Tech startups hoping to become household names in 2016

Food, finance, furniture, fashion and film could be transformed if these seven promising firms achieve their potential

What will be the next household-name app-based service like Uber? Where are the next “unicorns” – startup businesses which rapidly rise to a $1bn valuation?

The biggest successes of the last few years have all been about software. “There’s an app for that” has gone from being an Apple slogan to a simple truism. But the low-hanging fruit has been picked, and what’s left is much tougher to deliver. It may be expensive to build, pose a tricky technical problem, or simply have some strong incumbents fighting back.

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Power to the poop: one Colorado city is using human waste to run its vehicles

Renewable natural gas is a growing industry for fuel, electricity and heat, but advocates says it’s a largely untapped market in the US

No matter how you spin it, the business of raw sewage isn’t sexy. But in Colorado, the city of Grand Junction is making huge strides to reinvent their wastewater industry – and the result is like finding a diamond in the sludge.

The Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant is processing 8m gallons of Grand Junction’s human waste into renewable natural gas (RNG), also known as biomethane. The RNG is then used to fuel about 40 fleet vehicles, including garbage trucks, street sweepers, dump trucks and transit buses.

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‘Trident is old technology’: the brave new world of cyber warfare

Forget debates about Britain’s nuclear deterrent. New technology means a country can be brought to its knees with the click of a mouse

The naval base at La Spezia in northern Italy is in an advanced state of decay. The grand Mussolini-era barracks are shuttered; the weeds won their battle with the concrete some time ago. But amid the crumbling masonry, there is an incongruously neat little building, shaded behind a line of flags, with smartly outfitted security men behind its glass doors. This is Nato’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE). As one battleship after another has been removed from what remains of the Italian navy, and the base is wound down, the centre is preparing for a new kind of marine warfare amid the wreckage of the old.

In a line of workshops along the quay, technicians tinker at the innards of the next generation of naval weapons. They may look like large bright yellow torpedoes, but they are in fact underwater drones, capable of being remote controlled on the surface and taking autonomous actions in the deep. Several will be able to stay submerged for months, eventually for years, only surfacing to report an encounter with an enemy submarine.

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