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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up January 15th, 2021

Lux Research
January 15, 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.

Each Friday, we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Our analysts are sharing their thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news. Check out our weekly update for January 15th, 2021 below.

Baidu forms new BEV company, taps Geely for BEV expertise

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

"Baidu has played an active role in developing autonomous vehicles (AVs) and investing in electric vehicle (BEV) startups, but this announcement marks the first time it will sell its own vehicles. The venture, majority owned by Baidu and minority owned by Geely, will focus on using AV technology developed in its Apollo program and build vehicles on Geely's dedicated BEV platform (SEA). Clients should take note of an increase in the tech industry's role in the automotive sector, as it was also announced that Apple is engaging with partners to build a cars, a trend beneficial for automakers with dedicated platforms, and can supply these companies. As connected and autonomous features are more highly valued in China, this venture is promising."

Citrine's new round further suggests Japan's leading interest in materials informatics

XIAO ZHONGXiao Zhong, Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"With the new strategic round backed by Japanese venture capital firm UMICitrine will have more access to partners in the Japanese market. This round further confirms our take: 1) Japan has the most open attitude toward materials informatics (MI). Most Japanese chemicals and materials companies have MI strategies or at least major ongoing projects. Many have formed consortia and/or are working with startups. 2) Most MI startups don't have investors from chemicals corporates, which may suggest that they struggle to get high-level buy-in from them. Regardless of investing or partnering, clients should form a roadmap for incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their R&D, as complete integration will be inevitable."

Lux Research Digital Deep Tech Newsletter

Renault and Plug Power announce hydrogen joint venture plans

chad goldberg

Chad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"The two companies signed an MOU representing the intent to launch a 50-50 joint venture (JV) by the middle of 2021. Notably, the JV is specifically targeting Europe's light commercial vehicle (LCV) market, likely due to the high uptime requirements of the vehicles, which limit the practicality of BEVs due to their relatively slower charging speed. However, clients should note that battery swapping has gained similar momentum in the LCV segment to address that issue, and in China, more than 500 swapping stations have been built. Both technologies still require infrastructure updates and are early-stage, but Lux currently views battery swapping as a more promising near-term opportunity, as there is greater momentum behind BEVs.

Sulfoxaflor will not remain in U.S. markets following federal court ruling

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

"The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2010 re-registration was based on flawed and limited data. Therefore, use will be postponed while the agency determines the effect(s) of sulfoxaflor on endangered species, including pollinators, data also not included but requested in the 2013 approval. Sulfoxaflor is the latest neonicotinoid to be banned in the U.S., bringing the total in the past two years to 13, with many others awaiting re-registration. Products containing the active ingredient were previously used on more than 200 million acres. Innovative alternatives remain critical, as pesticides continue to face legal challenges despite efforts to improve ingredient stewardship."

SkyNRG partners with LanzaTech for 30,000 MTPY alcohol-to-jet commercial facility in Europe

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150pxYuan-Sheng Yu, Director, Research | @808sAndInnovate Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The FLITE consortium will construct a 30,000 MTPY alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) facility in Europe with €20 million in grant funding from the EU Horizon 2020 program. This marks SkyNRG's second commercial project in less than two years, signifying the optimistic outlook for the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry. While HEFA remains the only commercially produced SAF to date, LanzaTech continues to blaze the trail for ATJ, leading the ASTM approval for 50% blending in 2018. While the company still needs to demonstrate commercial production of SAF, SkyNRG will easily be able to secure off-take agreements from its extensive corporate and airline network for all volumes produced."


South Korea is now open for renewable power purchase agreements

Hernandez, JessicaJessica Hernandez, Analyst | @JessHernandezLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will allow energy consumers to purchase renewable electricity through third-party power purchase agreements (PPAs) in an effort to establish a Korean RE100 (K-RE100) system. Previously, South Korean companies weren't able to fully commit to the RE100 movement in their domestic facilities due to the lack of schemes allowing consumers to source 100% renewable electricity. Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) will continue to play a role as an intermediary in the PPA. This is a crucial step that will allow South Korean companies and the country to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050."


France allocates 80 MW for agrivoltaic projects

Seoane da Silva, PatriciaPatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The French Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) allocated a total of 146.2 MW of photovoltaic (PV) capacity across 47 projects, out of which 31 (about 80 MW) comprise agrivoltaic installations. Most of these projects will be located in the South of France, and Sun'Agri will be responsible for the installation of nearly half the allocated agrivoltaic capacity (22 projects totaling 58 MW). This tender reaffirms the institutional support given to agrivoltaics in France. Clients should regard France as a European leader but expect new policies to trigger agrivoltaic developments worldwide."


U.S. Department of Transportation awards $49.6 million worth of grants for intelligent transportation systems

chad goldbergChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grants were established five years ago under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and to date have provided $256 million to more than 45 projects. This year's grants were broadly allocated to projects focused on connected infrastructure intended to support advanced signal control, improved commuter safety, and V2X communication. Programs like this are integral to helping municipalities fund essential infrastructure upgrades, and vendors or supporting technology providers should look to winners of grant funding as potential clients or partners."


Unilever is the first major brand to launch reusable deodorant packaging

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

"'Clean' beauty today is not just about what's in consumers' products but also how products are produced and packaged. Unilever's Dove brand has partnered with A Plastic Planet and Dutch design consultancy VanBerlo to design the palm-sized white refillable stainless steel case and comes housed in white outer packaging made of 100% Forest Stewardship Council-grade paper, reducing the plastic use by 54% from Dove's incumbent deodorant packaging. Dove is the first major brand to launch reusable personal care, but numerous other brands have pledged to transition to 100% recyclable packaging in the years to come; Lux predicts more brands will follow suit this year, and, in time, this "trend" will simply become the norm."


Qualitas Health raises $10 million to expand to the alternative protein market

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

"The round was led by PeakBridge VC and joined by Minrav, Arancia, and other investors. Qualitas Health grows algae in open raceway ponds to produce omega-3 supplements (under the iwi brand). The company will use the funding to further its sales, research, and clinical testing efforts and accelerate the commercialization of a new plant-based protein. Qualitas aims to bring the protein to market by 2022; however, the protein must still undergo regulatory approval and reach the pilot stage, which will take time. Nevertheless, the funding amount is significant for the algae space and should be noted as another recent boost in the development of algae for specialty foods. Clients, Qualitas is on the right path to profit from algae production."


Speedcast launches undifferentiated IoT platform to target both onshore and offshore customers

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Despite Speedcast's partnership with Amazon, which gives it access to AWS IoT Analytics (Lux Take: Positive) for application development, the industrial IoT (IIoT) platform is already at its peak of innovation, and there are plenty of other telecom service providers offering IIoT platforms through similar partnerships – so Speedcast's new platform doesn't seem to offer a unique value proposition. In addition, Speedcast recently emerged from bankruptcy in August 2020, which further adds fuel to the skepticism about the success of this platform. Clients should proceed with caution with this new IIoT platform until differentiation is clear. Meanwhile, there are other horizontal and vertical industrial analytics service providers to consider."

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