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Opportunities, thanks to the pandemic

Back to basics or fast forward to the innovative. Photo Credit: Melvyn Mangion

Continuous innovation and increase in productivity are well shaped into human history. Sometimes there are difficult and sluggish periods of growth along the way. However, the humans’ unique ability to make and improve our own tools generally keeps progress marching forward.

Whenever there is a crisis—be it war, pandemic, or financial free-fall—the demand for innovation and increased productivity intensifies. We need more from our tools (and we need new tools) during those periods. This would allow the process of innovation to accelerate.

The world is in one of those periods right now. COVID-19 has forced humanity to hit the accelerator on several trends that were already growing steadily.

The below are some important trends COVID has expedited. There are opportunities where to invest and build for the future.

A digital revolution

A digital revolution began decades ago with personal computers. It had an immense impact on our society. The difference now is that its growth is getting faster and heading deeper into sectors people never imagined it would touch.

Pandemic lockdowns and quarantines accelerated the digital revolution because everyone had to figure out how to continue working and functioning in daily life while isolated. The rise of Zoom to a household name is a great example, but that only scratches the surface of what is possible. For instance, one can now have that same Zoom call quickly transcribed by an artificial intelligence assistant.

As the effects of the digital revolution compound, the number of concepts moving from science fiction to mainstream will continue to grow. That makes it an excellent time to invest in the underpinnings of the digital revolution, like internet infrastructure and security.

Medical technology

The global population is aging rapidly. This is common in almost all corners of the world. Europe is now an ageing population. In the U.S., it is estimated that by 2034, the number of people aged 65 and older in the U.S. will outnumber those aged 18 and under. This fact alone can help you see why demand for better treatment and medical technology was already increasing before COVID. Simply put, when people live longer, they spend more on health care to maintain a reasonable quality of life.

COVID has accelerated existing trends toward telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and precision medicine. A pandemic that overwhelmingly affects older populations has created high demand for effective virtual diagnosis and treatment of other illnesses and injuries. In addition to telemedicine, the biotech and medical device sectors are all experiencing a surge of investment as the population ages.

Robotics and automation

The digital revolution going on in software, AI and cloud computing was unimaginable up to few years ago. These are not the only huge changes we are witnessing. Robotics and automation are industries currently flourishing as their products become capable of performing a dizzying array of tasks.

The necessary physical isolation of humans during the pandemic has led to a boom in that sector, as well. When people cannot go to work, organizations begin to consider whether a robot can do the job a human used to.

As the demand for robotics increases, there are good investment opportunities in the sector, as well as in the smart hardware and sensors that will enable robots to handle more physical challenges on their own.

The Geopolitical landscape is changing

Anti-globalization started before COVID. Trade disputes, labour issues and friction between countries were facts of life long before the pandemic circled the globe.

However, COVID put this trend on the fast track. Borders closed, the blame game began and, perhaps most importantly, supply chains started to fray and break. Countries were scrutinizing their supply chains for personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Technically advanced countries will continue to invest in areas like automation to enhance productivity and manufacturing capabilities, while less-developed countries will try to speed up the development of cutting-edge technologies.

We are at the end of an economic cycle, and into a new one.

About the Author
Melvyn Mangion is an investor with consolidated experience in the financial services industry and public/media relations. He has served in important roles within the Government of Malta and was also responsible for the euro changeover campaign in Malta.
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