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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up January 29, 2021

Lux Research
January 30, 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 final week of January below.

After lengthy debate and planning, U.K. now takes its first real step toward a hydrogen economy

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

"Everyone interested in the future of hydrogen, and in hydrogen infrastructure in particular, should read the reports from the H21 portfolio of projects. The H21 projects constitute the most detailed and most practical study of the feasibility and planning of converting an entire country's natural gas grid to hydrogen. The country in this case is Britain. No matter how impressive, however, this has still been a paper exercise thus far, even though it does provide excruciatingly detailed calculations of the resources and time required and costs involved. With the announcement of Britain's first hydrogen town in 2030, the U.K. government, at the level of the prime minister, is now taking this a step further and turning it into a real exercise."

Dutch collaboration launches new innovation hub for industrial electrification

Runeel DaliahRuneel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"The new initiative, called Fieldlab Industrial Electrification, is a collaboration between the Port of Rotterdam and TNO, among others. It will be used for the large-scale development of technologies enabling the electrification of the industrial sector for, e.g., industrial heat pumps or power-to-chemicals technologies. Electrification of fossil-powered systems is crucial for the decarbonization of the industrial sector, and this new initiative will help accelerate the scale-up of such technologies."

Beyond Meat and PepsiCo form JV for plant-based snacks and beverages

10085-thumb-squareThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The JV, called "The PLANeT Partnership," underscores how the line between SMEs and large corporations is blurring in the plant proteins space. Clients should expect other plant-based meat companies to diversify their product portfolios into new categories, with Impossible Foods having already taken steps to do this organically. As such companies look to diversify, clients should consider ways to add value and form partnerships similar to that of PepsiCo and Beyond Meat. Doing so is time-sensitive, with plant proteins gaining market momentum at a rapid pace."

Sila Nanotechnologies plans battery materials factory after $590 million investment

Chloe HerreraChloe Herrera, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Sila Nanotechnologies' latest round was led by Coatue and institutional investors. The manufacturing plant will eventually produce enough silicon anode material for a 100 GWh capacity; it is slated to open in 2024 and ramp up production enough to supply materials for BEVs in 2025. Sila Nanotechnologies' silicon nanocomposite materials are designed to be a drop-in replacement for anodes in existing roll-to-roll manufacturing processes. It now has a valuation of $3.3 billion and has secured partnerships with BMW, Daimler, and Amperex Technology Limited. The company notably did not receive significant investment from battery makers or automotive companies, seeming to bet on widespread industry adoption to justify its high valuation.

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Taranis brings aboard SaaS-experienced CEO to drive growth

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

"The change in CEO builds on Taranis' momentum following the decision at the end of 2020 to relocate its headquarters to the corn belt of the U.S. The new CEO, Bar Veinstein, brings to Taranis experience growing a range of SaaS offerings, including those for education and customer experience but not agriculture. Previous CEO Ofir Schlam will remain as the president and an acting board member. Few agtech companies have brought on CEOs without agriculture industry experience, which points to major goals of improving service and rapidly expanding new business development for Taranis. Monitor Taranis' growth as a data point to assess how well general SaaS strategies impact a notoriously interconnected ecosystem of technology and users."

Microsoft leads $2 billion round for Cruise

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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

"In Cruise's latest funding round, Microsoft has joined GM, Honda, and other institutional investors to push the autonomous vehicle (AV) company's valuation to $30 billion. Along with Microsoft's financial investment in Cruise, the AV company and its parent GM will use Azure as their primary cloud partner (though the partnership is nonexclusive). This move makes intuitive sense, with major cloud providers like Google and Amazon already attached to their own AV companies (Waymo and Zoox, respectively). However, with AVs unlikely to surge into use anytime soon, companies should keep their eyes on the use of Azure in GM's other products to see how Cruise might take advantage of Azure in the future."

Trina Solar launches new line of solar trackers tailored for 500+ W modules

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

"The company claims the new trackers increase efficiency by 2% to 8% in modules rated between 550 W and 600 W. Some other features of Trina's trackers include their 2P configuration (which reduces the amount of shade projected by the tracker) and a patent-protected spherical bearing design that improves mechanical stability, thus reducing O&M costs. In addition, these trackers incorporate a proprietary algorithm developed in-house by Trina Solar. This product is among the first to target 500+ W modules and can be a good fit for bifacial architectures, which makes it an interesting solution as far as it matches Trina's claimed performance in optimum locations for solar trackers (i.e., with high levels of direct irradiance)."

3D-printed bookstore in Shanghai shows expanding options for concrete 3D printing of buildings


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

"Tsinghua University researchers created what's billed as the first 3D-printed bookstore, using plastic fiber-reinforced concrete, in the Wisdom Bay Innovation Park, already home to a 3D-printed footbridge. While the significance of creating a bookstore specifically is a bit dubious, it does go to show the breadth of applications that concrete 3D printing is now aiming at, expanding from small homes to uses like army barracks, multistory buildings, and more recently apartment buildings, villassound barriers, office buildings, and more. Most of these projects remain demonstrations, so companies should be cautious about how soon to expect 3D printing of buildings at mass scale but keep an eye on developments in this area."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

Boeing plans for 100% sustainable aviation fuel plans by 2030 but faces uphill battle with ASTM certification

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150px

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

"Boeing announced it will deliver commercial airliners capable of flying on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). While Boeing has made bold claims in the past with its SAF ambitions, such as expediting the ASTM certification for renewable diesel blending, the company has yet to make significant changes. Unlike Airbus, which unveiled its ZEROe hydrogen-powered concept planes for 2035 delivery, Boeing has a more realistic approach to decarbonizing the aviation sector with the increased use of bio-based fuels. However, 100% blending has remained a challenge for the industry, with the catalytic hydrothermolysis (CH) pathway downgraded from 100% to 50% during its ASTM approval in February 2020."

Magic Leap partners with Google Cloud to serve enterprise but most of all to revive media attention

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore

"Magic Leap raised more than $2 billion from many prominent investors, including Google, on the promise of delivering an immersive and unimaginable future. Transforming the pitch deck to hardware and business solutions turned out unimaginably difficult too. After major restructuring, the company pivoted to the enterprise market, which still requires spatial computing and major data infrastructure. Teaming up with Google is a survival move for the startup and a growth opportunity for the IT giant. Google needs Magic Leap to succeed to 1) recover any investment/losses and 2) develop spatial computing solutions based on its Cloud infrastructure – an opportunity that Microsoft Azure and Amazon's AWS have already been exploring for some time."

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