gaming

Video Games

If the image that comes to mind when someone mentions video games is a teenage boy sitting in their parent’s darkened basement playing Mario Kart, surrounded by discarded Mountain Dew cans and Doritos bags, then it is time to discard this outdated stereotype.

Whether or not you yourself enjoy playing video games in your leisure time, gaming has evolved considerably and expanded well beyond its niche origins to sit squarely in the entertainment and cultural mainstream. Fortnite, you may recall, became a global cultural phenomenon following its 2017 release, with everyone from World Cup soccer players to Michelle Obama getting in on the dances popularized by the game.

The demographics of gaming are rapidly evolving with this expansion into the cultural mainstream. In a recent study by AARP, the percentage of adults age 50-59 who play video games at least once a month increased from 38% in 2016 to 44% in 2019, with women more likely than men to regularly play.

Gaming’s explosion in popularity is due, at least in part, to transformative changes in the video game industry over the past decade.

Ten years ago, if you wanted to play the latest game, you would go to a local store (GameStop, for instance), buy the game for around $60, and take the discs home to install/play. These days, mobile gaming (primarily on smartphones) accounts for the largest share of total gaming revenue worldwide, and popular games are often free to download and play. Developers monetize these free games by offering players in-game purchases.

Another relatively recent development is the rise of subscription gaming, which offers players access to a multitude of games for a monthly subscription fee. Similar to the “streaming wars” between Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc., developers are scrambling to build competitive subscription services as they work to attract larger shares of the growing market.

For those interested in the investment potential of this dynamic market, there are a few important points to understand.

What are video games circa 2020?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a video game as “a game in which the player controls moving pictures on a television screen by pressing buttons or moving a short handle.”

Video games have been around in one form or another for decades, beginning with arcade gaming in the 1970s and transitioning to home gaming in the late 70s and early 80s with popular titles such as Space Invaders, Frogger, and PacMan.

Gaming today largely falls into three distinct categories: console gaming, personal computer (PC) gaming, and mobile gaming. Console gaming happens on devices that are built exclusively to play video games (think PlayStation, Xbox, etc.), while PC gaming happens on high-performance personal computers, and mobile gaming, as the name implies, happens on your mobile device (such as your smartphone or tablet).

Until relatively recently, console and PC gaming were the dominant forces in the video game industry, but the recent explosion of smartphone use and internet connectivity globally has dramatically reshaped the industry.

According to market research firm Newzoo, mobile gaming is currently the fastest-growing segment in the video game industry, and revenues from mobile gaming account for 46% of the total gaming market in 2019. This isn’t to say that dedicated gamers are ditching their consoles and PCs in favor of games on their smartphones; rather, the market is expanding as more people gain access to free or inexpensive games through their mobile devices.

This expansion and diversification of the gaming ecosystem have given rise to novel revenue streams; most notably, live streaming and esports.

Live streaming involves gamers broadcasting themselves playing video games live on the internet. The practice has become wildly popular, as evidenced by Amazon’s 2014 acquisition of the streaming startup Twitch for $1 billion.

Esports, meanwhile, refers to competitive, organized video gaming. You may recall the story about the 16-year-old who went home with $3 million after winning the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.

Global revenues from the burgeoning esports market exceeded $1 billion in 2019, an increase of 26.7% over 2018 revenues. The emergence of live streaming and esports has fueled greater interest in gaming while offering outside investors a new way to reach this diverse group of consumers.

Why invest in video games?

According to Newzoo’s 2019 Global Games Market Report, there are more than 2.5 billion people globally who play video games, and global revenue from gaming reached $148.8 billion in 2019. The U.S. market alone generated about $35.5 billion in 2019.

As a point of comparison, the 2019 global box office for films reached a record $42.5 billion, and the U.S. box office finished with $11.4 billion. This means that in 2019, people spent more than three times as much on video games as they did on seeing movies.

This remarkable performance comes amid a changing revenue landscape in which console and PC gaming account for less and less consumer spending.

Mobile gaming comprised about 46% ($68.2 billion) of overall market revenue in 2019 – an increase of 9.7% over 2018 revenues. Though smaller than mobile, console gaming continues to see healthy growth, occupying 30% of the market ($45.3 billion) with an increase of 7.3% from 2018.

Newzoo forecasts that video game revenues will grow to $196 billion by 2022 at an annual growth rate of 9%. Mobile gaming will continue to grow over the next several years, increasing from 46% of the total market in 2019 to a forecasted 49% by 2020 ($68.2 billion to $95.4 billion).

Mobile gaming’s expansion in the market may even be accelerated by outside factors, including the rollout of 5G networks (faster connectivity means better gameplay in more places) and further advancement of augmented/virtual reality (think Pokémon GO).

The video game market offers a unique investment opportunity because the industry is projected to continue its extraordinary performance in the coming years, and the various segments offer a wide variety of options when it comes to risk vs. return.

How to invest in video games

However, despite their popularity and long-standing growth, investing directly in the video gaming sector can be challenging. There are hundreds of different companies working on individual gaming properties, and the rise of mobile gaming has introduced new players to the sector, such as mobile providers and hardware manufacturers. However, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from the growth of video games as a whole.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


climate change

Climate Change

Once a year, the CEO and Chairman of BlockRock, Larry Fink, sends a letter to the CEOs of the world’s largest and most influential companies. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with over $7 trillion in assets, so the annual letter always attracts a great deal of attention.

In the letter, sent on January 14, 2020, Mr. Fink argued that climate change is driving a “fundamental reshaping of finance,” and that “In the discussions BlackRock has with clients around the world, more and more of them are looking to reallocate their capital into sustainable strategies. If ten percent of global investors do so – or even five percent – we will witness massive capital shifts. And this dynamic will accelerate as the next generation takes the helm of government and business.” 

For BlackRock to announce that it is placing sustainability at the center of its investment approach, and to argue that investors and businesses would be wise to follow suit, it is nothing less than a seismic shift with enormous potential implications. This isn’t some small company announcing that it’s placing a renewed focus on sustainability; BlackRock is a financial colossus, and when they say that they are rethinking their investment strategies because of climate change, investors around the world should sit up and pay attention.

[The world needs to double food production by 2050. Here’s how investing in Precision Agriculture can make that happen.]

It should go without saying at this point that climate change poses a singular threat to mankind and the Earth’s biodiversity. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report, which annually identifies the most pressing global challenges, ranked “climate action failure” as the top global risk in terms of overall impact, and, for the first time in the report’s existence, the top five risks in terms of likelihood are all climate-related. 

There is growing public pressure on governments and businesses to do more to address the threats, and an increasing number of Americans rank it as a top policy priority for the Federal Government.

Climate change is a problem that is so large and complex that it simply cannot be tackled by one group acting alone; as such, governments and businesses need to work together on the transition to renewable energy. As the BlackRock letter makes perfectly clear, the private sector can no longer afford to ignore climate change. 

There are promising signs that this message is finally sinking in, as evidenced by recent announcements from several powerful companies detailing bold new climate action plans. Amazon, for instance, recently launched a new initiative called The Climate Pledge, which promises that the company will transition completely to renewable energy by 2030, order 100,000 electric delivery trucks, and invest $100 million in reforestation projects around the world. 

In addition to this initiative, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently announced that he was committing $10 billion of his own money combat climate change. 

Not to be outdone, Microsoft made headlines recently with its own bold pledge, announcing that it would work to become carbon negative by 2050, in that it would “remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975.” Microsoft simultaneously announced that it was investing $1 billion in a “Climate Innovation Fund.”

These recent announcements, coupled with the ground-shaking BlackRock letter, make it clear that the risks posed by climate change are beginning to disrupt traditional investment practices. For the savvy investor who understands the magnitude of the changes that are beginning to occur, there is tremendous opportunity in combating climate change.

For those interested in the investment potential of this critical issue, there are a few important points to understand.

What is climate change?

The United Nations explains the problem of climate change thus: “Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years.”

As greenhouse gasses concentrate in the atmosphere, more of the sun’s heat is prevented from radiating out into space, which slowly drives global temperatures up and creates a whole host of serious problems. According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, “the global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and over twice that rate (+0.18°C / +0.32°F) since 1981.” 2019, the year that saw the devastating Australian wildfires and destructive Atlantic hurricanes, was the second-hottest year on record since record keeping began in 1880.

Efforts to bring together a solid, international coalition committed to tackling climate change have proved difficult thus far, with meetings such as the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit concluding without making much in the way of significant progress. 

However, millions of young people in cities around the globe walked out of school on Friday, September 20, 2019, to express their anger at climate inaction and demand substantive, swift change. These young people are energized, politically active, and highly motivated – they represent the groundswell that will richly reward those who turn away from fossil fuels and toward innovative, renewables. 

Why invest in climate change?

Technological innovation is key to fighting climate change. 

No matter how much we legislate, protest, and conserve, we need technology to help get us out of this mess. Thankfully, humans are nothing if not resourceful, and our desire to keep the planet safe and healthy for future generations means that the market for innovative, clean technology is going to continue to expand. 

One challenge currently facing startups focusing on climate change is a lack of venture capital (VC) interest. For VCs, why put your money in a risky startup with moderate short-term returns when a software startup’s short-term return could be enormous? The answer to this question is rather simple: because the world is in trouble and the power of the almighty dollar can help. 

Matt Rogers, co-founder of Incite Ventures, a fund that supports mission-driven enterprises, puts it another way: “Sitting on your pile of money while the oceans are rising may not help you stay dry.” 

How to invest in climate change

However, supporting a topic as broad and all-encompassing as climate change isn’t as simple as buying a few stocks. The issue crosses industry lines, investment segments and even international borders. That’s why it can be more impactful to invest in fund that are involved in a number of different businesses working on solutions related to climate change.

A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of different ETFs and mutual funds available to investors who want to get involved in climate change technology without having to invest in dozens of different companies directly.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.] 


cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

Upon arriving for work on March 19, 2019, employees of Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro found alarming signs posted throughout the office notifying staff that the company had been hacked and to not use any network devices. Locked out of all company computers, and unable to even use the office printers, desperate employees drove to local print shops to make the signs.

What happened at Norsk Hydro in early 2019 was a significant, and increasingly-common, type of cyberattack in which hackers gain entry to a company’s secure network, encrypt important data, and hold it hostage until the company agrees to pay a ransom. Norsk Hydro decided early-on that it would not pay the ransom and would instead endeavor to retrieve the data from back-up servers. While Norsk Hydro scrambled to address the attack, no company computers or devices could be used, which meant that the 35,000 employees across 40 countries were, temporarily, reliant on pen and paper to conduct business. 

Ultimately, the attack cost Norsk Hydro an estimated $71 million.

The threat of cyberattack is becoming more sinister as life moves increasingly online. Hackers continuously probe systems for vulnerability, and individuals, businesses, and even governments are learning (sometimes the hard way) that cybersecurity needs to be taken extremely seriously. 

[Cybersecurity matters more than ever in today’s Blockchain-enabled economy. Here’s how.]

The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report, which annually identifies the most pressing global challenges, ranked cyberattacks among the top 10 risks globally in terms of overall impact. Facing this looming threat, organizations around the world are investing heavily in cybersecurity solutions. 

For instance, federal funding for the newly-created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency increased by $334 million between 2019 and 2020. In addition to building internal cybersecurity capability, businesses are under increasing pressure to comply with new data privacy laws, such as the recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. Implementing strong cybersecurity practices is increasingly seen as essential for organizations of all sizes, and businesses offering cybersecurity solutions are in high demand. 

For those interested in the investment potential of this booming market, there are a few important points to understand.

What is cybersecurity?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (often referred to as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework), cybersecurity is defined as “the process of protecting information by preventing, detecting, and responding to attacks.” 

[It’s not all virtual. Here’s how to invest in… Military & Defense]

A successful cybersecurity strategy involves multiple layers of protection integrated across an organization’s technology and workforce. This involves securing devices, the network, and cloud with advanced protection technologies that prevent outside intrusion and bolster internal security. Educating people on basic cybersecurity principles is equally as important as implementing advanced security tools; even the best security systems can fail if people are careless or unaware of potential threats. 

Organizations that implement a successful cybersecurity strategy often do so with the help of a cybersecurity framework, which helps inform decision-making when it comes to thinking critically about cybersecurity risks within an organization. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is one such framework, and it is increasingly implemented by private companies in the U.S. as cybersecurity concerns increase.

Still, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated as technology becomes increasingly interconnected, and organizations of all shapes and sizes are scrambling to update their cybersecurity strategies. Unfortunately, hackers adapt, and the threats evolve just as fast as the defenses. There is a growing gap between the need for cybersecurity solutions and the ability for organizations to produce those solutions in-house. 

Increasingly, organizations are looking to third-party security providers to help cope with complex, evolving threats. Even a robust, well-trained staff of IT professionals may not be sufficient to protect an organization from these threats. As such, there is growing interest in companies like Splunk, which specializes in analytics-driven security solutions. Splunk is valued at more than $25 billion, and the company’s total revenues increased 36% over the past year. 

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that it is buying Splunk software as part of a 10-year, $820 million purchase agreement.

Why invest in cybersecurity? 

The global cybersecurity market is growing rapidly. According to market research by Mordor Intelligence, the global cybersecurity market was worth about $161 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to about $363 billion by 2025 at an annual growth rate of 14.5%. 

However, market research by International Data Corporation (IDC) paints a more conservative picture, valuing the 2019 cybersecurity market at $106 billion and growing at an annual rate of 9.4% to $151 billion by 2023. 

Regardless, the trend is undeniable: cybersecurity is a healthy and growing market. 

All the fundamentals are solid, and powerful global trends are pushing cybersecurity toward the forefront of all conversations surrounding technology for years to come (data privacy issues, the internet of things and increased connectivity, grid vulnerabilities, etc.). 

Mordor’s research notes that the cybersecurity market is somewhat fragmented, meaning that it is highly competitive and not completely dominated by a few powerful companies. For potential investors, this diverse market offers real opportunities for sustained and potentially rapid growth. 

Venture capital (VC) funding in cybersecurity companies has been increasing rapidly over the past several years. According to KPMG, VC funding of cybersecurity companies in 2018 reached a record $6.4 billion, and 2019 funding numbers are expected to exceed that figure. Given that technological innovation and adoption are accelerating globally, and that cyberattacks are occurring more frequently and with greater impact, investment in cybersecurity solutions will likely continue to grow for the foreseeable future. 

For the savvy investor with an eye on the future of technology, the cybersecurity market offers excellent growth potential. 

How to invest in cybersecurity

However, as an emerging and highly-technical industry, jumping right into cybersecurity by investing directly in one of the field’s leading firms can bring with it undo risk for investors. As with any tech investment, it’s important to understand the products and services that these companies are offering their customers, and how those offerings truly set them apart from the competition, in order to accurately gauge the potential growth as well as the potential risk in any cybersecurity investment.

A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of mutual funds and ETFs available that offer exposure to the growing field of cybersecurity requiring investors to get a PhD in technology first. 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.] 


internet of things iot

Internet of Things

If you were among the lucky attendees to the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, you likely would have noticed that “connectivity” was one of the show’s most prominently featured trends

CES bills itself as the “world’s largest and most influential tech event,” and many companies at the show chose to display “smart” products that feature internet connectivity as a means by which the product becomes more useful to the consumer. For instance, Weber, the company famous for its round, charcoal kettle grills, featured its new “Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub,” which promises to serve as a kind of “step-by-step grilling assistant that sends notifications directly to your smart phone on everything from a food readiness countdown, to when it’s time to flip and serve.” 

Kohler, the company primarily known for its plumbing fixtures, featured its new voice-controlled “Moxie” showerhead/wireless speaker, which “lets you stream your favorite music, news or talk radio right in the shower with you.” 

Smart devices like these are becoming increasingly popular as daily life becomes more connected to and shaped by the internet. The interconnection of our devices via the internet is often referred to as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT for short.

An entrepreneur named Kevin Aston first coined the term “Internet of Things” back in 1999 in an attempt to describe the connection between physical objects and the internet. At the time, Aston was working on linking Procter & Gamble’s supply chain to the internet through RFID tags. 

These days, IoT encompasses the vast, interconnected ecosystem of devices, sensors, computers, and networks that communicate with each other and with us. There are more than 20 billion devices with internet connectivity in use today, and there is enormous value in the data that these devices generate. 

This value extends well beyond the realm of consumer electronics. For instance, IoT is considered the driving force behind Industry 4.0, a term described by Deloitte as the “new industrial revolution—one that marries advanced manufacturing techniques with the Internet of Things to create manufacturing systems that are not only interconnected, but communicate, analyze, and use information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.”

For those interested in the investment potential of this innovative technology, there are a few important points to understand.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? 

According to research and advisory firm, Gartner, IoT is the “network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.” The overarching purpose of IoT is for physical objects to sense and report information in real-time so that a process can be made more efficient, convenient, or safe.

The practical applications of IoT are vast, and faster, more affordable technology is driving innovation across very different industries. 

Let’s start with the problem of traffic safety. The City of San Jose, California, is currently integrating IoT solutions in order to make intersections safer for pedestrians. For instance, IoT sensors communicate with traffic signals when someone crossing an intersection may require a bit more time before the signal turns green. 

Another problem IoT is helping to address is that of food waste. According to the UN, roughly one-third of the world’s food production is lost or wasted every year. The Danish supply company, Globe Tracker, is working to fix that by offering IoT solutions that keep a close eye on food as it moves around the world in shipping containers. Globe Tracker’s sensors continuously record and transmit data on the container’s location, temperature, humidity, etc. 

This kind of data is highly valuable in all supply chains, but it is especially valuable in perishable food supply chains. Innovators in business and government are going to increasingly adopt IoT solutions to address the complex problems of the 21st century, and providers of such solutions will increasingly innovate and drive IoT technology forward.

Why Invest in the Internet of Things (IoT)?

By all accounts, the IoT market is thriving, and there is good reason to think that even greater growth may be on the horizon.

According to a 2019 report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), global IoT spending in 2019 was forecast to reach $745 billion, a 15.4% increase over the $646 billion spent in 2018. IDC also projected that global IoT spending would surpass $1 trillion in 2022, with manufacturing, consumer, transportation, and utility industries accounting for a significant portion of the spending increase. 

Adoption of IoT is happening worldwide and across industries at a rapid pace. Mordor Intelligence projects that the compound annual growth rate of the IoT market is 21% between 2020 and 2025. Internet-connected devices are also getting cheaper to produce and are becoming more widely available. McKinsey & Company projects that the number of internet-connected devices will increase to 43 billion by 2023, a nearly 300% increase from 2018 numbers. 

Underlying all these positive numbers is an enormous potential boost that is somewhat difficult to quantify: 5G. Mobile carriers are currently in the process of deploying 5G (the fifth-generation wireless network) across the U.S. and around the globe. 5G provides considerably faster mobile connections and will, according to Qualcomm, “seamlessly connect a massive number of embedded sensors in virtually everything through the ability to scale down in data rates, power and mobility to provide extremely lean/low-cost solutions.” 

The 5G rollout will take time, and as with current data coverage, not every location will get lightning-fast speed. Those locations that do benefit, however, are in for a potentially transformative period of IoT innovation.

How to Invest in the Internet of Things (IoT)

Despite all of this growth and potential, the Internet of Things remains a developing, high-volatility sector, meaning that it can make for a risky investment when bought directly. Rather, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from IoT innovation via mutual funds and ETFs that cover this fast-growing sector.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]  


cancer treatment

Cancer Treatment

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s awful for the hundreds of thousands of patients and their families impacted by it. 

But, there is hope. 

A new 2020 American Cancer Society report shows the largest single-year drop, 2.2%, in the rate of people dying from cancer ever recorded in 2017, the most recent year tracked.  

Even more promising, the report indicates that the rate of people dying from cancer has dropped every year for 26 straight years. 

How did we get here? More effective early detection, treatment advances, and lifestyle changes, for starters. But there is a lot more innovation that’s happening in modern cancer care that’s improving the odds for cancer patients everywhere. These new technologies include: 

[The link between food and health is strong than ever. Learn more about investing in Organic Agriculture.]

Artificial Intelligence for Cancer Care

The modern healthcare system is today based on electronic health data. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology, we are finally able to more efficiently analyze and categorize that data, allowing researchers to identify disease and treatment trends that are leading to a better understanding of the elements that affect cancer growth or decline. Moreover, researchers and clinicians alike are now able to more quickly access and compare information about patients with similar cancers.  

The startup company, Paige (Pathology AI Guidance Engine), for example, applies AI-based methods to better map the pathology of cancer. Paige raised $45 million in funding in late 2019. 

The Cancer Genomics Cloud (CGC), which houses a number of cancer data sets, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), makes a huge amount of data available to researchers quickly and securely.

These technological efforts are leading both to increasingly personalized cancer care and new treatment options in the fight for a cure. 

Genomics Testing for Better Cancer Treatment

Liquid biopsies investigate “any type of specimen other than tissue — including blood, urine, and cerebral spinal fluid — that can be interrogated regarding the functionality of a cancer tumor.” An important tool in early detection, liquid biopsies can detect cancer before it becomes visible or shows symptoms. And, in the case of blood or urine specimens, the biopsies are non-invasive.

Guardant Health, a provider of liquid biopsies, saw its stock grow 78% in 2019. And that’s just the beginning. The market for liquid biopsies is projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2026, but could grow to as much as a $100 billion market by some estimates. 

Immunotherapy and Cancer

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of the immune system to help patients fight a wide range of diseases, including cancer. In the spring of 2018, there were 753 cell-based therapies in development according to the Cancer Research Institute. 

And, some are working magic for patients. Keytruda, approved to treat a range of cancers, brought in approximately $11.1 billion in sales for the drug giant, Merck

Improving Patient Access 

Beyond housing mass data for researchers and clinicians, the internet is giving cancer patients themselves a place to connect with vetted expert information and with other patients. 

SurvivorNet is a community of cancer patients and survivors, as well as a forum for expert information. Its goal is to increase access to information about treatment options. SurvivorNet recently raised $10M in a Series B funding round. 

Why Invest in Cancer Treatment?

When it comes to cancer, traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation are still commonly used and are generally effective. But, they are also aggressive and indiscriminate, and often come with debilitating side effects (although medical cannabis has been shown to help ease these symptoms). 

As medicine becomes more personal, so too are cancer treatments, with doctors and researchers moving towards increasingly patient-centric therapies.

Why now? Electronic health records, genetic testing, big data analytics, and supercomputing are the tools of precision care, and now, doctors and scientists have them. The results are both better targeted therapies available to patients sooner after diagnosis and cancer treatment options that are both in development and widely available multiplying fast. 

This leaves investors with lots of options. Not only are there new therapies and drugs on the market, there are new testing technologies, AI companies, and online platforms that have the potential to be the next big thing. 

How to Invest in the Future of Cancer Care

Cancer is something that we all want to beat. And, these days, our chances of actually accomplishing that goal are better than ever.

As new technologies become commercialized, millions will be diagnosed earlier and successfully connected with their cures. It won’t happen overnight, though. It will happen one breakthrough at a time.

Picking those winners ahead of time is difficult, however, and typically calls for advanced medical research knowledge and understanding that most investors simply don’t have. But, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from cancer care innovation as a whole via mutual funds and ETFs.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


Organic agriculture

Organic Agriculture

The next time you are out on a walk and notice a humble honey bee buzzing from flower to flower, take a moment to stop and appreciate the importance of the busy little insect. Because its work is at the heart of all organic agriculture.

According to the FDA, “About one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds, to name just a few.” Pollination is essential to agriculture; without it, many plants cannot produce seeds and fruit, and our dinner plates would look very sparse indeed. 

Unfortunately, honey bees are in trouble. 

[The world needs to double food production by 2050. Here’s how investing in Precision Agriculture can make that happen.]

Beekeepers in the U.S. have been sounding the alarm for years, reporting sharp declines in honey bee colonies for over a decade, and the winter of 2018/2019 saw the biggest decline on record. This sharp decline in honey bee colonies is thought to be caused by several factors, including shrinking crop diversity, habitat loss, insecticides, and parasites. In particular, a widely used group of insecticides called neonicotinoids are coming under increased scrutiny as mounting research demonstrates the toxicity of the chemicals to honey bee populations. 

Farmers apply neonicotinoids to their fields in an effort to prevent pests such as aphids, but end up unintentionally damaging honey bee colonies, which in turn damages crop yields and the surrounding ecosystem as a whole.

Declining honey bee populations in the U.S. are symptomatic of an ongoing conflict in modern agriculture that pits short term profitability against long term sustainability. Spraying a field with herbicides may kill weeds one year, but the weeds that sprout the following year will be herbicide-resistant, and the farmer will have to invest in new and increasingly complex chemical concoctions to stay on top of the evolving weeds. 

In response to the industrialization of modern agriculture, a thriving movement has emerged that emphasizes quality over quantity. Organic agriculture is a process of producing food that focuses on environmental sustainability. The Rodale Institute, a leading organic agriculture nonprofit, considers organic agriculture to be a “vision for working and living in harmony with nature. The result is healthy soil, which grows healthy plants, which make for healthy people. By abstaining from synthetic inputs and encouraging natural systems, organic farmers help create a better future for people, animals, and the environment.”

For those interested in the investment potential of this growing market, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Organic Agriculture?

In the context of the U.S., “organic” is a labeling term that food producers affix to products to indicate that their products comply with the organic standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA’s organic standards are lengthy and cover many agricultural processes, including crop production, livestock/poultry production, and product handling/labeling. (Learn More: Why logistics matter in agriculture.)

Before a food producer can apply an organic label to their product, USDA inspectors must first certify that the producer is in compliance with the relevant organic standards. In general, the USDA’s organic standards require that food producers use natural processes to produce food. 

With crop production, for instance, one of the organic standards is that the land cannot have had synthetic synthetic fertilizers or weed killers applied to it for at least three years before harvesting an organic crop. The organic standards also mandate that organic livestock and poultry have access to the outdoors year-round, and may only be temporarily confined due to poor weather or concerns over the animal’s health.

Making the transition to organic or going organic from the get-go can be a difficult, expensive endeavor for food producers. It is undeniably cheaper to produce food using synthetic chemicals and industrial processes. 

Environmental benefits aside (which are substantial, if difficult to value monetarily), going organic offers food producers access to a rapidly growing market. Young adults are increasingly focused on food quality when they shop, with a recent YouGov study noting that 68% of millennials surveyed responded that they are willing to pay more for higher quality products. 

For a young consumer with health and environmental concerns on their mind, the choice between an organic tomato costing $2.25 and a non-organic tomato costing $1.50 may not be as obvious as one would assume. In this space, there is significant opportunity.

Why Invest in Organics?

Consumer demand for organic food is booming in the U.S., but domestic supply has not kept pace. The development of precision agriculture has helped, but the shortcoming largely boils down to the fact that producing organic food is more difficult and expensive than producing food via conventional agriculture. 

In an effort to facilitate the transition to organic from conventional while satisfying their customers’ growing demand for organic food, large food companies are increasingly partnering with small producers. Established brands like Annie’s (owned by General Mills) are partnering directly with domestic farmers, eliminating many of the hurdles new organic producers face in bringing their products to market. 

With a consumer base willing to pay more for products they value, and with the support of established companies that recognize organic’s potential, the organic agriculture market is primed for substantial growth and expansion in the coming years.

According to research from the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic products in the U.S. reached $52.5 billion in 2018, up 6.3% from 2017. Sales of organic foods accounted for $47.9 billion in 2018, an increase of 5.9% over 2017 food sales. This increase in organic food sales far exceeded the 2.3% growth seen in non-organic food sales during the same period. 

Figures from 2019 look equally healthy, with Category Partners and Organic Produce Network reporting that sales of organic fruits and vegetables increased by 5.1% between 2018 and 2019, while sales of conventional fruits and vegetables increased by about 1.9%.

These trends demonstrate that consumer interest in organic products is strong. Young consumers are more concerned about their health and the health of the environment than any preceding generation, and these consumers are on the cusp of becoming the most dominant group with respect to consumer spending. 

Organic agriculture represents a unique opportunity in the investment landscape because it offers the potential to serve an undersupplied but growing market with products that are increasingly seen as ethically and environmentally superior to similar products available at lower prices.

How to Invest in Organics

But, for investors, organic agriculture as a category is almost too broad. It’s a trend that impacts almost every aspect of the food and ag industry, but it’s something that very few companies are dedicated entirely to. Every company in the space has an organics program, making it very difficult for investors to get in on this trend directly without investing in a very broad group of companies.

However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the organics market can be a good way for investors to access this growing segment of agriculture without having to invest in many companies directly. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in organic agriculture.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


Virtual Reality

Our addiction to screens isn’t anticipated to change anytime soon, but with the growth of virtual reality, how we relate to our screens is sure to.

The proof? Headset sales are booming. Over the holiday season, Facebook’s popular Oculus Quest virtual reality headset sold out and is now on a two-month back-order.

In other words, when it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the technology is ready and so are the users.

So, what exactly is virtual reality? 

Virtual reality is a type of technology that “shuts out the physical world,” creating a completely immersive experience in digitally created “real world” or imagined environments. 

[Support the data that’s making Virtual Reality possible. Here’s what investors need to know about Big Data]

This is slightly different from augmented reality, which adds digital elements to our real-life view. Think of Pokémon Go, for example, which digitally plants Pokémon characters around real-life cities and towns for players to physically go and find. That’s augmented reality.

What Can Virtual Reality Do?

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are changing the ways that almost all industries deliver goods and services to consumers.

First, and maybe first to come to mind for most people, is virtual reality’s place in the gaming world. The video gaming industry is anticipated to grow to as large as a $300 billion industry by 2025. Virtual reality will no doubt help to stimulate that growth, transforming the gaming world by dramatically changing the dynamics of how players relate to their games.

After all, games are no longer built like the old Nintendo or Atari platforms. New games allow players to be real participants in the action, and virtual reality is just the next step in this direction.

For instance, the much anticipated virtual reality game, Half Life: Alyx, is set to release a sequel more than a decade after its first iteration. Other highly anticipated virtual reality video game releases include The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, The Walking Dead Onslaught, and Iron Man. These games have a ready market and mountains of consumers that have or have yet to order their headsets.

Virtual reality and gaming, yes. But what about virtual reality and spas? Yes, it’s a thing. 

The Four Seasons Resort in Oahu is now offering the world’s first multisensory virtual reality and wellness experience in what it calls the Vessel. And, it’s not alone. Spas across the U.S. now offer similar experiences in a device known as the Somodome, a self-contained meditation pod.

Virtual reality is challenging companies to reimagine how they engage consumers of all kinds. This includes retail, even though online shopping seems to be doing just fine without it. Consider virtual reality shopping. Soon you may be sipping coffee and exploring the various kitchen options from the comfort of your couch thanks to Ikea’s Virtual Reality Showroom.

Beyond consumer goods and services, virtual reality has huge potential to improve training for higher education and corporate entities alike. Walmart is on board, training employees with virtual reality programs that offer new hires the opportunity to experience specific customer situations. The military is also using virtual reality for training purposes, and even the Denver Broncos football team is using virtual reality as a tool for training new and injured players (quarterbacks specifically).

The technology also has the potential to be used for highly sophisticated simulations in the healthcare field. Emmanuel Hospice, a non-profit hospice company, offers patients the ability to leave their rooms with virtual reality-based therapy. Using the technology, one patient went on a virtual trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, and another to Ireland.

The possibilities are endless and virtual reality technology is everywhere. 

Why Invest in Virtual Reality

With all of these different applications, it should come as no surprise that the VR industry is set to grow rapidly. The global virtual reality market is anticipated to reach $120.5 billion by 2026, a dramatic increase from $7.3 billion in 2018. 

And, the market is ripe for investment. As the technology advances, virtual reality is expected to play an increasing role in training and education, entertainment, retail, healthcare, and more.

Not only is the technology required for virtual reality improving, but the costs associated with it are decreasing. Quality virtual reality experiences require both a headset and a powerful graphics card. These two elements have big-name companies like Sony, Samsung, and Facebook, as well as lesser-known companies, competing for market share in each. As virtual reality becomes increasingly mainstream, these companies are poised to benefit. 

Beyond these two primary technology elements, virtual reality is also primed to create new investment opportunities in the industries that adopt it. Whether it’s the next big game, the next big hospital training platform, or something we have yet to imagine, industry-specific virtual reality solutions are sure to create a buzz and further stimulate consumer adoption.

When it comes to virtual reality, opportunity abounds. You can invest in the technology itself, or the products, services, and solutions that it delivers. 

How to Invest in Virtual Reality

Of course, virtual and augmented reality are high-growth, high-volatility sectors, meaning that they can make for risky investments when bought directly. Rather, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from virtual reality innovation via mutual funds and ETFs that cover this fast-growing sector.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.] 


bitcoin

Bitcoin

Globalization is driving the economies of the world toward greater and more profound integration. People across the globe are now connected through vast, complex supply chains that span oceans and continents. 

From the comfort of your home in the U.S., you can log on to Etsy and order a beautiful, handmade blanket from Turkey that will arrive at your door in a few weeks. You do not need to travel to Turkey to purchase the blanket, and the Turkish vendor is happy that their products are available to a global market. 

The growth of these kinds of international peer-to-peer transactions is hindered by the fact that most countries each have a distinct currency that is government-controlled and that generally cannot be spent elsewhere. The process of transferring money between people in different countries can be quite complex as the funds need to pass through intermediary banks along the way. This complexity takes time and adds a cost to the transfer in the form of fees. 

A little over a decade ago, an ingenious new digital currency known as Bitcoin was launched that sought to address these and other global currency problems.

An unknown individual (or group of individuals) going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin (and the underlying blockchain technology) and shared the idea in a groundbreaking 2008 paper entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The introduction of this paper states that: “Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments. While the system works well enough for most transactions, it still suffers from the inherent weaknesses of the trust based model.” 

Bitcoin relies on what Nakamoto refers to as “cryptographic proof” (hence, cryptocurrency) instead of trust. This proof comes in the form of Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger, which unlike the ledger of a traditional bank, is open to and shared amongst users in the Bitcoin network. 

As a complete reimagination of the traditional currency and banking system, the transformative potential of Bitcoin is enormous. A decentralized digital currency that is free from government control offers users an entirely new way to move and make money.

For those interested in the investment potential of this innovative new currency, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency. It is not backed a government or issued by a central bank, and its value relative to local currency moves with the forces of supply and demand.

As of early 2020, there are roughly 18 million Bitcoins in “circulation,” with another 3 million yet to be added. New Bitcoins enter circulation by a process known as “mining.” People using powerful computers (“miners”) compete with each other to solve complex mathematical problems in a race to verify a new set of Bitcoin transactions. The first miner to do this correctly is rewarded with a certain number of Bitcoins.

Mining is a costly, energy-intensive endeavor, but it is not the only way to acquire Bitcoins – most people simply buy them. The process is relatively straightforward. Start by downloading a digital wallet, which is a kind of program that stores your Bitcoins and payment information. Next, simply go to the Bitcoin website (or an exchange where Bitcoin are traded), link your digital wallet, and select how much Bitcoin you would like to purchase. Once your payment goes through and after the transaction is verified by miners, you will be the proud owner of some quantity of shiny new Bitcoin.

As a decentralized alternative to the traditional banking system, Bitcoin can be bought and sold anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. 

This is an important point because traditional banking does not adequately function in many places across the world. Take Venezuela, for instance, where hyperinflation over the past few years has led to a rampant devaluation of the nation’s currency, causing food to become extremely expensive and widespread hunger to run rampant. Venezuela’s leaders staunchly refused humanitarian aid from outside countries and slapped heavy fines on incoming money transfers. 

Desperate citizens turned instead to Bitcoin for help. Bypassing the incompetent Venezuelan government entirely, people from around the world sent Bitcoins directly to Venezuelan families in need.

Why Invest in Bitcoin?

As an investment, Bitcoin is undeniably in the high-risk, high reward category. Bitcoin prices have fluctuated wildly over the past several years. A single Bitcoin cost about $1,000 at the beginning of 2017, and by December 17, 2017, Bitcoin hit a peak price of about $20,000. You may recall that there was something of a Bitcoin “frenzy” during this price runup. Alas, the party was not to last, and prices fell sharply throughout 2018 before rebounding moderately in 2019 to a respectable $7,200 by New Years Day 2020.

Volatility aside, it is hard to deny Bitcoin’s outstanding performance when looking at the entire price history. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, Bitcoin posted gains of more than 9,000,000% since July 2010. As a point of comparison, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones each roughly tripled during the same period. 

Past performance is, of course, no guarantee of future results, and radical changes are underway in the cryptocurrency market that will create heavier competition for Bitcoin.

Facebook is planning to launch a digital currency called Libra, and countries such as China, Russia, and Iran are looking to create their own forms of cryptocurrency to circumvent U.S. sanctions. 

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and has been around long enough to work through many of the kinks that have arisen. Interest in Bitcoin is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, and it will continue to be a potentially highly-lucrative, if risky, investment option for adventurous investors. 

How to Invest in Bitcoin

There’s no arguing the investment potential of Bitcoin and its related technologies. But the fact remains, with that high upside comes the risk of big downsides as well, and Bitcoin prices have been on something of a roller coaster over the last two years. 

However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to the Bitcoin market and its underlying technologies can be a way to temper some of this volatility. Although there is still no pure cryptocurrency ETF available, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in the technology without buying Bitcoin directly.


blockchain

Blockchain

It seems as though every time we turn on the news there are new stories about enormous data breaches. 

There was the massive 2013 Yahoo breach in which all 3 billion user accounts were compromised, and then there was the 2017 Equifax breach that exposed the personal information of 147 million people. 

Data breaches are becoming more widespread and impactful, with 2019 set to be the worst year on record. It is perhaps not surprising that, according to the Pew Research Center, 70% of Americans feel that their personal information is less secure than it was just five years ago. Businesses and governments are tasked with securely storing mountains of complex and highly-personal data, and they are beginning to turn to a novel technology known as “blockchain” to help.

[With new technology comes new risks. Here’s what you need to know about cybersecurity]

Blockchain is a technology solution that solves some of the problems associated with data storage and security. When an organization is solely responsible for maintaining its database, valuable information may be lost in the event of a breach or disaster. A freak hurricane could damage vital data centers (as happened in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy), or an adept hacker could detect a vulnerability in a government’s website and hold critical data hostage (as happened in 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland). With blockchain, data is securely shared across a distributed network in which all parties have access. The nature of the technology is such that damage to one part of the network does not compromise the rest. For this reason, among many others, businesses and governments are turning their attention – and investments – to blockchain.

For those interested in the investment potential of this innovative technology, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Blockchain?

According to the software company SAP, blockchain is most simply defined as a “reliable, difficult-to-hack record of transactions – and of who owns what. Blockchain is based on distributed ledger technology, which securely records information across a peer-to-peer network.” 

The “block” in blockchain describes the data that is entered into the network, while the “chain” in blockchain refers to the chronological sequence in which blocks are entered. Data is approved for entry via consensus of other network participants, and once entered it cannot be changed. In this way, there is a complete, sequential, and verifiable recordkeeping of the network’s data that is available to all participants.

At first glance, this may not seem like a revolutionary concept, but it is important to note that the decentralized nature of blockchain is highly novel and has far-reaching applications. 

An unknown person (or persons) going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto invented the blockchain concept and shared it with the public in a groundbreaking 2008 paper about a proposed digital currency system. That currency system became known as Bitcoin, and the spread of blockchain technology gave rise to a vast ecosystem of other cryptocurrencies. 

While most people only associate blockchain with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, the technology has much broader applications across a variety of industries. For instance, logistics firms are turning to blockchain technology to modernize their supply chains. Danish shipping company Maersk recently launched a blockchain-powered logistics platform called TradeLens, which it says will provide improved visibility into the movement of shipments around the world. 

Healthcare is another sector that stands to benefit tremendously from the adoption of blockchain technology. As any adult in the U.S. can attest, healthcare records are notoriously scattered from provider to provider. Implementing blockchain technology has the potential to make critical health data more accessible and secure while eliminating barriers that currently stifle communication between doctors, patients, and insurers. 

Data is at the core of any modern organization, and it seems likely that blockchain will be an increasingly important tool in the modernization of data management practices.

Why Invest in Blockchain?

Blockchain is an extremely valuable technology with significant investment potential. 

As noted by James Wester, Research Director at International Data Corporation (IDC): “Blockchain is maturing rapidly, and we have reached an inflection point where implementations are moving quickly beyond the pilot and proof of concept phase.” 

IDC estimates that global spending on blockchain solutions will reach nearly $2.9 billion in 2019, an increase of nearly 88% from 2018. IDC expects annual spending to climb to $12.4 billion by 2022, with a 76% annual growth rate between 2018 and 2022.

Investment in private blockchain companies is also quite robust. In the U.S., for instance, investments reached about $1.1 billion in 2019 – a healthy figure considering recent corrections in cryptocurrency markets.

Big technology companies understand blockchain’s potential and are adjusting their services accordingly. Companies such as IBM, SAP, and Oracle offer blockchain-as-a-service to help businesses create their own blockchain networks. Companies that are prepared to offer innovative blockchain solutions are well-positioned for the coming changes to the data management landscape, and startups researching blockchain solutions are likely to garner significant interest from established companies. These market dynamics are likely to create a rich environment for outside investment.

Governments around the world are also taking notice of blockchain’s enormous potential. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is investing heavily in blockchain startups because of the technology’s cybersecurity advantages in making digital systems more resilient. The Republic of Georgia recently partnered with Bitfury, a Netherlands-based blockchain technology company, to digitize and migrate the country’s land registry onto a blockchain-based network. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced that China will make blockchain a top priority in the country’s new innovation push, a move that may galvanize more investment and research in the West.

In this space where both business and government recognize blockchain’s potential, savvy investors are well-positioned to capitalize on novel applications of this innovative technology.

How to Invest in Blockchain

But, despite all of this potential and recent growth, blockchain remains a very early-stage technology. It has only existed in its current form since 2008, and the industry that has sprung up around it is even younger than that. With that youth comes volatility, which investors are seeing in the prices of pure-play blockchain stocks. However, investing in a mutual fund or ETF that offers exposure to blockchain can be a way to temper some of this volatility. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of funds available today for those investors interested in investing in blockchain technology without buying shares in the associated companies themselves.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]  


3D Printing

3D Printing

At a time in the not too distant future, a patient suffering from organ failure may not need to wait on a donor transplant list in order to acquire a new, healthy organ. If researchers at Wake Forest University continue their remarkable progress, a doctor may be able to simply “print” a new organ for the patient. This treatment may seem straight out of a science fiction movie, but it is grounded in a real manufacturing process known as 3D printing.

3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but it is only in the past decade that the technology has really taken off. Recent advancements in material science and design software have propelled the technology into the mainstream, and an increasing number of innovative companies are adopting the technology to optimize supply chains and address complex problems.

Modern 3D printers are capable of producing objects from a wide variety of materials, and they can quickly print objects that are larger and far more complex than was possible only a few years ago.

3D printing is an essential component of Industry 4.0, a term described by Deloitte as the “new industrial revolution—one that marries advanced manufacturing techniques with the Internet of Things to create manufacturing systems that are not only interconnected, but communicate, analyze, and use information to drive further intelligent action back in the physical world.” 3D printing is helping to drive this new industrial revolution by democratizing the design and manufacturing process.

As 3D printing becomes more advanced and cost-effective, the technology is gaining greater exposure and novel applications are being pioneered left and right. For instance, international nonprofit New Story, in partnership with Texas-based digital manufacturing company, ICON, are using a massive 3D printer to “print” homes for impoverished residents in rural Mexico.

[3D printing isn’t the only new technology poised to change the world. Here’s a look at the investment landscape for Virtual Reality]

Many remarkable applications are being developed in the field of regenerative medicine, such as research at the University of Arizona where shattered bones are being healed by inserting synthetic bones created using a 3D printer. The applications of 3D printing are only limited by one’s imagination, and the transformative potential of the technology is staggering.

For those interested in the investment potential of this rapidly-growing sector, there are a few important points to understand.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a manufacturing process that uses digital designs to create three-dimensional objects. 3D printing is also sometimes called additive manufacturing because the object is created layer by layer, from the bottom up, by adding successive layers of material until the object takes shape.

This stands in contrast to the more common subtractive manufacturing process, in which an object is formed by starting with a large piece of material and removing excess material in order to obtain the shape of the desired object. A laser cutting out a specific pattern on a large metal sheet is an example of a subtractive manufacturing process.

3D printing has several key advantages over subtractive manufacturing. For one, 3D printing can significantly reduce the amount of time between the design and production of a new product. A 3D printer can quickly render a functional prototype for designers and engineers to test, which saves time and money that would otherwise be spent waiting on prototypes created using more traditional manufacturing processes.

Another key advantage of 3D printing is waste reduction. In additive manufacturing, only the material that is needed to create the object is used, while subtractive manufacturing wastes a significant amount of material in the form of scrap pieces and shavings that are removed to shape the object. Even if these scrap pieces can be recycled, there is an added expense in time and money to see it through.

Another enormous advantage of 3D printing is design complexity. 3D printers can produce an object with designs so complex and intricate that it would be impossible to produce using any other manufacturing method. This is not to say that 3D printing and subtractive manufacturing are mutually exclusive. To maximize supply chain efficiency, innovative companies utilize both processes simultaneously and at different stages of the manufacturing process.

Why Invest in 3D Printing?

The 3D printing sector is starting to grow rapidly.

According to a report by Deloitte, sales from large, public, 3D printing companies will exceed $2.7 billion in 2019 and surpass $3 billion in 2020. Deloitte predicts that this segment of the 3D printing industry will grow at about 12.5 percent in both 2019 and 2020, which is more than double the growth rate from just a few years prior.

To account for current growth and projected growth, Deloitte points to several recent industry developments, including large companies entering the market and driving innovation, along with dramatic technological advancements (more 3D-printable materials, faster print speeds, and a larger build volume).

The Deloitte report further notes that: “After decades of development, 3D printing has finally reached a period of sustained growth greater than most other manufacturing technologies. As with so many other new technologies, it is important to ‘think big, start small, and scale fast.’ The next few years are likely to see 3D printing become much more widely used in all sorts of manufacturing, from robots to rocket ships. The ripple effects on industries even beyond manufacturing may be profound.”

And the rise of Big Data analytics is only accelerating this trend, opening up vast new data sets that be used to design and optimize 3D models.

With respect to the 3D printing market as a whole, Mordor Intelligence expects the market to grow to about $49 billion by 2024 (up from about $10.50 billion in 2018) at a rate of about 29.50%. Mordor notes that North America currently holds the largest share of the market and is well-positioned for exponential growth: “With these series of investments, healthcare, aerospace & defense, industrial, and consumer product applications in North America are set to boom over the upcoming years.”

This growth potential is not limited to North America. The Asia-Pacific region is largely an untapped market at this point, and it is projected to grow at the fastest rate over the next several years.

How to Invest in 3D Printing

However, given the fact that 3D printing is a relatively new industrial sector and is still growing, investing directly in the companies that are leading the way can be risky. Rather, investing in a mutual fund or ETF dedicated to 3D printing can be a good way to gain exposure to this fast-growing niche without taking on the risk of a direct investment. According to a search on Magnifi, there are a number of funds and ETFs that access 3D printing.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]