Promising Industries Investors Should Be Watching This Year


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Fast-moving markets are a lot like whitewater rapids — they are unpredictable and hard to navigate. For investors and business leaders, the challenge lies in knowing where to allocate resources to ensure sustainable growth. One wrong move, and your company can land on the rocks.

Global economic volatility dominated 2023, marked by trade tensions, slowing growth and political instability. Despite this, the U.S. is projected to experience slower growth in 2024 due to rising debt and interest rates, but a rebound is expected in 2025 as inflation and rates normalize. U.S. consumer spending, strong in 2023, is anticipated to slow in 2024 with rising debt but is expected to recover with falling inflation and interest rates. Business investment slowed due to higher rates, while residential investment saw a temporary increase from high demand.

However, significant improvement is unlikely until rates fall. Government spending, which boosted the economy through infrastructure projects in 2023, is expected to slow in the coming years due to political uncertainties. A tight labor market, driven by retiring baby boomers, is expected to remain resilient despite a slowing economy, preventing a recession and fostering growth next year. Inflation is projected to reach the Fed's 2% target by Q3 2024, triggering interest rate cuts beginning in June. Our baseline U.S. economic forecast for 2024 can be summed up by the number 2024 — 2% growth, zero recessions, 2% inflation and unemployment staying at roughly 4%. However, there are clearly risks that could divert us from that path.

As the CEO of a growing photonics company, monitoring market trends and identifying promising sectors is a major function of my job. This year, I have singled out four core industries that we as tec5USA have significant insights into — the semiconductor market with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), food, healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotechnology — that offer the intrepid investor myriad opportunities.

Related: 5 Sectors Investors Are Bullish About Despite Global Downturn

The intelligent choice

AI is on the minds of many people, and for good reason. It is revolutionizing industries across the board because it makes everybody's lives so much easier. On a recent business trip to San Francisco, I saw more autonomous Waymo (driverless) vehicles on the road than I did on prior visits, with neither driver nor front-seat passengers on board.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes of AI technology, especially when it comes to specialized hardware. GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) require HBM (High Bandwidth Memory), which, in turn, is stimulating memory chip growth this year. Prominent players in this arena — among them, Nvidia, the clear market leader — include AMD, Alphabet (Google), Intel and IBM.

Food for thought

UN projections put the global world population at a staggering 9.8 billion by 2050, with much of the growth expected in developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. A growing population means heightened demand for food. Clearing land for animal ranching is not a viable option anymore considering the deleterious environmental impact. That is where cell-cultivated meat sources, plant-based options and alternative foods, such as algae, come into play. Companies including Switzerland-based Nestle (one of the biggest in the world), Tyson, Kellogg's, General Mills and Hormel have entered the fray.

Pet food manufacturing, a related market segment, is also experiencing robust growth. As consumers increasingly make healthy food choices for themselves, they demand the same high quality for their beloved pets. Similar methods to manufacture food for people apply to pet food, and many of the same companies, such as Mars Petcare, Nestle Purina and Hills Petcare, are cashing in on this burgeoning market.

Related: This Deep Tech Firm Is Positioned To Lead the Cultivated Meat Manufacturing Revolution

A welcome shot in the arm

The era of enhanced diagnostics has dawned, and healthcare professionals have an array of state-of-the-art instruments at their fingertips that were not available a few years ago. A notable innovation is optical coherence tomography — a technology like ultrasound but based on light — which is being increasingly used to identify various eye diseases, such as macular degeneration.

In the area of cancer diagnostics, several cutting-edge tools have paved the way for early detection. One such detection method uses a fiber optics probe connected to a Raman spectrometer, employing a machine learning algorithm to detect malignant tissue in real-time, offering a faster alternative to biopsy. Among the companies devoting resources to enhanced diagnostics and NGS (Next-Generation Sequencing) are Roche, Illumina and Intuitive, which pioneered its Da Vinci surgical robot more than 20 years ago.

Future cancer diagnostics are likely to continue evolving towards more personalized and precise approaches, including the integration of advanced technologies such as liquid biopsies for circulating tumor DNA detection, single-cell analysis techniques and artificial intelligence-driven predictive modeling. These methods aim to improve early detection, monitoring of treatment response, identification of drug-resistant mutations and the development of tailored therapeutic strategies for individual patients, ultimately enhancing cancer management and outcomes.

Next-generation sequencing for cancer diagnostics involves extracting DNA or RNA from a tumor sample, which is then fragmented, amplified and sequenced to identify genetic mutations and alterations associated with cancer development.

Related: 9 Huge Opportunities in Healthcare for Tech-Focused Entrepreneurs

The personal touch

The advent of genetic mapping has opened the door to new drugs and therapies tailored to individuals. With the aid of DNA analysis, a medical practitioner can determine the best pharmaceutical to treat a specific condition. Many companies are now exploring novel ways to produce medication, including 3D printer technology. The benefits to patients are numerous: precise dosages, pinpointed drug release and unique shapes and sizes to promote ease of swallowing.

In addition to genomics and genetic testing, molecular diagnostics, liquid biopsies and pharmacogenomics, also high-resolution imaging technologies, such as MRI, CT, PET and molecular imaging techniques, aid in much better disease diagnosis, treatment planning and response assessment in personalized medicine.

All the major players in the pharma industry are jumping on the personalized medicine bandwagon, including Roche, Novartis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, BMS and Merck, to name a few.

Because there are uncertainties in any market, even those earmarked for growth, it is crucial that investors do their research. That strategy could mean the difference between a company hanging on for dear life on a metaphorical, white-knuckled rafting ride down a raging river or avoiding heavy rolls on a cruise ship en route to its next port of call: return on investment.

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