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

Lux Research
February 14, 2020

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.

Schrödinger has IPO and provides a litmus test for chemical and materials informatics (and yes, these two spaces are related)

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

Before the IPO, Schrödinger raised a total of $110 million in capital from prominent investors/institutions including David Shaw and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. The company applies and develops AI and computational tools for drug discovery and started its Materials Science Division in 2012 with the goal of expanding its capability to the materials space. This is the first public company that has its core business in chemical and materials informatics. Its performance can be a good indicator of market faith in these spaces. Interested clients should monitor the company but also be mindful that not all MI startups have the same business model as Schrödinger. Citrine and a few others have built unique data infrastructures."

In line with its peers, BP pledges net-zero emissions by 2050

holly havelHolly Havel, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Following Repsol and Equinor, BP is the next oil major committing to net-zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Similar to Repsol, the company's net-zero pledge also addresses Scope 3 emissions to account for end-use emissions from its oil and gas products, which is an important milestone for the industry as it looks to meet the required carbon intensities set by the Paris Agreement. The press release references methane detection and low carbon investments, but companies should note that BP's broader decarbonization strategy is centered around completely restructuring the organization. BP has struggled to reinvent itself in the past but may find more success as the industry reaches a turning point in the evolving energy transition."

ChargePoint and NATSO form "billion"-dollar partnership to deploy highway EV charging infrastructure

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

"The National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) announced an initiative to deploy chargers at 4,000 travel stops and fueling stations by 2030, with a focus on rural highway routes. The move is overdue and a clear winning strategy; food and drink sales are much more profitable than selling gas, and the relatively longer charge times compared to refueling will likely increase revenues from these items. However, a key detail left out of the billion-dollar project is funding – the companies will seek to raise this funding or leverage public funding, and it is likely no coincidence that this was announced the same day as U.S. legislators announced a bill to fund a dramatic expansion of EV charging infrastructure."

TerraCycle to bring reusable packaging platform, Loop, to retail stores

Gihan Hewage, AnalystHewage, Gihan
Lux Take: Very Important

"As an online-only platform, Loop faced numerous roadblocks for consumers, such as deposits for packaging, $15 shipping costs for orders under $100 (in the U.S.), the inconvenience of shipping back empty containers, and limited product offerings. By bringing the platform to retailers, such as its partners Carrefour, Tesco, Kroger, and Walgreens, TerraCycle will directly address the challenges associated with shipping. More importantly, bringing Loop to retailers will help TerraCycle overcome the logistical challenges with its platform – selling items in stores (and not just relying on retailers' supply chains) allows it to avoid the cost and logistical challenges of having to ship products to and pick up empty containers from consumers."

Newly identified digital biomarker helps identify likelihood of positive response to antidepressant

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"By using a machine learning algorithm to assess EEG data, researchers have identified patterns that predict a patient's response to a specific antidepressant (sertraline). The use of digital biomarkers, such as EEG patterns, for diagnostics and personalized treatment is a growing trend as data analytics uncover previously invisible insights. In the U.S., while biomarkers in and of themselves are not patentable, as part of a diagnostic leading to a specific treatment, there is potential patentability. The discovery of data analytics-based digital biomarkers is more accessible to nontraditional healthcare players – unlocking opportunities for clients to develop proprietary healthcare diagnostics revenue streams."

Markforged introduces copper with 99.8% purity to its metal 3D printing materials portfolio

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

Markforged announced that it validated copper for its Metal X 3D printers.This is important because with more available materials, material extrusion-type printers like Metal X will find more application areas with a low barrier for entry thanks to their low capex. Copper is not a common 3D printing material for other metal 3D printing technologies, including powder bed fusion and directed energy deposition. Although there are some groups which have validated or developing copper printing capability, this capability will give Markforged an edge." 

Latest foldable phone failure points to material innovation needs

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

"Winner takes all" does not apply to flexible displays and the phones made from them. The Samsung Fold has been shown to not withstand mass-market conditions, and many others have also jumped into the race with anticipated product releases. Though only Motorola Razr actually launched on the market in a flexible form factor, it too did not stick around. The latest trial revealed weakness in hinges and display layers, further emphasizing the need for materials innovations in flexible displays. We may see a few more marketing campaigns with shiny flexible phone releases, but this year will be a race to develop the necessary materials to finally bring a flexible display to the mass market for the long haul." 

Differentiating cannabis from hemp with Raman spectroscopy – hype and hurdles

12744-thumb-squareJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

Rather than developing new sensing technologies, Texas A&M researchers repurposed a hand-held Raman spectrometer to differentiate cannabis and hemp varieties. The sensors have gained a foothold in the food and beverage industry, and the research group's results indicate 97% classification accuracy among hemp and different cannabis varieties. The study also highlights significant challenges. Concentration is key; differentiating hemp from cannabis is only beneficial if an accurate THC content is attached. Hemp varieties may produce more than the 0.3% regulated limit dependent on growing conditions, a serious problem without leeway at this point. Companies, this technique is not a dead end, but the evidence does not yet justify the hype."


Indonesia's B30 will likely save the palm oil industry after EU ban

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"Despite the monotony of the biodiesel industry, Indonesia has been scrambling over the past two years in finding a solution for the potential disruption of its palm oil industry after the EU commission voted to ban palm oil-based biodiesel by 2021. In a flurry of activity, Indonesia responded by increasing its mandate up to B25 in 2019, expanding use in rail, mining, and power plants, and completing a nearly two-year test on B30 before implementing the mandate this year. There was even discussion of a B50 mandate this year, but it appears that the country will end up consuming 8.3 million MT of palm oil this year for domestic consumption with potentially limited supply for export."

2019 saw the largest increase in geothermal capacity in the past two decades

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"In 2019, countries around the globe installed 759 MW of geothermal power, topping 2014's total of 750 MW. These additions bring total geothermal capacity to 15.4 GW. Of the top geothermal countries, the U.S. (installed capacity of 3,676 MW, with 23 MW added in 2019), Indonesia (2,133 MW, with 185 MW added in 2019), and the Philippines (1,918 MW total) round out the top three spots, followed by Turkey, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Kenya (with the largest addition by any country of 193.3 MW in 2019), Iceland, and Japan finishing up the top 10. Geothermal has the potential to play a key role in power sector decarbonization, though companies should realize the sector requires new innovations to cut costs and expand into new geographies."

New Zealand signs memorandum of understanding with eVTOL company Wisk

Chad Goldberg  Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Low Importance

"The announcement is strictly a letter of approval that says Wisk, the joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, has New Zealand (NZ) governmental support to operate passenger test pilots in the country's Canterbury region. However, the news of cooperation remains largely unimportant, as the country's civil aviation authority (CAA) has yet to passenger-certify Wisk's two-seater autonomous aircraft. Regardless of hundreds of hours of successful unmanned flights and NZ's favorable drone policies that make it a promising testing ground for such pilots, the company's hope of a four-year timeline to commercialization remains aggressive. Companies should still monitor Wisk's actions and CAA certification status for potential timeline updates."




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