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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 14, 2020

Lux Research
August 14, 2020

Each day our analysts comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across industries. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Every Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for this week below.

GM's changes its tune and invests in fast-charging infrastructure with EVgo

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"GM had previously partnered with several charging companies to integrate different networks into its driver app, but it had stated it wouldn't invest in the infrastructure. Although the company did not disclose how much it would invest in the network, it notably focused less on highway travel and more on retail locations like grocery stores, where drivers spend 15 to 30 minutes – a strategy focused on making electric vehicles more accessible to drivers who can't charge at home or work. It will likely result in lower profitability than deploying along highways, where fast-charging is needed to enable long-distance travel, as most drivers will opt for lower-cost home charging when possible."

Port of Rotterdam becomes the first port to join the Hydrogen Council

Runeel DaliahRuneel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"With a membership count of 92 companies, the addition of a new member to the Hydrogen Council is hardly an event these days. However, the inclusion of the Port of Rotterdam to the Council is a noteworthy exception. As the hydrogen economy evolves past the confines of international borders, ports will have a large and important role to play in the development and expansion of a global hydrogen economy. With regions like the EU and Japan expecting to import in hydrogen to fulfill the promises of their national energy strategy, ports will become a focal point of their hydrogen economy and should be included in any planning exercises."

Parsable's $60 million investment gain signals criticality of digital tools to support COVID-19 industrial worker safety

13815-thumb-squareMichael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Parsable, a connected worker platform, raised $60 million in venture capital, even as fewer workers are required to be connected. The investment signals the criticality of digital tools, as the platform's value is in enabling fast rollout and verification of new industrial worker procedures for COVID-19. For example, the company is offering COVID-19 EHS standard operating procedures and analytics to enable customers to deploy and validate worker safety. Parsable offers the kit at no cost, following similar moves by software companies (PTC-Vuforia and Bentley-ProjectWise) to support the industry by waiving 2020 fees. Users should take advantage of these offers, while suppliers should position their tools to aid in COVID-19 remediation."

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New integrated circuit chips for medical sensors may help enhance future development of personal biosensors

Lisheng Gao, Analyst at Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"EnSilica introduced a customizable single-chip medical sensor application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) platform, called eSi-MediSense, to speed up the development of wearable medical/fitness vital sign monitoring products. It claims the chips are optimized for medical sensor applications to extend battery life and reduce costs. Personal vital sign sensors are infamous for being energy-draining and costly; with increasing demand for point-of-care medical sensors, dedicated IC solutions to resolve the issues are crucial to help come up with solutions. Those interested in developing electronic biosensors should consider evaluating the platform to examine how it helps further reduce the costs and power consumption of vital sign sensors."

Marrone and Vive Crop Protection partner to improve complementarity of key bio-based and synthetic crop protection solutions

Haslun, JoshJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun  Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The first product to emerge from the BioUnite partnership, AZterknot FC, will be marketed first by Vive Crop Protection (VCP) broadly and then, pending EPA approval, by Marrone in the specialty crop market. It includes the immunostimulatory effect of Reynoutria (knotweed) extract, the systemic fungicide azoxystrobin, and the improved complementarity associated with VCP's Allosperse technology (co-application of liquid fertilizers). The partnership comes after longtime CEO Pam Marrone's exit from her namesake company and, more importantly, with the need for biopesticides to improve efficacy and enable products to more easily enter grower workflows. Companies, both leadership teams have identified a solid move; expect competitors to follow."

AI-enabled privacy-preserving occupancy sensor developer Density raises $51 million, citing increased sales due to COVID-19

McCollum, ColeCole McCollum, Analyst @cmccoco Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The company (Lux Take: Engage) said the funding will be used to address "unprecedented demand" from various building managers to maintain capacity limits due to COVID-19. What is unique about Density's sensor compared to competing solutions like cameras or break-beam sensors is the company's focus on both accuracy and privacy by using an infrared depth sensor and machine learning. This focus on privacy is particularly important given the increased scrutiny over camera-based approaches, which can also be used for facial recognition. Those seeking a solution to monitor occupancy should engage but should also be aware that, with improving AI capabilities for biometrics like gait analysis, even Density's solution may introduce privacy risks."

Arevo raises another $25 million and launches new carbon fiber 3D printer

XIAO ZHONGXiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"With this newly raised $25 million Series C led by GGV Capital and Defy Partners, Arevo has raised a total of $60 million from top financial backers like Khosla Ventures and In-Q-Tel as well as strategic backers like Asahi Glass, Sumitomo Corporation, and Airbus. It claims the new printer is suitable for large-format production that integrates generative design and engineering simulation. Currently, all carbon fiber 3D printing companies are targeting low-volume part production due to cost concerns, and this creates a stronger demand for generative design. Arevo provides the most integrated solution, and it claims to have better part quality than incumbents like Markforged."

Unfold: Bayer and Temasek's $30 million strategy toward enhancing vertical farming

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Unfold, a joint venture (JV) between Leaps by Bayer and Temasek, will develop new seed varieties tailored to vertical farming systems with an initial $30 million investment from the pair and rights to germplasm from Bayer's vegetable portfolio. Vertical farming's expansion has remained limited to herbs and greens due to their rapid production cycles, easy scalability, and low space constraints. Expanding such attributes to a greater diversity of crops is a significant, albeit early, opportunity underway by competitors like Inari. Moreover, linking compatible varieties directly to existing indoor production prescriptions is an interesting path to commercial success. Companies should expect investment from regions with high food import demand."

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TemperPack will expand capacity with $31.3 million Series C investment

Tiffany HuaTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"In addition to growing regulations and bans on expanded polystyrene (EPS), the spike in home delivery services for cold-storage food and medication due to COVID-19 has grown TemperPack's business significantly. With a total of $78 million in investments, the company will be aggressively increasing its capacity and expanding across the U.S. and Europe. There is an opportunity for clients within the textile industry to partner with TemperPack to provide pre-consumer textile waste, and those within the paper industry to provide paper and fibers as the raw material feedstock. Those interested in sustainable thermal packaging or protective packaging alternatives should view ClimaCell as a sustainable alternative to EPS."

"Molecular coffee" maker Atomo raises $9 million in additional seed funding, bringing its total to $11.6 million

Thomas HayesThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Existing investor Horizons Ventures participated, with other noteworthy investors now joining the cap table including S2G Ventures, AgFunder, and Bessemer Venture Partners. The new funding will go toward construction of a production roastery in Seattle, with the company eyeing a commercial launch in 2021. Although this brings some clarity to Atomo's commercialization timeline since its first tranche of seed funding, the major challenges facing the company remain the same: competing with the prevailing coffee culture and demonstrating cost-competitiveness. The former will require an equal or superior sensory profile to traditional coffee, signaling an opportunity for food companies to provide formulation support."

Power tools predictive maintenance (PdM) startup ToolSense raises €3 million to continue expansion amid COVID-19

Harshit SharmaHarshit Sharma, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"ToolSense works with the likes of Stihl, Tyrolit, and Geda and will use the investment to scale its headcount despite the drop in construction and municipal cleaning activities. ToolSense offers an industrial IoT solution comprising a current sensor and accompanying software to analyze the data. Although the company focuses on several digital use cases, including asset monitoring and PdM, clients should explore how it is positioning and selling its solution to end customers. ToolSense considers its solution an add-on that adds differentiation in after-sales for power tool companies. Regardless of the drop in sales for new power tools, this concept makes the solution relevant for solidifying after-sales support for tools already in service."

Hyundai launches dedicated BEV brand Ioniq, underpinned by new platform

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance


"We cited many examples of automakers launching dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) platforms in the next two to three years in the recent inflection tracker, but Hyundai has now taken its efforts a step further and is launching an electric vehicle brand under the name "Ioniq." Similar to VW's launch of its "ID" sub-brand, the brand launch coincides with the release of the new dedicated BEV platform "e-GMP," on which the vehicles will be built. Companies should note that this announcement is solely focused on the branding of Hyundai's vehicles and is not a change to previous timelines or investments in electrification."

TerraCycle partners with Kroger to offer free mail-in FPP recycling for sustainable product line

Tiffany HuaTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore


"While there are several initiatives working on improving or rethinking flexible plastic packaging (FPP) recycling, FPP collection is the biggest limitation. TerraCycle's partnership with Kroger is an attempt to make it easier for consumers to collect and recycle its Simple Truth bags, pouches, liners, and wraps through free prepaid shipping labels. Simple Truth is Kroger's organic and natural product line, and consumers of this brand are more likely to make use of the free mail-in FPP recycling program. This free mail-in recycling approach is a good start; however, interindustry collaboration around packaging design, collection logistics, and consumer marketing is necessary to reach appreciable FPP collection volumes."

 

 
 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Press Release: COVID-19 Accelerates the Energy Transition: Adapt or Perish

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 7, 2020

- Blog: How Will The Energy Transition Look for the Rest of 2020 and Beyond?

- Blog: How is 3D Printing Disrupting Manufacturing? A Chat With the CEO of Formlabs

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