantly accelerate product development and commercial success. By sharing resources, knowledge and audience, one or both companies in a partnership can rapidly reach important inflection points, while improving their reach and driving down operational costs.

Recently, L’Oréal partnered with Clue, a period-tracking app, to understand the relationship between skin health and the menstrual cycle, whilst FemTech start-up Soula sought collaboration to utilise Google’s medical language model to handle medical inquiries. Femtech Market anticipates similar partnerships will form in 2024, particularly to develop products that integrate technologies like AI and focus on sustainability and eco-friendly processes.

Trends in AgriTech

Sectors that improve biology and human health, such MedTech, have the potential for technology crossover within AgriTech. While some of the trends may therefore overlap, such as precision technology and AI-driven innovation, there are also some distinct trends that prioritise harvesting, crop management and environmental monitoring.

1. Product designs will likely continue to integrate robotics and automation

According to Deloitte, the AgriTech sector can expect to see further integration of robotics and automation. Digital solutions provider [x]cube LABS echoed this finding, adding that many products will utilise AI and IoT to optimise resource usage and reduce the risk of error or damage in the harvesting process.

In particular, industry analysts predict an increase in sensor-based products that may be equipped with computer vision, AI-enabled ripeness detection and robotic grasping. These innovations hope to boost productivity and alleviate some of the pressures on labour shortages and increasing costs within the industry.

Interestingly, product trends on robotics and automation have been discussed quite generally, where there is potential to differentiate between semi-automated technology (e.g., assisted steering) and fully automated systems (e.g., fruit picking robots) – some product innovations may even have the option of choosing between modes!

2. Smart sensors and IoT applications will improve practices in precision agriculture

Precision agriculture is expected to become a key focus area, according to leading organisations and news outlets, referring to observing, measuring and responding to inter- and intra-field variability in crops. The concept enables farmers to gain real-time insights and data on their crops, soil and surround environmental conditions. For example, products utilising smart sensors and IoT applications can prioritise real-time monitoring of environmental factors, like soil moisture, temperature and crop health.

Product development is expected to focus on providing real-time data and insights, particularly for analysis of crop health, soil conditions and optimal planting times. This may help farmers develop strategic plans – for example, deciding on what inputs (fertiliser, crop protection, seeds) to apply, at what times and what rates, to support profitability and sustainable goals.

3.  Sustainability will be a priority in product development

Given the sector has faced challenges from extreme weather to supply chain issues in recent years, it is widely estimated that innovation aimed at helping farmers reduce water usage, minimise pesticide usage and localise food production will trend in 2024.

In line with many conversations in industry, KPMG predicts that environmental sustainability will be a topic for product development and market advantages in the start-up landscape. The report advises start-ups to consider aligning sustainability-focused innovation with relevant government level strategies, such as the UK Net Zero Strategy and Northern Ireland’s Green Growth Strategy.

eg technology has also seen growing interest in sustainable product development and life cycle assessment, not only in AgriTech but also sectors, such as MedTech. Please get in touch to discuss sustainability in product design to support your development.

In Summary

Many of the predicted trends for 2024 seem to be natural continuations of trends and innovation from previous years.

A common thread amongst this year’s forecasted trends is the hope to improve product efficiency, precision and data-driven insights. Some will achieve these aims by utilising AI, robotics and task automation, while others will seek partnerships to leverage resources and expertise.

Newer trends will likely be shaped by market predictions and changes in society. Fertility and breast cancer R&D will feature on the women’s health agenda as the FemTech market grows, while patient-centred solutions for an ageing population will help to tackle current social challenges.

We are excited to see what 2024 has in store!

For more information or to chat with one of our team about your product design and development requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

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