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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 28, 2020

Lux Research
August 28, 2020

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

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

Nio's "battery-as-a-service" model is the most promising battery leasing model yet

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive


"Although electric vehicles are competitive on a total cost of ownership basis in most regions, high upfront costs are still a barrier for many potential customers. Attempts to decouple the costs of the battery and the costs of the vehicle are not new, as Renault has offered a similar battery leasing option on its Zoe. The two reduce the vehicle cost by roughly $10,000 and are leased for between $100 and $150 per month. However, Nio's battery swapping network offers more flexibility to introduce new battery chemistries and allows customers to change their battery size while owning the vehicle. For these reasons, and the fact that it is bringing in partners to help finance the business, companies should view Nio's announcement as favorable."

Facebook moves to monetize on VR experiences

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Facebook's updated terms for Oculus VR headsets require all new users to use a Facebook account for login and will force all existing users to do the same after 2023. Not surprisingly, the community voiced their discontent with the policy update by a tech giant already known for questionable practices around safeguarding users' data. The move is not only about the promise to better integrate all the Facebook services and provide seamless access to a VR experience but also the beginning of a long-term strategy to capitalize on users' behavior. Comprehensive tracking of user activity is the source of better advertisement targeting – the main source of the company's revenue. A potentially better approach is to do the same but be open about it."

Voodoo Manufacturing permanently closes all 3D printing services due to COVID-19

Tugce Uslu, PDEngTugce Uslu, PDEng, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Voodoo Manufacturing was one of the hundreds of service bureaus that focused on low- to mid-volume part production using desktop and desktop professional 3D printers. Recently, it used its assets to produce protective shields to help fight COVID-19 and finally decided to close its services permanently due to the global pandemic. Lux expects that 3D printing service bureaus with strong technological capabilities will survive, but companies like Voodoo Manufacturing with low-value part production services will face difficulties in generating revenue in the next few years and will have to close their doors."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

GM commits to 5G connectivity in all 2022 Chinese Cadillac models

Kern, Josh

Josh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The announcement also included most models of Buicks and Chevrolet vehicles sold in China for the same model year. The move lines up with China's leadership in rolling out 5G and V2X infrastructure across its country to support connected and autonomous vehicle applications. We've already seen similar announcements in China from OEMs like BMW, while others like Ford have committed to all U.S. vehicle models, including cellular V2X, by 2022. While commitments from these automakers are one step toward ubiquitous connectivity in vehicles, the construction of infrastructure will be the bigger barrier. Like Level 4 autonomous vehicles, companies should expect future applications of connected vehicles to first roll out on a city-by-city basis."

University of Manchester spins off membrane separation-based coating company Molymem

Abhirabh Basu, Analyst at Lux ResearchAbhirabh Basu, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"
Manchester University has spun off a new startup – Molymem – which will focus on developing a 2D coating using chemically modified molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) for filtration and membrane technologies. The company claims the coating can be retrofitted to membranes or added to new membranes. The coating should improve the robustness of membranes during cleaning cycles using harsh chemicals at a low cost and make the membranes less prone to fouling. Molymem is expected to target applications in pharmaceutical and food and beverage separations as well as wastewater treatment sectors. Those interested should monitor Molymem's progress, as little is known about the performance of the coating.

California blackouts are a sign of poor resource planning, will accelerate large-scale energy storage deployments

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Unlike 2019's blackouts, California's recent rolling blackouts resulted from insufficient capacity to meet peak demand during a heat wave. Renewables weren't a direct cause. Rather, key factors were gas plants tripping offline, plants CAISO did not realize were already offline, and reduced imports due to neighboring states facing the same heat wave. California will likely push ahead on large-scale energy storage and expand emergency demand response (currently capped at 2%). Hybrid thermal plants also have potential for avoiding thermal derating and improving resiliency. The world is warming; those interested should realize that extreme weather will only accelerate the energy transition by catalyzing pressure to decarbonize the power sector."

Nespresso finally tries to close the loop on its aluminum

drishti masandDrishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"This partnership with Novelis will be the first time Nespresso pods will be made from 80% recycled aluminum; it will help Nespresso realize its commitment to reducing waste and increasing material reuse. What is surprising is that Nespresso first attempted to establish a recycle platform to collect back its used pods and partnered with Rio Tinto to use "responsibly sourced" aluminum rather than using recycled aluminum as the initial sustainable solution. Recyclate materials require significant development and investment to use but are one of the most sustainable solutions to incumbents; companies should recognize that using recycled materials needs to become the first solution if it is an option."

Lidar company Luminar to go public with a reverse merger

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
Luminar will merge with shell company Gores Metropoulos to become publicly traded on NASDAQ and achieve "an equity value of $3.4 billion at closing." This makes it yet another lidar company to go public through a reverse merger, with Velodyne doing the same earlier in the year. With lidar companies starting to move into public ownership, those interested should be especially skeptical of those without major clients. Volvo previously announced plans to use Luminar's lidar in consumer vehicles in 2022, and with a handful of others forming large partnerships with auto OEMs and Tier-1s, there will be few available partners left."

Energy Transition EBook


Clariant forms partnership with Chemtex to commercialize sunliquid technology in China

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

Yuan-Sheng Yu, Senior Analyst | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This brings Clariant's licensing agreements to a total of five, including projects in Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Poland, but did not come with any announced project plans. While the second wave of 2G ethanol capacity growth is expected to come online through 2025, China's push for ethanol adoption has primarily focused on 1G ethanol. While a nationwide E10 mandate will undoubtedly boost demand in China, Clariant's plans for China are similar to previous announcements by companies – DuPont, Poet-DSM, Enerkem, Beta Renewables – that never panned out. Those interested should view this as a sign of China being a high-potential market, but Clariant will likely need to show success in ramping up its first commercial facility before any construction begins.

Ralph Lauren invests in Natural Fiber Welding

14215-thumb-squareTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"While Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) has emphasized its alternative leather material development over the past few years, this partnership with Ralph Lauren (RL) indicates that there is still interest and potential in the company's fiber platform. When we last spoke to NFW in 2019, the company stated that it did not plan to scale up its fiber platform, as it was focused on improving the tunability of its material. However, RL's minority investment in NFW will help the company scale its fiber welding platform and further product development in performance apparel. Companies interested in natural fibers, recycled cotton fabrics, or alternative leather materials should reach out for material samples."

Pheronym's dispersant patent brings it closer to nematode leaders

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

"Pheronym takes a different approach to nematode dispersion compared to its competitors like Bionema (Nemaspreader wetting agent). The company's Nemastim pheromone, which remains under development for scalability, increases nematode movement and infection rate in both Steinernema feltiae and S. carpocapsae. These nematodes are capable of broad insect control. While Pheronym's continued challenge remains scalable production of all of its active nematode pheromone agents, improving the efficacy of existing bio-based pest control measures is a key performance metric that should not be discounted. Companies must continue to assess Pheronym's potential to achieve scalability but seriously consider the broad applicability of the adjunctive agent."

Apple's acquisition of VR communication platform Spaces hints at upcoming VR hardware release

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Apple extended its 
work-from-home policy until 2021 and bought Fleetsmith to help with remote hardware management and onboarding. The acquisition of Spaces – a collaboration platform like Zoom but in VR – is unlikely to make the use of built-in avatars and overall remote work more fun and productive (the company's products already provide all it takes to work from home). Adopting Spaces' platform is likely a sign of an upcoming VR hardware release, which, among many functions, should offer no less than what Facebook is after – social, immersive, and engaging experiences. While the tech giant could have developed such tools in-house, the time pressure to lead in innovation and competition is likely a factor behind the purchase."

 

 
 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Press Release: Organizations Must Capitalize on the Next Wave of China’s Innovations, Says Lux Research

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up August 21, 2020

- Blog: The Impact of a "Reverse Radical" Recovery on Innovation

- Executive Summary: Beyond Made in China 2025: China’s Move up the Global Innovation Value Chain

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