Telehealth, edtech and the tech trends influencing startups in 2021

Here are some startup trends that have grown in 2020 and will continue to thrive in 2021.
23 February 2021

4 bleeding-edge tech trends influencing startups in 2021. Source: Shutterstock

  • Organizations including startups should evaluate existing and future technologies to see if they’ll be able to deliver the innovation at a scale that they’ll need to survive and thrive
  • Covid-19 has reshaped trends, as many of them are brought about or will be emphasized to a greater extent due to the health crisis that the world continues to face
  • From 5G-enabled techs to telemedicine, digital currency, and edtech, these are the trends that will shape the manner in which we work and live one year from now and in the future

While no one foresaw the world-changing events of last year, technology certainly played a big part in helping us cope with various challenges, from communicating to shopping, and helped prepare us to adapt to the many challenges as we headed into 2021.

Inevitably, the events of 2020 will act as a catalyst for a whole host of changes that were already on the cards, but have been accelerated with the use of technology, and consequently is now on an entirely different trajectory in 2021 (and beyond). The difference would be that things will just happen more quickly now, with necessity as the driving force. 

Here are some technology trends that have blossomed in 2020 and will continue to thrive in 2021, featuring applications from promising startups and representing not just good use cases for business purposes, but good investment opportunities as well. 

5G-enabled AI, IoT, & edge computing

One of the major 2021 technology trends making waves is edge computing, which is the concept of processing and analyzing data in servers located closer to the applications they serve. Edge computing is now burgeoning in popularity and opening new markets for established telecommunications providers, semiconductor startups, and new software ecosystems. 

It’s mind-boggling how technology has come together over the last couple of decades to make edge computing possible, which has really exploded in 2021. Harnessing a trove of big data and the idea that with lots of information, now stored in mega-sized data centers or even in the cloud, one can sift and analyze relevant insights from around the world and use it to provide new value to consumers. 

Combine this concept with IoT, and connected everything, from coffee cups to pill dispensers, oil refineries to paper mills, smart goggles to watches, and the value to the consumer could be infinite. Experts foresee a very exciting time ahead as the market can see unlimited potential in the combination of big data, IoT, and AI, although we are only at the beginning of a long road. 


The telehealth industry saw demand rise incredibly last year as Covid-19 infected millions worldwide. Telehealth appointments, of course, are ideal for a pandemic: patients can get an informed opinion on their symptoms, and receive a referral for a diagnostic test without having to physically go into an office and endanger others. 

In fact, the global telehealth/telemedicine market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 37.7% to reach US$191.7 billion by 2025 from an estimated US$38.7 billion in 2020. The key factors driving the growth of this market according to Research and Markets include the need to expand healthcare access, the growing prevalence of chronic diseases and conditions, a shortage of physicians, advancements in telecommunications, government support and raising awareness, and rising technology adoption in the wake of Covid-19. 

The Asia Pacific is projected to register the highest growth during the forecast period. This large share can be attributed to factors such as the rising prevalence of chronic conditions, the need to reduce healthcare expenditure, increasing overall and geriatric population.

Centralized digital currency finally arriving

When Facebook shocked policymakers with its plan to launch a digital currency last year, central banks around the world have been forging ahead with discussions on how they could create their own virtual money. Then in early October, the Bank for International Settlements and seven central banks including the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and the Bank of England published a report laying out some key requirements for central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.

Among the recommendations, the central banks made were that CBDCs complement — but not replace — cash and other forms of legal tender and that they support rather than harm monetary and financial stability. They said digital currencies should also be secure, as cheap as possible — if not free — to use, and “have an appropriate role for the private sector.”

Adoption of edtech at schools & education institutes

The pandemic has forced major changes in education at every level, from early years to adult learning and career development. It has accelerated the adoption of digital technology in education with global edtech investment on track to grow by 15% in 2020, a predicted €6.4 billion. At its peak in mid-April, the virus caused nationwide school closure in 190 countries, impacting 90% of total enrolled students, almost 1.6 billion people globally.

Hence, while the world still battles the Covid-19 outbreak, edtech startups can expect significant growth as more people turn to digital education and solutions. International organizations like UNESCO also have their own list which certainly increases the reach of these platforms. The current pandemic has accelerated the transformation of education and technology startups in this sector have grown exponentially which means that edtech is here to stay and the way students learn will never be the same.