Illustration: iStock Illustration: iStock

Think about the most successful high-tech companies of the past few years, and social networks like Facebook and Twitter likely come to mind. Both are fun diversions and compelling advertising platforms, but they’re strictly confined to the digital world.

Companies are increasingly trying to bring that same startup ethos—launch, iterate and optimize fast—to established, hard-asset businesses. The most famous example is Tesla, PayPal co-founder Elon Musk’s electric car company, which is branching into battery manufacturing and building a network of charging stations. Musk also backs Hyperloop, a compressed-air transport system he sees as an alternative to high-speed rail. And many tech observers consider Uber’s endgame as being not a glorified taxi company but a privatized mass transportation service, on par with any public transit authority.

Industrial- or infrastructure-focused tech companies are popping up in many markets: Take Calgary’s Cold Bore Technology, which makes sensors that improve oil-well-drilling efficiency, or Miovision, a Kitchener, Ont., company that builds sophisticated cameras to run municipal traffic-flow systems.

In the past few years, “there’s an app for that” was the byword; these days that app is likely to come with an extensive suite of hardware.

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Could your business benefit from industrial- or infrastructure-focused tech? What solutions is the market missing right now? Let us know by commenting below.

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