Y Combinator is one of the most famous accelerator programs in the world. Since 2005, nearly 1600 nascent companies have benefited from its program. It goes without saying that this type of help is very much sought after worldwide. To help potential budding entrepreneurs the Mountain View headquartered company spread their knowledge by publishing in the magazine Quartz what they deem to be the most useful startups we’ll all need in 2018.

Specialists in Carbon Dioxide sequestration

Switching over to green energy may not be sufficient enough to meet the demands of the Paris Climate agreements, which have set out a maximum rise of 1.5°C in global temperature from climate change. To meet this target, another solution is at hand; sequestering carbon dioxide. This technology involves rapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, isolating it and rendering it harmless. Up to now though there are very few scalable technologies, even with calls for alarm from the Center for Carbon Removal.

Cultured meat farmers

Right now, with the advent of cultured meat, it is completely feasible to produce a food that is rich in protein without hurting a living animal. As well as that, traditional farming is also a major polluter: according the the EPA, greenhouse gases from agriculture are far higher than those created by automobiles. And let’s not forget the widespread use of antibiotics in farmed animals. The desire for a greener, healthier and ethical meat is why Y Combinator sees a future in cultured meat.

Producers becoming more ethical

Recently, the New York Times found that palm oil could be found in more than 50% of the products on our supermarket shelves. The direct consequence of this industry trend is the extinction of the Orangutan habitat. A better way of extracting the stuff without destroying the precious habitat is badly needed. For the moment, producers don’t particularly care: they jump in, chainsaw everything and burn the rest to the ground. This disaster could be a potential opportunity for young potential entrepreneurs.

Innovative shopping experiences

Amazon’s sales model is making brick and mortar stores uneasy. Instead of fighting the giant upfront, however, brands need to rethink their sales environment to offer a unique experience,  according to the accelerator. Tesla, for example, uses their showrooms as a complementary step to the online sales process. Y Combinator thinks that start-ups that specialise in this domain could prove useful, and not just for sales; restaurants and entertainment venues could benefit all the same.  

Finding a solution for improving Human memory

Right now, Transhumanism is a big trend in Silicon Valley. With the development of faster and better AIs, such as Google’s AlphaZero, humans could find themselves redundant. Outside of just improving memory, we could also be on the brink of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Could the solution be to combine man and machine? Y Combinator seems to think that innovations are sorely needed in this sector.

Making us live longer

We’re looking at seeding biotech companies focused on extending our lifespan. The first sector we want to focus on are age-related health issues and diseases” states Y Combinator. Google is already on the case with Verily and Calico, however there is plenty of room to play for small innovative start-ups.

Anti-fakery

DeepFake is getting out of hand, writes Motherboard. This AI driven technology allows the mapping of someone’s facial features onto someone else’s face and body in any video, and the rules of the Internet being what they are, porn was the first adopter of this by mapping celebs faces onto porn stars. Even though Twitter and Pornhub have put a ban on these videos a solution to figure out if it’s a DeepFake or not is still been sought out. Outside of its uses in porn these videos could be used to fake other types of videos, say by making it look like a video of a high political figure saying falsities, as reported by the University of Washington last summer.  

Creating a platform that links the artist to their public

The internet is full of  platforms for creatives to distribute their content. But the majority of these are just middlemen between the public and the artists audience, and after producers, or labels or agents take their cut, if the platform takes another cut – there’s nothing much left to the artists. A more informal and less taxing platform, in the style of Bandcamp, which would look at the financing of creatives as well as the sum of their output would be a fresh offering according to Y Combinator.  

Speech recognition applications

39 million Americans possess a device with speech recognition software, such as Alexa or Google Home, reports TechCrunch. Y Combinator however thinks that these devices miss some functionality that would make them truly engaging and useful. What they seem to lack is true operability; they are still quite clunky. This where startups such as Josh.ai and Viv come in – however the accelerator thinks that there could be room for other players in this market.