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

Lux Research
February 21, 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.

Two winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge launch pilot tests in California

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"CupClub and Muuse both have "smart" reusable cup systems to replace and reduce single-use cup waste. The pilot tests will be in local coffee shops in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, U.S. – cities where other reusable cup models are being tested/adopted/piloted. Consumer behavior changes are unreliable, and so these reusable cup models need to establish a proof of concept, more so than other material alternatives. Companies looking for single-use cup alternatives should closely monitor these pilot tests to see if these startups can succeed with a reusable cup model; coffee shops globally have attempted the rental mugs and BYO cup models, but consumer adoption remains low."

Would you like a private 5G network with that? Wireless startup offers one-click network to go with AWS and Azure cloud services 

13815-thumb-squareMichael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Federated Wireless, a U.S. provider using the 3.5 GHz 5G CBRS band, is offering connectivity as a service to companies for private 5G networks. The buyer can click a link to add a private 5G network to their cart in cloud computing marketplaces. Federated then asks for an estimate of the size of the network and provides budget quotes for a one-time setup cost and ongoing monthly fee for running the network. If they choose to buy, Federated will work with equipment and network providers to actually construct and manage the network. Companies interested in private 5G should give the service a try. While having the network built and operated is nontrivial, the service does save companies the cost of securing spectrum and shopping for partners."

Alphabet pulls support for Makani's offshore wind kites

Patricia Seoane da Silva - Lux Research - Research AssociatePatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"This decision comes shortly after Alphabet’s 2019 earnings report, which shows that losses from the Other Bets division that Makani was part of increased from around $3.4 billion in 2018 to just above $4.8 billion in 2019. Likely in response to these results, Google's parent company decided to abandon its efforts to develop Makani's solution, stating that commercialization will take longer than expected. Despite being ahead of competitors (e.g., Ampyx Power) in terms of rated capacity, Makani's airborne wind system is challenged by its complex design (i.e., DC configuration and use of a conductive tether). Companies should be aware of these difficulties and monitor Makani's ongoing collaboration with Shell to set long-term expectations."

Climate Corp. cuts data sharing collaboration with Tillable prior to reaching live status 

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

Climate Corporation discontinued its data sharing partnership with Tillable, planned to go live in the spring of 2020. Tillable sought to enable growers to share Climate's FieldView agriculture data to support land investments. The decision came after growers publicized claims that Tillable solicited them with specific knowledge from FieldView. Evidence supporting this claim is lacking, and Tillable states that any data sharing would have been completely voluntary, but the decision points to weak trust existing in agriculture over data sharing. Companies should take this unfortunate event to heart. Relationships remain key in agriculture, and digital transformation must enable their development through transparency and pain point reduction."

BASF expands its blockchain pilot project to improve circular economy and traceability of recycled plastics to Canada 

Miraj Mainali Lux Research Research AssociateMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

Digital fingerprinting plastic materials and incentivizing manufacturers for using recyclates could be a revolutionary step toward plastic recycling but definitely a challenging venture to pull off. Although it is not clear what kind of taggant BASF is adding to plastics to store digital fingerprints of polymer structures, it seems that taggant has to be re-added after every recycling process in order to carry the updated blockchain record of manufacturers, chemical compositions, and the number of times that plastic has been recycled. In addition, BASF has to supply its scanners to every recycling facility in order to identify the material and update the blockchain record. Companies should monitor this project and wait for further details.

Grab's ongoing Series H round is still going; adds $700 million from Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"Grab's Series H that started in 2018 has now trickled into a new decade with new investor, Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), ready to invest $700 million. The Series H that started with a $3 billion goal in 2018 quickly ballooned to $6.5 billion in Q2 2019 and is one of the most diverse rounds the superapp developer has had to date. While the round started with major investments from Toyota and Hyundai, Grab has quickly looked beyond mobility as it positions itself for the next phase of growth. MUFG's investment will be directly tied to Grab's plans to build out its financial services, such as insurance and loans, in preparation for solidifying itself as a digital-only bank." 

Geek+ enters U.S. market, further establishing itself as a leader in warehouse automation 

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

The company made big news after raising a $150 million round last summer. With more than 200 completed projects and more than 10,000 robots delivered, the company is well into the scale stage of its operations. The company brought on two new executives to lead the Americas operation, bringing in experience from Amazon Robotics (formerly Kiva Systems), Honeywell, and others in the material handling industry. These new hires will be key in acquiring new U.S. based customers. Geek+ benefits from the fact that its robots have some of the lowest prices in the industry, but it's unclear what its pricing strategy in the U.S. will be. Companies should see Geek+ as the leading supplier of warehouse robotics, especially after this latest news."

Portland General Electric's transportation plan sets stage for EV charging infrastructure expansion in Oregon 

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

The number of EVs in Oregon is expected to increase from 30,000 to 100,000 by 2025 and up to 1 million by 2050, requiring vast expansion of charging infrastructure. Specifically, PGE has plans for residential, commercial, and fleet charger rebates and associated demand management programs. PGE will also need to add 500 public Level 2 and DC fast charger public stations by 2025. Furthermore, PGE will look for synergies between its transportation plans (especially on bus electrification) and the 5 MWh of storage it must bring online by 2020. It will also look at vehicle-to-grid (V2G) opportunities. Companies should realize building out this level of charging will almost certainly require adding energy storage to help manage strain on the grid."

DSM set to acquire human milk oligosaccharides producer Glycom for €765 million 

Harini Venkataraman Ph.D. Lux ResearchHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

Through the acquisition, DSM will expand its product offerings related to early-life nutrition by adding human milk oligosaccharide (HMO)-related products to its portfolio. Glycom currently sells two products marketed under the Glycare brand – 2'-fucosyl lactose (2'-FL) and lacto-N-neotetraose – with Nestlé being one of its key customers. DSM joins other big players like Friesland Campina, Jennewein, DuPont, and BASF which have all entered the HMO space through partnerships and acquisitions. Despite this crowded space, leveraging synthetic biology and fermentation to produce complex HMOs beyond 2'-FL, which are hard to synthesize via chemical routes, will be a key opportunity for industry players looking to grow in this space."

U.S. consumer data marketplace UBDI partners with Australian firm Faster Horses for global expansion

Jerrold Wang Lux Research AnalystJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

UBDI helps consumers monetize their data (like financial transactions, social network activities, and wearable measurements) anonymously and offers corporates first-hand data from the consumers qualified for their specific research projects. UBDI has nearly 30,000 consumers and has served corporates from food, beauty, and gaming industries. The partnership will diversify UBDI's consumer base and strengthen its ability to serve global projects. However, UBDI's success is still in a big uncertainty due to competition from multiple similar companies, such as Fysical, Datum, and Aiisma, on factors like consumer base and privacy protection. Those making consumer products should monitor these companies as potential data partners."

Singapore changes its tune on electric vehicles and could be the first to go 100% electric 

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson,  Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"While Lux remains skeptical of most announcements for cities and countries to ban internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, Singapore's announced initiatives could see it be the first country to go all-electric for a few reasons. First and foremost, Singapore's vehicle fleet is quite new, with the average age of a vehicle being just 5.46 years, making the time required to turn over the entire fleet of vehicles much shorter than that of other countries. The country focuses on transportation as a pillar of its Smart Nation initiative, and as a significantly smaller country of 5.5 million, enacting strict regulations and enforcement wouldn't be as challenging as in larger automotive markets."

Single-cell protein is a growing opportunity for Asian markets 

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

Calysseo, a joint venture (JV) between Calysta and Adisseo, will develop and produce Calysta's SCP aquafeed ingredients, branded FeedKind, exclusively for Asian markets. The JV also plans to construct a FeedKind production facility in China that will come online in 2022 and initially produce 20,000 MT of FeedKind protein per year. The facility's full-scale capacity is projected to be 100,000 MT per year. This news has two major takeaways: 1) Feed developers are displaying commitment to the growth of alternative protein industries, and 2) SCP production will quickly grow to support major aquaculture markets. Companies should look for opportunities to engage with SCP, as production will become commercially relevant in the near term."

IBM becomes strategic investor in Cambridge Quantum Computing 

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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

Currently, there's no details about the amount of funding that IBM is providing or what its specific interest is in Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC). Due to IBM's heavy focus on developing quantum hardware, we suspect that it is most interested in CQC's quantum compiler, called t|ket⟩. However, CQC has many other offerings – software for quantum chemistry simulation, quantum machine learning, and quantum cybersecurity. Companies shouldn't assume that the investment is a vote of confidence in CQC's software development but should monitor the new relationship for further details."

Bell signs MOU to explore on-demand air mobility in Japan

Chad Goldberg - Research Associate at Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Ignore

"The new partnership agreement involves Bell, Sumitomo Corporation, and Japan Airlines (JAL) and intends to promote joint policy development, identification of service use cases and pilot programs, and development of necessary infrastructure requirements for a Japanese air taxi service. While an integrated partnership network will be a key component of effective air taxi platform development, these announcements continue to be used to simply spur curiosity and public excitement. Regardless of its track record developing VTOL aircraft, Bell's Nexus air taxi is the least developed among its peers, with only a scale model concept to show at this point. Companies should ignore these types of announcements until vehicles are more developed." 





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