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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up February 28, 2020

Lux Research
February 28, 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.

Excitement over clinical study partnering industry giants Johnson & Johnson, Apple, and Best Buy overlooks dangerous data bias

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive

"In contrast to most clinical trials, individuals selected to be a part of the the study are not going to be given Apple Watches but will have the opportunity to purchase one for $49 at Best Buy. While $49 might not seem like much, participants are also required to be iPhone users, a demographic that is traditionally white and has a higher income than other phone brand users. This runs the risk of reinforcing dangerous existing data bias in the largest digital health study ever. Putting a monetary investment requirement on clinical trials sets a dangerous precedent, excluding representation by groups that historically 1) have limited resource capacity to participate and 2) are hard to convince to join these trials to begin with."

TSI launches low-cost air quality sensors to penetrate the market, giving the low-cost AQ sensing market a big player

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"TSI launched low-cost air quality (AQ) sensors that measure PM1, PM2.5, and PM10. The sensors use laser beam particle counters to perform the measurement. The new AQ sensors are designed for outdoor AQ monitoring but can be used in an indoor environment as well. Like many competitors, the company will construct its own interactive AQ map to provide data visualization and insights. The low-cost outdoor air quality sensors help enable block-by-block AQ monitoring to achieve high spatial resolution. Companies interested in installing low-cost AQ sensors should engage for TSI's long-time experience with AQ sensors. However, clients interested in AQ data should monitor the progress of TSI's sensor network and database development."

Tesla opts for LFP over NCA in the Chinese market

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

It is highly unlikely that this choice was influenced by cobalt costs, as Tesla's NCA cathodes use a relatively small amount of cobalt compared to most NMC formulations. Instead, there are several other factors likely driving Tesla's LFP decision. First, doing so will help insulate Tesla against a nickel feedstock shortage, which is an increasingly concerning scenario given rapidly increasing demand. Second, the Chinese BEV market is the largest and most competitive in the world, with dozens of automakers (including a staggering number of Tesla copycats) competing with a diverse array of solutions. Lastly, even with reduced energy density, Tesla expects that its drivetrain efficiency will still allow it to qualify for range subsidies."

Nanoco sues Samsung for QD patent infringment

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

"British QD company Nanoco sued a number of Samsung subsidiaries in a district court in Texas, U.S. (where Samsung operates a chip factory). After a loss of the prospective client and an initial attempt to sell off IP, the company opted for an offensive tactic. It worked with Samsung in the past to jointly develop its technology, but it was left out after Samsung started mass-manufacturing of premium QLED display using a competitor's (Nanosys) QD materials. Companies often challenge each other legally during a recession when cash flows to the company plunge, but for Nanoco, this has already happened. Such a threat to Samsung's LCD business may help the company accelerate its transition and ramp-up of QD-OLED display manufacturing." 

AI chip companies SambaNova and Graphcore raise $250 million and $150 million, respectively, with implications for the broader landscape

12191-thumb-squareCole McCollum, Analyst | @cmccoco Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Following on the heels of Intel's $2 billion acquisition of Habana Labs at the end of 2019, in these latest funding rounds, SambaNova was valued at $2.5 billion, while Graphcore (LuxTake: Positive) was valued at nearly $2 billion itself. These large rounds highlight the opportunity for new AI hardware as AI compute demands continue to rapidly grow as well as the substantial resources needed to bring new AI chip architectures to market. Given this dynamic, companies should expect to see a few large winners here (with SambaNova and Graphcore being strong contenders) but expect significant consolidation among startups as many fail to raise the necessary funding to scale up production and build the supporting developer ecosystems."

NewLeaf Symbiotics raises $20 million to expand its product commercialization efforts

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

"The round included participation from Koch Agronomic Holdings, Leaps by Bayer, Otter Capital, S2G Ventures, and RockPort Capital. NewLeaf now moves forward from development to commercialization, supported by new leadership as Steve Kahn takes the CEO position. The company claims to have applied the tech to several hundred thousand acres, with interest in taking a novel step for N fixation toward specialty and vegetable crops. The funding also brings NewLeaf closer to Joyn Bio as the pair look to co-develop N fixation products. Companies, while this funding is smaller than NewLeaf's Series C, its momentum and that of its competitors brings microbial products closer to becoming standard practice in achieving crop resilience."

Notpla launches recyclable and home-compostable seaweed-lined cardboard box

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"This coating application is much better suited for Notpla's seaweed technology than the company's edible pods. While this degradable coating made from a largely available biomass source could prove promising, this development is still extremely early-stage, without known oxygen transmission rates or moisture barrier properties or certifications for food contact safety and home composting – Notpla will work with its partner Just Eat to create a proof of concept over the next few months. Companies should closely monitor this trial, as Notpla's technology is promising."

Delta pledges $1 billion to offset 350 million MT of emissions by 2030

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"JetBlue announced its plans to go carbon-neutral on its domestic operations earlier this year, and Delta followed suit by committing $1 billion over the next 10 years. Both airlines acknowledge that the path to carbon neutrality will largely be achieved through carbon offsets and the continued efficiency gains of its airplanes. With a projected 350 million MT over the next decade, each carbon offset would work out to $2.65/MT, which is on the lower end of the price range but not unrealistic. The increasing activity around offsets aligns with IATA's roadmap and is likely to increase over the next 15 years, as commercial-scale biojet fuel production remains limited today but with major projects expected to come online in the next five years."

Major pork producers are eliminating ractopamine in the supply chain, but high growth rates must be maintained

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

Hormel Foods, a major American pork-based food producer, recently announced that after April 1, it will not accept pigs that have been fed or exposed to the feed additive ractopamine. Ractopamine is a growth promoter for swine and is FDA-approved; however, it is banned in about 160 counties, including China. The news is part of a growing trend of major pork producers (e.g., Tyson, JBS USA, Smithfield Foods) eliminating ractopamine from their hog supplies in order to sell to international markets where production is impacted by African swine fever. Companies should recognize that the opportunity for pig producers to explore novel feed additives and therapeutics will be driven by maintaining high growth rates to support continued profitability."

Toyota leads $500 million round for autonomous v"ehicle developer

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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


""With this investment, Toyota deepens its initial partnership with the Chinese autonomous vehicle (AV) company. While $400 million is significant, the auto OEM and Denso previously contributed $667 million to Uber ATG (Uber's AV arm), with up to another $300 million from Toyota alone. Companies should see Toyota's most recent investment as a vote of confidence in but recognize that this isn't the company's only bet. Instead, it's a play for autonomy within the Chinese market specifically.


Avantium sells patent portfolio for bioaromatics and derivatives to TNO

Gihan Hewage, Analyst | @GihanGoesGreen Ico twitterHewage, Gihan
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Although the announcement mentions that the bioaromatics platform was targeted for polymer and coatings applications, out of Avantium's renewable chemistry platforms, it was the earliest-stage and likely the lowest-priority, especially given that it does not tie into Avantium's work with bio-based replacements for PET. On the surface, selling the technology to a research organization like TNO would suggest that the platform still requires significant lab-scale development; TNO's leadership position in Biorizon gives us reason to believe that TNO may look to scale up Avantium's technology over the next five years."





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

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