Merryn's Blog

Eight growth industries of the future to buy into now

"I want to say one word to you. Just one word," Mr McGuire told Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. "Plastics - there is a great future in plastics". It wasn't bad advice as it turns out. But if you had to give the same advice to a graduate brooding on the future today, what would you say? Barry Ritholtz thinks he has the answer - nano technology.

"I want to say one word to you. Just one word," Mr McGuire told Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. "Plastics - there is a great future in plastics".

It wasn't bad advice as it turns out. But if you had to give the same advice to a graduate brooding on the future today, what would you say? Barry Ritholtz thinks he has the answer - nano technology. He places the science of small things at the top of the list of industries that will drag the economy back to health. It's a good candidate. As we pointed out in July, nanotech is producing some remarkable industrial advances. You have silicon nanoparticles that can ferry cancer drugs to tumours. And solar-cells panels have been revolutionised by nanoparticle inks. $18.2bn was ploughed into the industry last year.

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But we have a few ideas of our own. And you don't have to wait for the recovery to profit:

1. Battery Technology - as electric vehicles go mainstream, conflict between electronic giants for raw materials will drive a mining boom. Buy: Technology metal miners.

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2. Agritech - boosting crop yields and learning how to use fertilisers and industrial biofuels properly will be crucial if we are to balance feeding everyone and not completely destroying what little arable land we have left. Buy: GM crops, water tech and farmland.

3. Genomics - decoding the genome heralds an era of consumer genetics and personalised medicine. Buy: diagnostic equipment makers.

4. Stem cells - already seeing medical breakthroughs by the week. Buy: stem cell storage.

5. Green tech - forget solar panels and wind turbines. What we really need is to control the energy that we have already. Buy: Smart grid and energy efficiency groups.

6. Cloud computing - the move to utility computing has sparked a race for data storage and bandwidth control. Buy: data centers, bandwidth monopolies and internet traffic cops.

7. Recycling - the second biggest mining boom will be above ground. Buy: E-waste.

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8. Robotics - watch as machines replace doctors. Buy into: the medical-industrial complex.

Unfortunately, none of these will matter if Barry's prediction of growth in Atmospheric Engineering - modifying Earth's biosphere to keep it hospitable in the face of global warming - comes true. If we start playing around with the earth's regulatory system, all our advances in agriculture and medicine will be for nothing.

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