Environment and energy, or “cleantech,” applications have become a target for more and more companies developing nanointermediate products, such as batteries for electric vehicles. Developers targeting this segment incorporate nanomaterials like lithium titanate and lithium iron phosphate nanoparticles into battery electrodes.
In a recent report*, Lux Research summarized the opportunities of this space, and applied its proprietary assessment tool, the Lux Innovation Grid, to compare the field of competitors and identify its most likely winners. The Grid scores each company on three attributes – technical value, business execution, and maturity, and then assigns a relative position on the Lux Innovation Grid’s four quadrants.
Overall, the report found little technological differentiation between firms targeting this segment. A123Systems, alone, pulls away from the pack due to its solid business execution. Like many of its competitors, the company develops nanostructured lithium iron phosphate battery electrodes for the automotive market. But A123Systems was the only nanotech company to go public in 2009, and signaled one of the year’s most successful IPOs in any technology category.
Electrovaya, which scored highest in technical value, is developing nanostructured polymer electrolyte technology for three different battery cathode chemistries. A relatively strong revenue-to-employee ratio of $41,538 and a strong partnership list that includes Tata Motors also help distinguish it from the competition.
Alone in the Long Shot quadrant is K2 Energy Solutions that, despite two recent battery-development deals, hasn’t yet landed a large partner in the lucrative automotive sector. The aforementioned deals include a $30 million grant from the Chinese government for a joint venture with DLG battery, and another with an undisclosed customer in personal mobility (e.g. scooter and e-bikes).
Also, Altair Nanotechnologies’ status has changed for the worse since Lux issued its report in March. With a Q1 burn rate five times its 2009 annual revenues and a stock price below $0.40, Altair is in danger of being delisted from NASDAQ by the end of 2010. Although an updated score for Altair is as yet unavailable, its position on the Grid has likely drifted into Long Shot territory.
* Source: Lux Research report “The Governing Green Giants: Makers of Cleantech Nanointermediates on the Lux Innovation Grid” (client registration required)