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Five best ideas from Peter Thiel's band of young entrepreneurs

Peter Thiel, best known as an investor in PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, outlined his first class of 20 Under 20 fellows, young entrepreneurs aiming to "become the next generation of tech visionaries."

Peter Thiel, best known as an investor in PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, outlined his first class of 20 Under 20 fellows, young entrepreneurs aiming to "become the next generation of tech visionaries."

The first class will pursue the scientific and technical projects that get them up in the morning. These fellows will also get $100,000, a two-year tenure and access to a vast network of entrepreneurs and innovators.

These projects span multiple industries. And the most interesting point:

More than four hundred people younger than twenty applied to be Fellows. Applications arrived from nearly two dozen countries, and from nearly two hundred high schools, junior colleges, community colleges, four-year colleges, and graduate schools. Many applicants never went to college, had already stopped out of school, were already working, or had already launched their own company. Many had a long personal history of entrepreneurship. They applied at a time of increasing debate about the cost and value of college and student debt.

Here's a look at my five favorite ventures out of the list of 20:

  1. Commercializing anti-aging research. Laura Deming started working in a biogerontology lab when she was 12, matriculated at MIT when she was 14, and now at 17 plans to change incentives with current research funding. Her fund---IP Immortal---plans on bringing therapies from the lab to market faster.
  2. Do classroom lessons via collaboration tools to make class time more engaging. Nick Cammarata and David Merfield have OPEN, a project that aims to share online lessons at home and use the face-time at school for better things.
  3. Start the robotic revolution. David (Jiageng) Luan plans to do for consumer robotics what IBM did for PCs He sees home robots in every family.
  4. Extract minerals from asteroids. John Burnham argues that extracting minerals from asteroids, comets and planetary bodies will lead to the colonizing of space. I'm sure Virgin Galactic and SpaceX will be interested in Burnham's ideas.
  5. Better mobility aids for the disabled. Gary Kurek has been developing these mobility aids for the last four years. He invented a walker-wheelchair hybrid for his cancer-stricken grandmother that offers assistance based on how strong she feels at any moment.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com