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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up July 16, 2021

Lux Research
July 16, 2021

Every day our researchers read through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions on important developments 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 past week below. 

Mitsui Chemicals partners with Hitachi to develop monomers using deep learning

Xiao Zhong Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux ResearchXiao Zhong, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"While the news is vague on the technical details, the mention of "deep learning" and "generating structures" makes us think they are likely using a generative adversarial network (GAN) to develop monomer structures. Developed by Ian Goodfellow in 2014, GAN has quickly emerged as a useful tool in generating images. Similarly, many pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, BMS) have used GAN to generate small-molecule drug leads, and the same concept could be applied to generate small molecules in the chemical space. While we are not sure whether Mitsui and Hitachi are indeed using GAN on monomer structure generation, we think it is a niche area. Chemical companies should evaluate the technology (Lux can help) or at least put it on the radar."

VTT's continuous mycelium leather technology is a potential disruptor

Tiffany Hua, Senior Research Associate, Lux Research

Tiffany Hua, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre announced its continuous mycelium leather material technology that utilizes a liquid fermentation process, which the institute hopes it can scale to commercial levels. The technique allows the scientist to produce mycelium at a rate of 1 meter per minute, which can be adapted to industrial roll-to-roll production methods. The material is still in development, with VTT still working to improve the tear strength and abrasion resistance. Companies should closely monitor VTT's technology, as it has the potential to scale up faster and more economically given that it avoids the limitations of mycelium cultivation that restrict the scale of MycoWorks and Bolt Threads' materials."

Novo Nordisk looks beyond diabetes in its most recent therapeutic program acquisition

Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux ResearchNardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Novo Nordisk has mostly focused on diabetes care. Hence, this latest acquisition for the treatment of a rare heart disease known as ATTR cardiomyopathy seems out of character. However, the company has been building a pipeline of drug assets in the rare diseases category, starting with hemophilia and growth disorders. Novo Nordisk is setting itself up to compete in the lucrative rare disease market, which, contrary to popular belief, commands a higher profit margin, owing to shorter clinical development time, R&D incentives, premium pricing, and reduced marketing costs. Companies should monitor this larger trend of interest in the rare diseases market, where partnership opportunities to build an ecosystem of services for patients may arise.

Lux Research - Materials - Newsletter

Key takeaway of "Solving the small data issue for formulations, materials, and processes" presented by Intellegens

XIAO ZHONG, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Xiao Zhong, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Intellegens' CTO, Gareth Conduit, presented a few case studies on how its platform Alchemite can solve cases where data are sparse and noisy. Companies should reach out and validate the company's claim that its algorithms are more computationally efficient than traditional algorithms for small data like Gaussian process regression. Moreover, they can check out the consortium mentioned in the talk, Optimade, which provides access to electronic structure databases to aid in new material design via high-throughput computation. The data are made interoperable by developing a specification for a common REST API. Here is a link to the full webinar."

Turkey's ban on plastic waste imports comes into effect

Kristin Marshall, Analyst, Lux Research

Kristin Marshall, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Operating as Clariant IGL Specialty Chemicals, the JV combines India Glycols' renewable bio-EO derivatives business with Clariant's Industrial & Consumer Specialties business in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. This partnership isn't too surprising given the rise in demand for "eco-friendly" home and personal care products in recent years and that Clariant isn't the first specialty chemicals player to target renewable products from bio-EO. For example, Croda completed a 30,000 tpa bio-EO plant in October 2017, launching a line of renewable nonionic surfactants a year later. However, Clariant was smart to partner with an established player in the EO space, especially given Croda's production challenges in recent years."

Duke University finds big differences in nutritional value of meat and meat substitutes

Arnold Bos, Managing Director, Consulting, Lux Research

Arnold Bos, Managing Director, Consulting
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Duke University published a study comparing 18 beef patties and 18 beef substitutes. While the bulk nutritional labels were comparable, the researchers focused on differences in the compounds produced following metabolism. Of the 190 metabolites the researchers measured, 171 were substantially different between the two groups. Beef was rich in creatine, glucosamine, and omega-3 fatty acid DHA, while substitutes had more phytosterols and phenols. All of these compounds are linked to beneficial effects on health. While meat and its substitutes are not nutritionally interchangeable, that doesn't mean one is better than the other. Companies, there is an opportunity for novel ingredients to close the gap to meat parity on the nutritional value."

Agrifood Newsletter

Tour de France will be available in digital and augmented forms

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"A.S.O., organizer of the Tour de France, partnered with NTT to provide a digital twin of the race as well as develop volumetric, augmented experiences with real-time analytics and insights for remote and virtual viewers. The news indicates the maturity and scalability of 3D scanning technologies, at least at the precision required by sports fans. A large amount of data collected from numerous cameras and sensors worn by the riders will let viewers visualize tracks and view directions on demand. While broadcasting sporting events to deliver a customized and augmented viewing experience is a market entry point for this technology suite, look for expansion to events sensitive to volumetric perception, such as fashion and apparel."

Desktop Metal acquires Aerosint, its fourth acquisition in 2021

Tugce Uslu, Analyst, Lux ResearchTugce Uslu, PDEng, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Desktop Metal (DM) announced the Aerosint acquisition shortly after acquiring EnvisionTEC, Adaptive3D, and Forust. Lux Research has expected this move from DM, as it has been aggressively expanding its product portfolio. It continues to burn all its SPAC funding on acquisitions rather than focusing on its own technology. After entering into polymer and wood 3DP, with the Aerosint acquisition, it will pursue powder bed-based 3DP sales as well. The acquired companies have strong technological differentiation with little market penetration (except EnvisionTEC, which is a well-established 3DP developer). Through the merger, Aerosint will be able to further develop its technology and reach a wider clientele thanks to DM's existing relationships." 

B2B agrifood platform Tridge ends $60 million Series C to expand its fulfillment services

Jamie Grippi, Senior Research Associate, Lux ResearchJamie Grippi, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Huntington's disease (HD) is a slow and fatal neurodegenerative disease with no cure in sight. HD is caused by a mutation in the Huntingtin gene. This also makes it the perfect candidate to address with gene therapy. However, an unsolved challenge was how to measure therapeutic efficacy before the presentation of symptoms, by which time, it is already too late to treat. Here, the researchers developed a noninvasive way to track efficacy, called inflow-based vascular-space-occupancy (iVASO) MRI. Companies, while this is an early-stage study in mice, and more data will be needed in human studies, the digital biomarker opportunity goes beyond consumer health to tracking clinical efficacy in pre-symptomatic stages of potentially fatal diseases."

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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