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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up February 26, 2021

Lux Research
February 26, 2021

Each day our researchers comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert analysis on important developments, events, trends, and industry news. Our analysts then evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

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

Natural Fiber Welding scores investment from Allbirds, plans to launch shoe products in December

Tiffany HuaTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Earlier this month, Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) announced the expansion of its Mirium production facility, where part of the capacity expansion will be allocated for its partnership with Allbirds. NFW is establishing itself as the leader in the alternative leather space, where the company's sustainable performance materials have landed it strong partnerships with notable brands including Allbirds and Porsche (previously in 2020, NFW validated the performance of its Mirium material on a Taycan door with Porsche). Given the company's upcoming production expansion, it is an opportune time for those in the apparel industry to reach out if interested in Clarus or Mirium for product applications in the next several years."

Total aims for 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2040

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150px

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


"Total is expected to surpass companies like Iberdrola and Ørsted in total installed renewable energy capacity over the next two decades. While its proposed name change to TotalEnergies is a branding move to disassociate itself from its oil and gas roots, the company has made significant strategic decisions over the past several years in evolving its business. The company continues to aggressively ramp up its decarbonization efforts, setting a net-zero emissions target for 2050 that includes Scope 3 emissions of its energy products. As oil majors continue to respond to the crises caused by COVID-19, we expect significant divestments of existing assets and a potential major acquisition in the renewable energy space this year."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research


Battery fires prompt expensive recall of 81,701 Hyundai electric vehicles

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


"The initial root cause of the failure is disputed, with Hyundai claiming a defect in the cathode tab and LG Energy Solutions claiming it was a battery management system design error. This is a particularly impactful failure, as more than 80,000 vehicles now need their batteries replaced, which at an assumed cost of $150/kWh and average pack size of 60 kWh would result in a $720 million battery price tag for the recall. Companies should continue to expect safety concerns to grow for automakers, as failures can not only be a large financial liability but also run afoul of regulators placing increasing scrutiny on battery fires."

Anuvia's $103 million Series C indicates importance of scalability and agility for innovative crop nutrition

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Co-led by TPG ART and Pontifax AgTech, the round included participation from Generate and Piva Capital. Anuvia treats organic waste from food and agricultural processing to produce a slow-release granular fertilizer called SymTRX. With the funding, Anuvia will expand its product portfolio and increase production capacity (current 1.2 million tons annually), which will be favorable for Mosaic's licensing of the tech for Susterra. The company claims that SymTRX can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from crop production by up to 32% compared to conventional fertilizers. Companies, Anuvia will scale this product, but its first iteration should be considered a potential alternative for P2O5 additions. Look for co-development opportunities."

Facebook's rumored smartwatch will have impact on multiple B2C segments

Jerrold Wang, AnalystJerrold Wang, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Even if the rumor became truth, the success of the Facebook smartwatch is uncertain, given the questionable performance of its launched healthcare services (like Preventive Health) and its tainted record on privacy protection. However, this smartwatch is still worth your attention due to its potential to impact on businesses. Those providing personal health solutions should see Facebook as a partner candidate, as it plans to connect the smartwatch with health and fitness solutions (like Peloton bikes). CPG companies should see Facebook as a significant data channel for understanding consumers, as it will be able to combine data from its social network, smartwatch, and other devices (like VR headsets) to gain deeper insights."

Vestas becomes a minority investor in timber turbine tower manufacturer Modvion

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"This move is part of Vestas' ambition to cut carbon emissions across its supply chain and is expected to be a first step toward the eventual integration of timber towers in the company's product portfolio. Compared to steel, timber offers a set of qualities (e.g., strength, good fatigue resistance) that make it a viable alternative for high-altitude, more sustainable construction. However, other developers like Timber Tower were unable to see adoption in a conservative industry that is dominated by steel, which has a solid supply and maintenance infrastructure in place. While this investment signals a potential paradigm shift, those interested are advised to remain cautious and regard timber as a long-shot opportunity, at best."

evolving energy story


BMW sources low-carbon "solar aluminum"

Mike Holman Lux Research

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The contract to buy 43,000 MT of aluminum produced by Emirates Global Aluminum using solar electricity – in, ironically, the heart of the oil- and gas-rich Middle East – will help BMW meet its goals for CO2 emissions reduction in its supply chain. The move emphasizes companies' motivation to support climate goals and make use of more sustainable materials, particularly for automotive as electrification trends place more of a spotlight on energy use during vehicle production – and push toward established lightweighting options like aluminum. However, aluminum production is relatively easy to decarbonize, and OEMs will need to push to decarbonize more challenging materials like steel to truly get well ahead of the curve."

FluroSat acquires Dagan, creating Regrow, a service to balance agronomy and sustainable practices in agriculture

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

"Regrow will combine Dagan's experience modeling soil processes, grower management practices, and weather conditions with FluroSat's farm management platform (agronomy, operations, trial management, and benchmarking) to link practices to value. The acquisition leverages existing clients and service integration partners and targets three service areas: agronomy, sustainability benchmarking, and carbon. Companies, consider this key takeaway from this acquisition regarding technology integration: Analysis of sustainability requires well-validated models and superior client-facing platforms. Both parties previously targeted sustainability but missed the mark setting up the acquisition. Be honest and critical about your current capabilities."

EtectRx partners with Pear Therapeutics for drug adherence sensing, reviving the value proposition of augmentation digital therapeutics

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

"EtectRx's partnership with Pear Therapeutics shows renewed promise for smart pill augmentation-type digital therapeutics after Proteus' end last year. While Proteus had potential – evidenced by Otsuka's acquisition of the technology post-bankruptcy – the technology's deployment was doomed from the start. With this partnership, Pear is strengthening the value proposition of digital therapeutics as part of a more holistic treatment ecosystem that can complement more traditional drug therapies on multiple fronts for better outcomes. Sensors clients interested in the more regulated side of healthcare should ignore the negativity around Proteus and consider augmentation-type digital therapeutics as a promising market opportunity."

Covestro to work on quantum computing for catalysis development with German universities

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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


"Covestro is partnering with the University of Mainz and Heidelberg University to investigate catalysis development using quantum computers. The goal is to increase energy efficiency in chemically splitting polymers for new recycling processes in a circular economy. The company will use ion-based quantum computers at Mainz and fermionic quantum simulators at Heidelberg. As Lux has advised in our quantum computing report, companies like Covestro that are bottlenecked by today's supercomputers should be researching the potential of quantum computers before they come into widespread use."

Singapore's Next Gen Foods raises $10 million seed round for scaling its plant-based chicken

10085-thumb-squareThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This is reportedly the world's largest seed round in the plant-based space. Investors include a mix of local ones (Temasek, K3 Ventures, and Singapore's Economic Development Board New Ventures) and foreign ones (i.e., German wholesaler Metro's NX-Food). Next Gen will first be launching a chicken thigh alternative, TiNDLE Thy, in Singapore with Classic Fine Foods. Thereafter, it plans to expand into Europe and the U.S. Clients that can provide sales and distribution channels in those markets should take note."

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USPS almost goes electric with next-gen delivery vehicle

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


"Six years after first soliciting designs for a next-generation mail truck, the U.S. Post Service (USPS) has announced that it selected defense contractor Oshkosh to build its next-generation delivery vehicle. Despite the current Biden administration calling for the national vehicle fleet to transition to electric – which the more than 200,000 USPS vehicles make up a third of – both combustion-engined and electric powertrains will be used. The slow average speeds and high rate of stopping and starting also benefit electric powertrains, and companies should expect a majority of vehicles to use electric powertrains when they enter the fleet in 2023."

Nikola releases hydrogen vehicle plans

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

"The disgraced electric truck maker's latest announcement lays out the company's planned fuel cell vehicle program. The first vehicle will be an FCEV variant of its Tre BEV Cabover with an expected range of up to 500 miles, while its long-range Two FCEV Sleeper will accommodate up to 900 miles in a single trip. While this announcement is similar to last year's, in the sense that the company has yet to deliver a vehicle to market, Nikola appears to be moving in the right direction. Recent 2020 financial results indicate the company is beginning to cut losses while making progress on its manufacturing facilities. Still, clients should note Nikola is behind the curve, as incumbents like Toyota have vehicles on the road with better technology."

Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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