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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up December 6, 2019

Lux Research
December 6, 2019

Every week our analysts gather the biggest headlines and trends and provide their analysis on major industry developments in the news. Our researchers evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore. Check out our thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news and trends across all industries below.

Each Friday we will highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week

GM and LG Chem form joint venture to build 30 GWh battery manufacturing plant in U.S.

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

The location and size of the announcement are unsurprising: 30 GWh is roughly the size of other large battery manufacturing facilities, and citing it near vehicle assembly reduces transportation costs. What is significant about the announcement is that GM is forming a joint venture with a supplier and owning a share of battery production. Competitors Nissan divested in their cell manufacturing ownership, and most other OEMs will make their own pack but purchase cells from suppliers, while VW is pursuing cell manufacturing through a low-risk engagement with startup Northvolt. Automakers may want more control over their supply chain and differentiation, and companies should not be surprised if more OEMs take larger ownership of cell production."

New York Power Authority installs sensors to monitor the health and performance of its power grids

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"In a move toward digitalized management, NYPA is installing hundreds of asset health monitoring sensors to monitor its electric power networks. The sensors capture temperature, power load, and vibration data. Sensors monitoring leakage current and breaker contact wear will also be added. Managing large power networks is challenging and costly in terms of labor and equipment. Adopting sensor networks enables the collection of more data to achieve better management and reduce operating costs. Companies should engage; there are 49 more states and other countries that don't have such digitization, making for a large potential market. Additionally, similar projects can be good use cases for magnetic induction energy-harvesting sensors."

Merck makes inroads into Chinese healthcare market in a strategic tie-up with China's largest healthcare player Ping An Good Doctor

13275-thumb-square (1)Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Analyst | @Nardev_R Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The partnership will leverage Ping An Good Doctor's healthcare platform and rely on its unique service model of combining health IoT with AI and more than 1,000 in-house physicians with Merck's strong suite of personalized medicines. This isn't Merck's first partnership with a major local Chinese company. Last year, it inked a partnership with Alibaba Health to provide Chinese patients with better access to patient-centric healthcare services. We've highlighted previously how it's critical to find strong local partners to access large Asian markets like India and China. Merck is poised for success in penetrating the world's largest Asian market with its offerings, having partnered with the world's largest e-commerce and insurance companies."

Kitty Hawk spins out Cora as a joint venture with Boeing

Chloe Holzinger Analyst at Lux ResearchChloe Holzinger, Analyst | @ChloeHolzinger Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

The new joint venture, called Wisk, is mainly comprised of Kitty Hawk's Cora development team; it will also include the company's New Zealand branch, formerly known as Zephyr Airworks, now rebranded to Wisk New Zealand. The move is good for the future of the Cora project, as increased access to Boeing's expertise will be crucial for developing the eVTOL. It is not so good for Kitty Hawk, as Cora was by far the company's most promising project. Companies should therefore regard Kitty Hawk with caution and Wisk with some optimism; given Boeing's long history with the U.S. Department of Defense, companies should also watch for any news of Cora being used for military applications, which are much less cost-sensitive than the public market."

Plessey is progressing toward monolithic RGB microLED displays – part 2

13890-thumb-squareVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

High-resolution microLED displays will enable lightweight, high-resolution AR glasses. Several companies like Aledia, Micledi, JBD, and Plessey Semiconductors have been racing to deliver full RGB AR display modules. While blue and green color can be accessed via the variable amount of In in InGaN (the main LED component), incumbent red color typically requires Al and dopants not compatible with the monolithic process (all colors on one GaN wafer). Plessey previously reported its milestone in both green and blue monolithic processes and now claims it has overcome stability issues and managed to use only InGaN materials to achieve red microLED, thus steadily pacing toward monolithic RGB displays and the $1 billion opportunity in AR hardware."

Desktop Metal introduces carbon fiber 3D printer

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

The product is based on a continuous reinforcement fiber 3D printing process dubbed micro-automated fiber replacement (μAFP). The printer uses two print heads, one for thermoplastic and another for laying down tape made from continuous fiber reinforcement materials. Desktop Metal claims printed parts have twice the strength of steel at one-fifth the weight and is targeting applications where lightweighting is critical for performance as well as end-use parts, jigs, and fixtures. How does it compare with Markforged's printers? Without concrete technical data, we can only conclude that μAFP operates more similarly to large-scale industrial automatic fiber placement, while Markforged's technology is more similar to fused filament fabrication."

Dexcom, maker of active glucose monitoring devices, experiences server troubles that hinder critical alerts to patient caretakers

Venkatesh Konanur-1Venkatesh Konanur, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

The issue affected both adults and children that use Dexcom's device to help caretakers monitor their blood glucose levels to provide necessary medication and precautionary measures. While there was no foul play suspected for the breakdown, the incident highlights the need for implementation of edge infrastructure to offload reliance on the back-end servers. As more IoT and digital health devices get deployed, medical device companies like Dexcom should reassess their back-end architecture to include, at the very least, quick device diagnostics at the edge to handle emergency alerts and notify caretakers of issues without reliance on the server (Dexcom this time had to rely on Facebook to notify its customers, which many missed)."

Nutriati's $12.7 million Series C maintains momentum for chickpea protein

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

Led by Manna Tree Partners and joined by previous investor Open Prairie, the Series C increases Nutriati's funding total to $26 million. Nutriati will use the funding to broaden the application of its plant-based ingredients – it plans to launch a chickpea milk by the end of 2019 – and scale production. This news comes shortly after competitors InnovoPro and, most recently, ChickP, also revealed their intentions to enter the plant-based dairy alternatives market. The momentum behind second-generation proteins is real and unavoidable. Companies, chickpeas offer high protein and lower antinutritional factor content than soy; identify players that achieve desirable taste and formulation attributes and are moving toward large-scale production."

Chicago the latest U.S. city to approve congestion tax

Chad Goldberg  Lux Research

Chad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"While cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are studying the effects of a New York-inspired toll system to combat urban congestion, Chicago is specifically targeting ride-hailing companies and users with its pricing plan. Though it's not the first city to implement a ride-hailing-specific tax, it is the first city we've seen attempt to shape ride-hailing behavior with a tiered pricing model that differentiates between shared and single rides, charging more for the latter. Boston is considering a similar tiered model while also extending cost savings to zero-emission vehicles. Companies should expect more cities to implement these fees in a way that benefits both pooled travel and low-emission vehicles."

Nestlé establishes gut microbiome research partnership with University of California, San Diego


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Microbiome analysis is still a very academically heavy innovation area, exhibiting nearly a 14:1 ratio of papers to patents in 2018. This highlights that commercialization is in its infancy and companies need to prioritize high-density regions of leading research organizations like the U.S. when choosing "where" to focus microbiome innovation efforts. Nestlé has selected one of those leading organizations from the U.S. by partnering with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and it is not the first to do so. It is imperative that companies follow suit, whether that be partnering with UCSD or another leading university, especially as evidence mounts on the relationship between the gut microbiome, nutrition, and disease."

CEA developing algorithm to pinpoint power losses of solar farms

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"With margins for solar operators dropping in tandem with feed-in tariffs, researchers at CEA research institute Liten are developing an algorithm to accurately identify losses from photovoltaic (PV) modules, cabling, converters, and additional balance-of-system components. The algorithm, built using in-field measurements of around 20 solar farms, will help operators optimize power production and developers improve levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) calculations. Interest in digitalization continues to grow in the margin-obsessed renewables industry; sensors and analytics companies should realize the value in providing even marginal power improvements to hundreds-of-MW-scale PV plants."

Go-Jek partners with Trans-Cab and expands vehicle offerings

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"Go-Jek will tap a network of more than 3,000 vehicles with Singapore's taxi company Trans-Cab in its new partnership starting this month. In addition, Go-Jek will also begin expanding its vehicle offerings to include larger and luxury vehicles. This is the second partnership for Trans-Cab, having recently partnering with Ryde, a carpooling service. For Go-Jek, having an exclusive agreement with Trans-Cab will be critical as the company continues to ramp up its market reach in Singapore, as it continues to struggle to gain traction against homegrown Grab. While it's only been a year, the outlook for Go-Jek to replicate the success it has in Indonesia is starting to look more difficult, as it is also struggling since entering Thailand."

Formnext: Evonik develops a PMMA-based material for binder jetting in collaboration with Voxeljet

Tugce UsuluTugce Uslu, PDEng, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance

Prior to Formnext, Evonik announced it had developed a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) material for Voxeljet's large-format binder jetting-based 3D printer. According to Evonik, this material shows better mechanical properties than existing binder jetting materials. Evonik aims to use this material for producing large-format industrial parts, but its application areas still have to be identified by the users of this technology."

Ginkgo Bioworks joins the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Circular Economy 100, emphasizing replacing unsustainable manufacturing processes

Gihan Hewage, AnalystHewage, Gihan
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Although much of the hype around the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has revolved around brands moving towards sustainable packaging, the organization's overall goals do include moving away from fossil resources and hazardous chemicals and processes. While Ginkgo could play a role in developing advanced recycling processes, its focus with the EMF is likely to develop bio-based routes to existing products, as in its partnership with Genomatica."



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