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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 20, 2021

Lux Research
August 20, 2021

Every day our researchers read through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions on important developments and industry news. Our analysts then evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

On Fridays we highlight our Lux Take on the top news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for the past week below. 

Innovation in delivery of biopesticides to reduce costs significantly

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Scientists at the University of São Paulo's Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture and the University of Copenhagen (KU) in Denmark have developed a natural bioinsecticide that controls corn leafhopper (Dalbulus maidis). The product was developed by liquid fermentation of Metarhizium robertsii fungus that results in yeastlike cells called blastospores. It's easy to apply with water using existing spraying equipment, tolerant to dehydration, and target-specific, with no negative impact on the environment or human health. The researchers claim that it takes two days to produce the blastospores. Companies keen on scaling regenerative agriculture using low-cost biopesticides should keep an eye on these innovative pest management products."

Apeel raises $250 million Series E, bringing its valuation to more than $2 billion

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst, Lux Research

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Led by Temasek, this Series E funding round also had other prominent investors and brings Apeel's total funding to $635 million. This latest investment will allow Apeel to expand its supply chain reach and develop its recent technology acquisition based on hyperspectral imaging. Apeel's glycerolipid-based coating is currently used in about eight countries. The company is looking to further expand its retail footprint in 2021, making it a formidable player in the post-harvest landscape. Given Apeel's interest in transitioning from an edible coatings company to an integrated solutions provider, expect to see more announcements from the company around acquisition and deployment of adjacent digital technologies."

Australian renewables projects hitting rough patch due to regulatory and grid connection hurdles

Michael Sullivan, Analyst, Lux Research

Michael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Two key ingredients for renewable and storage projects are investment and regulatory support. Both are going through a rough patch in the Australian market according to a Clean Energy Council survey of industry leaders. Inconsistent policies and grid connection challenges are contributing to lower investor confidence, the survey says. Despite renewables making up 25% of Australia's electricity, power from wind and solar will not enter the energy mix quickly due to these issues. In contrast, the Clean Energy Regulator shows a pipeline of large-scale projects reaching 3.7 GW. The market data suggests a slowing, not a halt, of projects. Energy companies should remain consistent in pursuing opportunities while advocating for faster action."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

Tackling climate change one pair of yoga pants at a time: Lululemon and Genomatica team up on bio-based nylon

Kristin Marshall, Analyst, Lux Research

Kristin Marshall, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"With the rise of eco-conscious consumers and investors, brands in the apparel and footwear industry – outdoor wear and athleisure in particular – have been searching for ways to reduce their impact. What is exciting about this announcement is the size of the potential impact – nylon is responsible for a significant portion of the materials used in the textile industry and is the largest-volume synthetic material used by Lululemon. Brands should recognize that sustainable solutions (even technically and economically viable ones) will have a difficult time being realized without support – whether this means investing in and working with startups (in Lululemon's case, Genomatica and LanzaTech) or setting expectations with suppliers."

HYBRIT delivers first "fossil-free" steel

Anthony Schiavo, Research Director, Lux Research

Anthony Schiavo, Research Director
Lux Take: Very Important


"The metals space is accelerating its efforts to go green, with decarbonization projects underway in both aluminum and steel. The announcement here is an important milestone for those efforts, though volumes are still quite small. Companies should view this development as part of the deepening links between green electricity generation and the future of materials and chemicals production."

Biodegradable piezoelectric device could bring new concepts for implantable electromechanical therapies

Lisheng Gao, Ph.D., Analyst, Lux Research

Lisheng Gao, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"A research group from the University of Wisconsin developed polymer film-based biodegradable implantable piezoelectric devices for electrotherapies that could accelerate the healing of injuries. Motions activate the devices to generate electrical outputs. The devices show benefits in reducing recovery-related expenses. While many have proposed the potential of using implantables for electrostimulated healing, the high costs and complexity could impede their deployment. Companies should be aware that the technology is still at the lab stage and needs years to undergo the regulatory process. Materials companies should monitor the technology's progress for potential business opportunities to enter the high-margin market."

Canadian government invests $400 million into ArcelorMittal Dofasco for low-CO₂ steel

Cecilia Gee, Analyst, Lux Research

Cecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This investment comes on the heels of an earlier July announcement for an electric arc furnace (EAF) unit at AccelorMittal's Sestao plant in Spain. The $400 million from the Canadian government will support AccelorMittal Dofasco, a subsidiary in Ontario, in phasing out coal-fired blast furnaces in favor of EAF and claims to reduce GHG emissions by up to 3 million MT per year by 2030. Companies should expect ArcelorMittal to continue converting all global assets to low-carbon steel production in order for it to reach its 2050 carbon neutrality commitments and expect other steelmakers to do so as well, as the industry faces continuing pressure toward lower energy and carbon intensity."

Lux Research - Materials - Newsletter

China continues aggressive coal expansion despite pledge of peak emissions by 2030

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Managing Consultant, Lux Research

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Managing Consultant
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Despite its pledge of peak emissions by 2030, China continues to expand its coal power and steel manufacturing capacity. Specifically, the government announced 18 coal-fired blast furnaces and 43 coal-fired power plants in the first half of 2021. While China is the global leader in renewable energy capacity installations, with 72 GW of wind and 48 GW of solar in 2020, it continues to invest heavily in thermal generation assets as well. In terms of steel, China manufacturers more than 56% of the global supply and lacks a viable low-carbon alternative. While the carbon-neutral pledges in 2020 were met with much skepticism, it is becoming clear that a green strategy for post-COVID economic recovery will not be a universal phenomenon."

Consortium led by Iberdrola to evaluate system integration in a 100% renewable system

Patricia Seoane da Silva, Senior Research Associate, Lux Research

Patricia Seoane da Silva, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The Flexener consortium will span from 2021 to 2023 and has been granted a total budget of €7.6 million. Flexener's main objective will be to evaluate novel energy technologies (e.g., renewable generation assets, energy storage, power grid management solutions) and their integration in a 100% renewable energy system. This line of research will become increasingly relevant as more economies subscribe to carbon neutrality pledges and increase their local share of renewables. Companies should realize that deploying low-carbon assets is the first step, but ensuring their optimal integration within the grid will be key to achieving a robust generation and supply system."

Deep Genomics raises $180 million Series C for AI-enabled RNA therapeutic discovery

Anshul Gupte, Research Associate, Lux Research

Anshul Gupte, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The company develops an AI platform for the discovery of RNA therapies, and it plans to use the funds to further advance its preclinical pipeline. Deep genomics currently researches central nervous system and metabolic diseases. The utilization of AI could potentially develop novel therapeutics in the space, especially in precision medicine. The company claims its RNA-based technology offers improvements in targeting specific genetic conditions, and its AI workbench is making progress in academia. However, companies should note that the tech is still in the early research phase and should follow closely to see if the company can deliver on the potential benefits."


Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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