At Lux, one of our bread-and-butter analyses is evaluating emerging start-ups. Our teams use a mix of data and expertise to determine which companies are worth talking to; from there, we use our years of experience to interview, challenge, and synthesize into an overall recommendation. As we wrap up 2019, I thought it would be instructive to review what companies rose to the top of our analyses this year, and what themes emerged. Remember, getting a “Positive” or “Strong Positive” rating is rare, so the companies highlighted below are in an elite club. First off – what topics have the highest prevalence of positively-rated companies in our reviews?
All analyses were based on primary interviews, summed up in a company profile and rated by the experts on our research team. Not surprisingly, given the heat in the space, “AI, machine learning, and analytics” has the most positively rated companies in 2019, with 15% of all positively rated companies tagged to the topic. This view is informative because our analysts and the data at their fingertips serve as a sensing mechanism for worthwhile companies and are uncovering interesting companies not only in hot spaces like AI and IoT but also in more mature areas like energy feedstocks and industrial water.
Our methodology provides additional data to further analyze. For every company we profile, we score the company on 10 metrics on a scale from 1 to 5. Categories include the technology value proposition, IP, management, and momentum. Adding up the scores for each company gives us a metric to quantify the strength of the company, which we used to show the top companies in the top topics in the market map below. (Click here to download)
Lastly, we can look at some of the top companies by score to understand what it takes to rise to the top of our coverage. For this, I sorted by that composite score, but also filtered down to companies founded from 2016 on, to find top companies emerging more recently. The top three companies by those constraints were:
- UVeye. UVeye is developing automated optical inspection of vehicles and recently made news with investments from Volvo Cars and Toyota Tsusho. UVeye combines hardware built from off-the-shelf cameras and lighting systems with proprietary image-stitching and deep learning algorithms trained on huge volumes of images. This is a perfect of example of a company recognizing the evolved capability of computer vision and deep learning and picking a specific use case to master. It’s leveraged this approach toward partnerships with multiple OEMs with an inspection-as-a-service business model for the automotive market. We expect continued success, as UVeye has matched the right tool with the right problem with a growing competitive moat if it can keep building a unique set of training data.
- Purissima. Purissima uses a fermentation process with nonphotosynthetic microalgae to biosynthesize high-value compounds like phytocannabinoids. This combines two recent hot topics in the Lux ecosystem: synthetic biology and cannabis. The process can produce an alphabet soup of in-demand compounds including CBD, THC, CBC, THCV, CBDV, and CBCV. Purissima is well-positioned to capitalize on the increasing demand for products with specific cannabinoids, as no dominant method has emerged up to this point. We’re high (get it?) on Purissima because it has a scalable, novel process with unique capability, poised to capitalize on a rapidly growing market.
- Titan Advanced Energy Solutions. Titan is developing a real-time ultrasound-based battery management system that claims a more accurate assessment of battery state of charge (SoC) and state of health (SoH), enabling users to squeeze more usable life out of the battery. It passes ultrasound signals through the battery during operation, and measures resulting changes to the waveform. The state of the battery influences the measured signal, which the company has linked to the SoC and SoH parameters like SEI growth, delamination, and lithium plating. Given this enhanced insight, the company claims users can use a wider SoC window, resulting in up to 20% more usable capacity and 125% extension of cycle life. Such bold claims demand further validation, but as applications like electric vehicles remain hindered by battery costs, low-cost ways to squeeze more juice out of your battery will be welcomed by the market.
We’ll continue to review the most interesting companies to hit our radar in 2020, so stay tuned into our blog where we’ll talk about who and what we’re seeing. If you haven't already, be sure to download the market map from this post, here.
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