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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up July 31, 2020

Lux Research
July 31, 2020

Everyday our analysts comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important industry updates, developments, and trends. Our experts 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 July below.

Uber continues to expand SaaS offerings

Chad Goldberg  Lux ResearchChad Goldberg, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Last week, Uber acquired U.S.-based Routematch, a transportation software company that provides data management, dispatch, trip booking, routing, and payment services for transit and paratransit agencies. The acquisition comes a month after Uber announced its first full SaaS integration with a California transit agency and a day after the company announced its rollout of mobile ticketing services for transit agencies in Kentucky and Ohio. While deal terms were not fully publicized, this is a huge move, as it immediately exposes Uber to Routematch's existing customer base, upward of 500 global transit agencies, providing essential additional revenue and establishing the ride-share company as a serious player in the transit SaaS space."

Telehealth company Hims looks to go public and expand remote mental health services

Danielle BradnanDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Hims is reported to be eyeing a deal that would allow it to go public. Should it do so, the company will be one of a few digital health IPOs to launch in the past year, but it is unique in that it will be approaching the provision of healthcare on a D2C model – not looking for a government subsidy or to work with insurance companies. While D2C in healthcare is notoriously difficult, should Hims meet with success in the market, it will be a sign of change – one with an eye to consumer needs and one that has the potential to unlock price transparency (and invoke price sensitivity). Companies should monitor this development for evidence of success and plan future healthcare strategies accordingly."

Hyperloop receives regulatory clarity in U.S., making it eligible for federal funding

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

"The document broadly outlines how regulators and developers of new transportation technologies should work together in the future and provides clarity on which departments oversee emerging mobility technologies. In our report analyzing Hyperloop technologies, we called out a lack of regulations as a major barrier, and companies should view this announcement – as well as other similar ones, such as HTT's work with TUV on safety guidelines – as an important and necessary step toward commercialization. The announcement also makes Hyperloop projects eligible for federal funding. However, the announcement does not change the primary concern around how expensive the systems will be to build and operate."

Geltor raises $91.3 million to expand fermentation-derived collagen applications

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

The Series B funding round was led by CPT Capital, with participation from a number of other previous investors, bringing Geltor's total funding to date to about $116 million. The company will use these funds for scaling up production and expanding applications of its structural protein ingredients like collagen and elastin. Aside from its recent momentum in the cosmetics space, Geltor is also looking to launch ingestible collagen supplements with functional health impacts as well as food and beverage ingredients by 2021, indicating sustained interest in the cellular agriculture space. Companies, synthetic biology and fermentation enable alternative manufacturing methods capable of addressing the evolving needs of consumer-facing businesses."

Heat sensing startup targets COVID-19 applications

Lisheng Gao, Analyst at Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

Butlr, an MIT spinout startup, combines wireless low-power infrared heat sensors and artificial intelligence to track people's movements indoors without violating privacy. The sensors only detect the heat emitted by people to monitor activities. The company uses its IoT platform to analyze human behaviors to come up with solutions for improving operational efficiencies and maintaining social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the company targets customer activity analysis in retail sectors, those interested should be aware that the sensors may be promising for logistic applications, including monitoring and analyzing worker activities and detecting temperature variations." 

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Black soldier fly (BSF) producer Protenga raises $1.6 million seed investment to improve its insect genetics

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

"The investment by Roslin Technologies and Seeds Capital will be used by Protenga to develop its first BSF production facility and support R&D around insect genetics. Roslin Technologies is also working with Protenga to identify insect strains with increased bioconversion characteristics to promote production efficiency. Protenga differentiates itself from other insect producers through its scale-up model; the company is designing a decentralized "Smart Insect Farm" that it claims will solve challenges with production costs. While this approach has been successful in the livestock industry, it can create more opportunities for gaps along the supply chain and a greater deal of dependence on growers. This strategy has both promise and flaws."

Egg-based protein coating preserves fruits and vegetables

Anthony Vicari Analyst at Lux ResearchAnthony Vicari, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Researchers at Rice University have developed an edible, washable coating that can extend the shelf life of ripe fruits and vegetables by as much as 11 days. The coating, based on egg albumin protein and cellulose nanocrystals and applied in a micron-thick layer by spray or dip coating, exhibits hydrophobic and oxygen barrier effects while reducing bacterial growth. While the current coating is derived from animal protein, the researchers claim to be developing plant- and waste-derived versions as well. The shelf life increase the coating provides seems comparable to the claims of competitor Apeel Sciences but without the need to vary the coating based on the region or type of produce."


Diversey joins localization trend with disinfectant production in the UAE

Holman, Mike

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

"Following recent news of local production of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks in the UAE, now cleaning products giant Diversey is producing its "accelerated hydrogen peroxide" (AHP)-based disinfectants in the country. Expect the trend toward increased supply chain resiliency to be one of the main impacts in the aftermath of the pandemic. Local production won't be the only solution to ensuring robust supply, but for key health-related products like PPE and disinfectants, as well as pharmaceuticals, it will be a popular one."

Singapore creates noninvasive ventilator for dealing with COVID-19

Danielle BradnanDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Researchers in Singapore have developed a new type of ventilator to act as a bridge treatment before traditional and more invasive endotracheal ventilation. The device features a plastic helmet that allows the patient to breathe in an enriched oxygen mix. Companies that have been supplying sensors to the development of ventilators for the treatment of COVID-19 should monitor this device for deployment in real life, as it may represent a new potential product sales channel."

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ertamina's recent renewable diesel production is a "breakthrough" for the country's biofuels industry, not a technological advancement

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150px

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

"Renewable diesel has been the fastest-growing advanced biofuel for nearly a decade, with global capacity to reach 4.8 BGY by 2025. Pertamina announcing a "breakthrough" is no technological feat but instead a shift in the country's biofuels industry away from FAME biodiesel. As the EU voted to ban palm oil, Indonesia has been scrambling to find new applications for its palm oil supplyImplentation of a B30 mandate was more of a band-aid than a solution, with President Jokowi pledging for B50 by the end of this year. However, renewable diesel was the actual solution, and the involvement of NOC Pertamina is a key step, as the country has the potential to replicate Brazil's success of a domestic biofuel industry with renewable diesel instead."

Plug and Play launches agrifood tech accelerator in Thailand

Thomas HayesThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The program will encompass a number of areas, including digital and sustainable farming, feed and animal health, food processing, microbiome, personalized nutrition, supply chain logistics, waste reduction, and consumer analytics and retail. This is the second agrifood tech accelerator to launch in Thailand within the past year, with Space-F launching in July 2019. Both programs have areas of overlap, but Plug and Play has an added emphasis on agricultural innovations. As Asia faces unique agricultural challenges, companies should look to monitor and/or engage with homegrown solutions that align with those challenges while keeping focus on food security, safety, and transparency as the most pressing unmet needs for agrifood in the region."

Braskem partners with Titan Robotics to launch its 3D-printable polypropylene pellet

XIAO ZHONGXiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The pellet-based polypropylene (PP) developed by Braskem is specifically engineered for Titan's Atlas line of dual extrusion 3D printers. In terms of applications, this material is designed for large-format production, such as the production of automotive parts and packaging. As we have previously pointed out, multinational chemical companies (such as BASF, Clariant, Covestro, DSM, Evonik, Henkel, Huntsman, Lubrizol, Mitsubishi Chemical, and Solvay) lead the 3D printing material innovation through the launch of their 3D printable materials, acquisitions, and/or partnership. That said, Braskem's partnership is unique in the sense that it targets pellet-form 3D Printing, which is suitable for higher-speed, lower-grade applications."

Researchers developed privacy-preserving AI model that can obfuscate attributes like gender from voice recordings

Jerrold Wang, Analyst at Lux ResearchJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology and Research Institutes of Sweden proposed a model that can filter voice attributes like gender from a voice recording and add synthetic attributes using a generative adversarial network to form new audio that has the same intonation and content as the original recording. The model modifies voice attributes but keeps intonation and content, so it can protect some user privacy while enabling voice recognition. However, those interested should be cautious about the model's application potential. First, it's unclear whether the model undermines voice recognition accuracy. Second, given that the model will change voice attributes, it may not be able to serve voice biometric authentication."

TripleO seeks new markets as aerospace sales dry up

Anthony Vicari Analyst at Lux ResearchAnthony Vicari, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Lux recently spoke with Paul Booker, CEO and founder of anti-drag coating manufacturer tripleO. Due to ongoing financial losses in the airline industry, sales of tripleO's coatings have essentially ceased since January. For tripleO, the situation is similar to the losses it incurred in 2015 due to declining oil prices, but since then, Paul said the company has been developing longer-lasting versions of its coating for wind turbine applications. In addition, because the company relies entirely on contract coaters, it has very little overhead when sales are low. Expect tripleO to be ready to launch back into commercialization in aerospace, and wind as well, once the current crisis fades."

It's too early to get excited about the COVID-19 viral sensors for in situ air monitoring

Lisheng Gao, Analyst at Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Researchers from Northeastern University are working on electrochemical gas sensors to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The core sensing elements are materials imprinted with cavities having the same shape and size as the crownlike structure of proteins of the virus. The sensors capture the viral particles from the air, and then the materials react with the proteins and generate the electrical signal indicating the virus's existence. While an exciting development, several issues need to be addressed – the virus would need to be present in high concentrations, and the sensors need extremely high SARS-CoV-2 sensitivity and specificity. Those interested should hold their optimism on these viral sensors and be aware that they may take years to validate."

Shape develops tooling and parts for composite steering wheel

Gee, Cecilia

Cecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore

"Shape claims to specialize in precision composite machined tooling, patterns, foams, and jigs; it uses CMS Ares and CMS Antares five-axis machining centers to create carbon fiber molds made of epoxy, metallic molds, and tooling block molds. However, Shape uses conventional CNC cutting and is not differentiated from existing methods. This recent announcement instead illustrates that Shape offers turnkey solutions for composite parts, but cost savings, if any, are not obvious.

Manufacturing makes up the bulk of the price of a finished CFRP part, and decreasing tooling cost and time can be a key method in making CFRP more affordable. Companies should monitor for other news that offers a stronger impact on composite manufacturing."






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- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up July 17, 2020

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