Every day our researchers comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across 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 second week of February below.
A social win: Nike revolutionizes sneaker design
Kristin Marshall, Senior Research Associate | @KMarsh4Bio
Lux Take: Very Important
"Nike has designed a hands-free shoe in response to the challenges many of its customers face. Now anyone, from those with a bad back to a pregnant woman in her third trimester, can effortlessly slip into the new FlyEase shoes. To arrive at the design, Nike engineers reinvented the mechanics of a traditional shoe, involving a bistable hinge that is part of the shoe's outsole. It is easy for consumers and brand owner companies to forget about design enhancement and functionality improvement while improving sustainability. Nike simultaneously launched a new collection focused on sustainability, but the innovative design of the FlyEase is far more exciting. More than the environmental impact, it is the social impact that stands out here."
First commercial flight on synthetic aviation fuel carried out by Shell and KLM in Netherlands
"The announcement was made during an international conference on synthetic sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), which also saw the birth of a new startup called Synkero for a commercial-scale synthetic fuels plant at the Port of Amsterdam. In 2020, Shell produced 500 L of synthetic jet fuel from green hydrogen and CO2 captured from flue gases – the fuel was used in a KLM flight last month, marking the first time an e-fuel was used in a passenger plane. Shell did not announce any formal intentions of building a commercial-scale plant yet, but its large investments in green hydrogen projects suggest it will likely do so in the near future."
Colgate's latest innovation is focused on decreasing plastic use in toothbrushes
Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand
Lux Take: Very Important
"The latest design has an aluminum handle that can be reused indefinitely, with a disposable brush head. The Colgate brush is very similar to a brush designed by startup Goodwell in 2016, which also has a recycled aluminum metal base and bioplastic replaceable head (Goodwell's costs more than twice as much as Colgate's). Niche brands like Goodwell have found an audience of eco-friendly customers but make up a tiny fraction of the market. Colgate can impact the industry more widely, but the LCA, likelihood of adoption, and overall reduction in materials are unknown. The new design seems to meet performance and sustainability improvement in the middle; clients should monitor rollout and overall environmental impact."
Corvus to develop marine fuel cell systems
"Corvus, a leader in marine electrification as a supplier of battery systems, and Toyota, a leader in fuel cell technology, are partnering to develop maritime-specific PEM fuel cell systems. The initiative brings together a network of impressive development partners, including Equinor, shipowners Norled and Wilhelmsen, ship design company LMG Marin, the NCE Maritime CleanTech cluster, and R&D institution University of South-Eastern Norway. Those interested should note that this will help catalyze the market for fuel cell vessels given the involvement of leading zero-emission marine technology developers and their track record of successful projects, as well as Norway's commitment to exclusively sourcing zero-emissions vessels beyond 2030."
South Korea approves $43.2 billion plan to build 8.2 GW offshore wind farm by 2030
"Around 98% of the project will be financed by a group of energy companies that includes Korea Electric Power Corporation, SK Group, and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, while the remaining investment will come from the national government. The 8.2 GW farm will be deployed off the coast of Sinan, in the southwest of the country, and is poised to become one of the world's largest wind farms upon completion in 2030. This ambitious project reaffirms South Korea's ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050 – throughout this transition, clients should expect offshore wind to play a crucial role, particularly floating offshore wind, which has the potential to unlock new land for power generation on the eastern coast of South Korea."
Evonik invests in Chembid to boost digital sales and online customer service
Jerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang
Lux Take: Very Important
"This deal confirms the positive take that Lux recently assigned to Chembid based on its broad chemical information coverage, established user base, and valuable market intelligence. Evonik can strengthen Chembid's features, as it not only makes its digital lab assistant COATINO available on Chembid but also contributes the knowledge gained from operating its digital marketplace, OneTwoChem, to Chembid while discontinuing its own platform. Evonik's move is an example of how chemical companies are aggressively pursuing leadership in digital sales platforms. Those interested should closely monitor how Evonik will leverage Chembid to boost digital sales and online customer service, especially how much access Evonik has to Chembid's data and insight."
CATL to invest $1.86 billion for battery production in China
"The battery producer will build out three new facilities in Guangdong, China. The first phase will build a plant with an annual capacity of 25 GWh for an investment of $1.86 billion. By the end of 2030, CATL plans to install a capacity of up to 150 GWh. This is in addition to the announced 80 GWh of capacity by 2023. As large battery manufacturers continue to announce gargantuan investments in production facilities, companies should take note that it's just as important for these companies to secure a materials supply chain in the face of potential supply gaps."
Toyota and Denso partner with Aurora for autonomous vehicles
Elon Musk partners with XPRIZE for $100 million CO₂ capture competition
"Following his tweet last week that he would donate $100 million to the developer of the "best carbon capture technology," Musk formalized his announcement by partnering with the XPRIZE Foundation to run the competition. The XPRIZE is best known for its NRG COSIA competition, an ongoing initiative where CO2 utilization companies compete for a $20 million prize. The NRG COSIA competition brought CO2 utilization to the global limelight, and competitors include CarbonCure, which has since become one of the most successful companies in the space. Details on the new Carbon Removal competition will be unveiled later, but this initiative will be a huge boost for companies developing carbon-negative technologies like direct air capture."
Future Meat Technologies adds another $26.75 million in funding to commercialize cell-based meat
"This convertible note funding involved existing strategic investors as well as new investors like German dairy company Müller. The company has also managed to significantly bring down the costs of cell-based chicken production. Looking to commercialize by 2022 upon regulatory approval, its first product is a hybrid chicken breast made from cell-based meat and plant proteins. This is in line with Lux's prediction on the commercialization roadmap for cell-based meat. Those interested should note that with growing funding momentum in the space, a number of startups are looking to move to the pilot stage, an important near-term milestone."
FDA starts second phase of pilot program using AI to inspect seafood imports
"The program is part of the FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety. Details were scarce on results from the first phase or plans for the second phase. It appears the focus is on prioritizing those seafood imports that represent the highest risk and should be inspected further, as opposed to making a definitive judgement using AI alone. Nevertheless, this could prove to be a valuable approach in better detecting economically motivated adulteration in seafood, especially for a country like the U.S., which imports up to 94% of its seafood supply."
Researchers develop reprogrammable mechanical metamaterial
"Researchers a the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) developed a magnetically reprogrammable mechanical material using an array of individually switchable bistable elements with high and low compressibility states. While the current 6 × 6 array is limited, a larger array could exhibit metamaterial properties like a negative Poisson's ratio or vibration control, in a way that can be retuned as needed during operation. Companies should monitor metamaterials advances in general, as multiple subfields are beginning to advance rapidly in functional capability and ease of production."