Bogotá — It is estimated that Latin America has an ecosystem of 340 startups in the deepTech segment, companies developing scientific advances and significant engineering innovations, and which obtained financing of $2 billion in recent years from 65 funds and accelerators, according to a report by IDB Lab.
The report, entitled Deep Tech: The New Wave, states that the companies analyzed in this category make up an $8 billion ecosystem and generate more than 10,000 jobs.
The average returns of funds investing in deep tech are estimated to be between 22% and 30%.
By areas, biotechnology and artificial intelligence account for 72% of the startups.
BID Lab says that there are also companies engaged in sectors such as nanotechnology (6%), clean technology (5%), space (4%), advanced mobility (4%), robotics (2%), advanced manufacturing (2%), health technology (2%) and advanced materials (1%).
In the region, deep tech companies backed by investors in 14 countries were mapped by IDB Lab, which is the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group.
The largest number of these startups are concentrated in Argentina, with 103 deeptech companies, followed by Brazil with 101 and Chile with 65.
According to the IDB Lab report, “these countries have well-developed entrepreneurial capital ecosystems and are home to a significant concentration of researchers specialized in deep tech-related fields”.
“In the coming years, we anticipate that Mexico and Colombia will gain greater influence and that new countries will build their own ecosystems,” the report adds.
In terms of the total valuation of these startups, the countries that dominate in the region are Chile (with $2 billion in total value) and Brazil and Argentina (both with $1.9 billion).
The report also highlights the performance of Costa Rica, with companies in these sectors with $1.8 billion in total value, “which shows that the benefits of the deepTech revolution extend beyond the largest countries”.
In Latin America, says the report, there are 24 companies in the ecosystem that are worth more than $50 million.
The most valuable deep tech company in the region is medical device developer Establishment Labs, founded and based in Costa Rica, with $1.8 billion in market value and which is listed on Nasdaq.
It is followed by NotCo, a company that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of the food industry with products developed with artificial intelligence, and Bioceres, an agricultural biotechnology firm (both valued at more than $500 million).
For the authors of the report, the most important exit from the deep tech ecosystem so far has been that of security company Auth0, which was sold for $6.5 billion in 2021 to the US-based Okta.
In terms of capital raised in this field, Argentina leads, with $746 million, followed by Brazil with $441 million, Chile with $645 million and Costa Rica with $274 million.
In the case of Colombia, there are currently nine startups considered to be deep tech, and the entire ecosystem has a total value of $100 million, while this group of companies has raised $20 million in capital.
For the analysts, the deep tech segment has the potential for long-term growth of more than 100-fold, “due to the low penetration of venture capital investment focused” on this field and “the availability of a vast pool of researchers, engineers and technicians in the region, with a cost between five and 10 times lower than in developed markets”.
The study was supported by IDB Lab, AIR Capital, CITES, Deloitte, Draper Cygnus, The Ganesha Lab, GridX and Lab+.
“Deep tech is not for an elite. It is essential to understand its influence in the development of solutions to improve the lives of millions in vulnerable situations,” said BID Lab CEO Irene Arias Hofman about the outlook for these companies.