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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up February 5, 2021

Lux Research
February 5, 2021

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 first week of February below.

SpaceX's ride-sharing program offers inexpensive solution for smallsat companies like Planet and Satellogic to launch satellites

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
SpaceX's first dedicated smallsat ride-sharing mission, Transporter-1, deployed 143 satellites into orbit, which is the most ever on a single mission. Among those were 48 SuperDoves from Planet (Lux Take: Strong Positive) that are equipped with improved eight-band multispectral cameras. Similarly, satellite imaging company Satellogic (Lux Take: Wait and See) also announced switching its launch vehicle from Chinese, European, and Russian vehicles to SpaceX's. By using reusable rockets, SpaceX manages to reduce the price fivefold on a per-kilogram basis. Such a discounted price has made SpaceX an unrivaled launch partner that will continue to make satellites more accessible for imaging and communication applications."

Shell complements EV charging business with acquisition of Ubitricity

Hernandez, JessicaJessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Shell announced it will acquire 100% of Ubitricity, which provides on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging by repurposing existing city infrastructure like street lamp posts. Through previous acquisitions, Shell has been opening doors to different markets in which electric mobility plays a role. In 2017, Shell acquired NewMotion to target residential and workspace EV charging; later in 2019, Shell acquired Greenlots to expand into charging network infrastructure management and to support Shell Recharge fast charging stations. With oil and gas giants making moves into the power sector, electric mobility investments and acquisitions by these major corporations not only make sense, they are essential."

ExxonMobil launches ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions; plans to invest $3 billion in carbon capture projects globally by 2025

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150px

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


"Instead of making a net-zero pledge or shifting toward renewable energy like its European oil major counterparts, ExxonMobil is establishing a potentially new "upstream business" by deploying more than 20 CCS projects. Based on the new projects highlighted, the focus will be on pre-combustion CO2 capture, rather than post-combustion, though both remain key to decarbonization. The company will also focus on  storage but may be laying the foundation for becoming a CO2 provider in the future carbon economy, though widespread adoption of CO2 utilization technologies remains more than two decades away. We expect to see record investments in CO2 capture projects in 2021, and ExxonMobil's $3 billion will be the first of many announcements to come."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research


AutoX is the first autonomous vehicle company to provide fully driverless rides to the Chinese public

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
AutoX is now providing autonomous robotaxi rides to the public without safety drivers in Shenzhen. The company is the first to offer such rides to the public in China and follows Waymo, which was the first to offer public rides in October of last year. AutoX has steadily advanced to this milestone by testing with safety drivers in Shanghai and plans to expand to 10 cities globally. Those interested should watch for further announcements from AutoX, especially with regard to the technical metrics it is using to justify its expansion to the public."

Construction begins on Li-ion battery recycling facility in Norway

Chloe HerreraChloe Herrera, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"
Northvolt and Hydro announced JV Hydro Volt in 2020, which will open in 2021 and have a battery processing capacity of 8,000 tons per year. Hydro Volt will be responsible for crushing and sorting batteries. The aluminum will be sent to Hydro, while black mass will be sent to Northvolt. Northvolt's capacity for processing black mass is unknown, and the company may sell it until the technology scales. Commercial-scale hydrometallurgy is often the last and most difficult step in Li-ion battery recycling; however, Northvolt and Hydro's collaboration will benefit both companies by building out battery collection and shredding. Those interested should expect more relationships like this to emerge as companies enter Li-ion battery recycling."

L'Oréal brand Garnier unveils plans for solid shampoo as sustainable alternative

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


"Solid shampoos have been trialed before and are finally breaking out from niche brands and into the mainstream market with the L'Oréal brand. It is likely that L'Oréal observed trends and growth for other brands with this solution and finally decided it was time to enter the market, as more consumers are focused on sustainable solutions for products and packaging alike. A change in product formulation also allows for a change in packaging, with Garnier opting for paper packaging to replace plastic bottles. Those interested should monitor, or follow suit if keen, to adopt sustainable solutions for products consumers are willing to accept new formulation types and packaging for and replace incumbents."

Nature's Way acquires personalized nutrition startup Baze

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


"Terms of the acquisition, which already closed in December 2020, were not disclosed. This comes about a year and a half after Nature's Way led Baze's $6 million Series A round in August 2019. Given that Nature's Way is a supplement manufacturer and Baze focuses on personalized supplements, there is a good strategic fit between the two. Though the pace of moves by CPGs in personalized nutrition slowed down in 2020, this acquisition signals that it could pick up again. Remember that multiple failures have occurred in this space, however, and serve as lessons to guide future decision-making."

Making Sense of Sustainability

Nohbo teams up with Uncountable as it looks to scale its biodegradable materials

457-thumb-square

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

"Most materials informatics (MI) players have targeted large chemical companies, but materials-focused startups can also benefit from data science and artificial intelligence in their R&D – and can have an even greater need for the efficiency and cost savings that MI can bring. Nohbo, a startup that aims to create a line of personal care product formulations in dissolvable pods, is wise to build in a centralized data infrastructure from the beginning. While the deep pockets of established giants like BASF or Sumitomo Chemical are attractive, legacy infrastructure and data silos are major challenges to overcome in realizing impact – MI specialists shouldn't miss the chance to get in on the ground floor with relevant startups like Nohbo."

S&P plans to downgrade oil and gas credit ratings

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., VP, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
Lux Research looked at the return on capital as reported by O&G companies and the average oil price in the same year. Unsurprisingly, the two show a quite strong correlation. The analysis shows that the industry needs an average oil price of at least $60/bbl to justify the current WACC of about 7.5%. In the current crisis, it may take another two years before the average oil price over a year reaches that level again (if at all). Meanwhile, companies are reporting record losses over 2020, and renewable energy investments offer a significantly higher return on capital. S&P's plan makes a lot of sense in that light. It will make it harder for the industry to reduce its WACC, which is what is needed for the industry to pivot to renewables."

World's largest McDonald's franchisee partners with UBQ Materials for sustainable food trays

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


"This partnership will be the first CPG application for UBQ Materials, with 7,200 serving trays introduced to 30 McDonald's restaurants in 20 Brazilian state capitals as a pilot test. The geographical expansion also enables UBQ to establish proof of performance for its materials being effective with different waste streams and feedstocks, which has raised concerns in the past. This is a sustainable solution to using "better" plastics, but there are a lot of unknowns on the overall sustainability of materials like UBQ's in terms of overall LCA, carbon footprint, and waste wastage. Companies should engage to validate materials and consider opportunities to participate in more expansions through joint ventures or other approaches."

NSF awards SBIR grant to Innovasonic for automatic touch screen disinfection

Gee, CeciliaCecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"With this new funding, Innovasonic plans to expand its scope from self-cleaning to disinfecting pathogens, a timely move given the COVID-19 pandemic. If successful, the use of ultrasonic touch screens will enable an automated, nontoxic, nonodorous method of disinfecting surfaces. However, traditional ultrasonic cleaning does not necessarily sterilize objects, as viruses and spores can remain on the surface. Innovasonic will need to offer a product innovation beyond only its core technology to prove the feasibility of the project." 

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