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2020's Hottest Digital Topics & Best Tech Startups

Shriram Ramanathan, Ph.D., Research Director
March 25, 2021

Of all the companies that the Lux Digital Team profiled via primary interviews, 92 companies received a Positive or Strong Positive Lux Take. In the figure below, we show how these companies were distributed across the different 2020 themes and topics.

Lux Positively Rated Digital Startups of 2020

Operations optimization emerged as the leading topic with nearly 20% of the positively rated companies focusing on this topic. This was followed by Automation which has nearly 13% of the positively rated companies profiled by the Lux Digital Team. Finally, Sensors and Personalized CPG, with around 11% of the positively rated companies each, were a close third. Over the past few years, many companies have been focusing on both operational optimization and automation as part of their digital transformation strategy. As COVID-19 shut down day-to-day operations and necessitated worker safety measures, these companies ramped up their efforts in both of these areas.

Every company we profile is scored (from 1 to 5) on 10 different dimensions using metrics like technology value proposition, management, and momentum. Averaging the scores across all these dimensions allows us to identify the top companies in each of the above topics, which we now highlight in the figure below.

Top Digital Startups With a Positive Rating 2020

Lastly, we look at some of the top companies by score to understand what it takes to rise to the top of our coverage. For this, we limited ourselves to companies founded from 2016 onward. The top companies by those constraints were:

GuardKnox:

GuardKnox provides a platform to make vehicle electrical/electronic (E/E) systems more modular in order to accommodate future service-based business models in the automotive industry. Depending on the type of customer (Tier 1, OEM, or aftermarket supplier) and the customer’s goals, the company offers a mix of different products, which range from electrical hardware to pre-development design projects to software. Clients interested in where GuardKnox is moving in the long term should watch to see where it finds the most traction in the marketplace.

Jupiter Intelligence:

Jupiter Intelligence offers climate risk analytics through a single integrated platform with multiple services, including the Jupiter FloodScore, Jupiter HeatScore, Jupiter FireScore, and ClimateScore Global. The data is provided via a GIS or API interface with in-depth analytics that incorporates natural landscapes, weather history, human activity, and infrastructure setup, thereby allowing for high spatial resolution related to floods, wind, heat, and fire. Clients should engage with Jupiter Intelligence for assessing and managing risks caused by climate change-induced natural hazards and extreme weather; the company's comprehensive horizontal coverage in countries and industrial sectors can be helpful for detecting unforeseeable risks.

Rubix senses & instrumentation:

Rubix Senses & Instrumentation offers outdoor and indoor air quality sensors and electronic noses. The sensors can profile particulate matter, identify sounds to determine their source, and measure more than 200 gases and odors, which is higher than most other sensors available on the market. The company targets B2B customers to sell products and license technologies. Its air quality sensors are designed for smart city and smart building applications, while its electronic noses target smart appliance and odor-related industrial quality controls. Clients should engage with the company, as it has demonstrated the commercial value of its technology in various applications and has successfully penetrated the home appliance and food and beverage industries.

Xandar Kardian:

Xandar Kardian offers small-form-factor and energy-efficient ultrawide-band (UWB) radar sensor devices for continuous activity and condition monitoring in smart building, health care, and automotive applications. The sensor devices are capable of accurately monitoring space occupancy and utilization, tracking the location of humans, monitoring activities of interest, differentiating various vital signs, and identifying symptoms with high sensitivity and accuracy with low false-positive rates. The company uses a SaaS business model to offer its sensing solutions through hardware and software bundled subscriptions. Xandar Kardian is an excellent candidate to invest in and partner with, as the company has demonstrated the capabilities of its technology, established several partnerships, and shown good business execution.

Omnirobotic:

Omnirobotic develops software, AI algorithms, and enabling hardware for industrial robot arms to autonomously paint industrial products and components. The company's solution uses an array of 3D cameras to create a digital twin of parts in a batch process before creating a task plan for the robot to execute, thereby eliminating the need for explicit programming of the robot and jigs to hold parts in place. The company targets high-mix manufacturers in industries like aerospace, heavy equipment, and industrial components and claims a one-year payback period inclusive of all hardware and software fees. Those interested in factory automation for discrete manufacturing should adopt the company's solutions, while those interested in market opportunities for adhesives, paints, and coatings should consider partnership opportunities with the company.


Epicore Biosystems:

Epicore Biosystems develops microfluidics-based skin patches to monitor physiological (temperature, motion, and heart rate) metrics and biochemical markers found in sweat. The company’s technology is differentiated by its microfluidic patch and embedded sensor technology, in contrast to more typical wicking or absorbent-based patches. The company’s initial target market includes sports and fitness, although the company is also partnering with skin care companies and pharmaceutical companies in order to address cosmetic and healthcare needs. Those interested in developing a sweat-based biochemical sensing patch should reach out to Epicore for a partnership.

Lux Research Digital Deep Tech Newsletter

It is worth noting that this overview of the hottest topics and top-rated companies in digital is a story viewed only from a single perspective, that of the startup ecosystem. As the world was hit by COVID-19, priorities in digital shifted for both clients and vendors, leading to acceleration in various digital topics, such as worker safety, remote working, and knowledge management. To stay update on our research in the digital transformation program, be sure to subscribe to our digital newsletter. 

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