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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 11, 2021

Lux Research
June 11, 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.

Amazon takes page from Walmart's $6 prescription playbook, tapping into uninsured market and undercutting digital pharmacy competition

Danielle Bradnan, Analyst at Lux ResearchDanielle Bradnan, Analyst
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive


"Mirroring Walmart's paradigm-shifting generic drug plan from 2006, Amazon is offering generic prescription refills at $6 for a six-month supply for qualifying prescriptions when paid for without an insurance policy. This accomplishes three goals: 1) It attracts consumers who don't have or don't want to use their insurance, ultimately cutting out the payer middle man from the transaction; 2) it wildly undercuts the digital pharmacy landscape pricing – which will likely decimate the competition; and 3) if successful, it will be a clear bellwether of the appeal of consumer-as-payer health products and services. Companies should see this as the beginning of a sea change in consumer healthcare expectations and plan accordingly."

Diagnosing cancers using electronic noses, while getting closer, still faces challenges

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated using electronic noses to diagnose cancers that are usually difficult to detect. The e-noses leverage gas sensor arrays and AI to analyze the pattern of volatile organic compounds emitted from blood samples. The results are based on recognizing the odor patterns linked to cancers. The work illustrates the potential of using electronic noses as future diagnostic devices. In the meantime, there are two challenges that clients need to be aware of: 1) AI needs extensive training to be able to exclude the influence of age, gender, race, and other individual medical conditions, and 2) sensor technologies will need to show repeatable results so as to meet regulatory requirements."

Fashion gets digital tracker tags to increase transparency and circularity

drishti masandDrishti Masand, Analyst | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The fashion industry's latest partnership between EON, a product cloud platform, and apparel company Pangaia is significant, as it is the first commercial venture for piloting the digital ID protocol. EON's technology encodes product data like origin and fiber composition, which can be used for traceability across the value chain. The most significant source of hesitance across the industry has been waiting for a commonly agreed-upon protocol for digital trackers across the supply chain to help enable textile recyclers to successfully recycle or upcycle garments. Those interested should monitor these digital tracker technologies for proof of concept or engage by forming a consortium to select and pilot a digital tracking system collectively."

Download the EV Inflection Tracker Executive Summary

PTT forms joint venture with Foxconn to manufacture electric vehicles

Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson, Research Director
Lux Take: Very Important


"
Southeast Asia has been one of the slowest regions to adopt electrified transportation due to few available models of electric vehicles, limited infrastructure, and a more price-sensitive market compared to other regions. Activity in the region is now picking up, and the announcement that Thailand's largest corporate entity would partner with Foxconn to leverage its electric vehicle platform will no doubt accelerate electrification of the region. Companies should watch for further announcements from the two companies on charging infrastructure and timelines for operating in the region, as none were provided, but they are important for understanding the pace of adoption in the region."

Sumitomo looks to Ginkgo Bioworks for optimized bio-based manufacturing of agrichemicals

Haslun, JoshJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Research Director
Lux Take: Very Important


"Instead of working to develop biologicals, which is par for the course for agrichemical players, the pair will leverage Ginkgo's organism engineering capabilities to develop biomanufacturing methods for both new and existing products. The goal is to identify opportunities to reduce reliance on the petrochemical supply chain, thereby reducing climate and environmental impacts while continuing to satisfy demand. Sumitomo already has access to fermentation infrastructure through its Valent Biosciences subsidiary, and it also invested in Conagen in 2020 with a similar goal in mind. These paired moves may mean that rapid expansion into the bio-based economy requires more than one bet, and you should also consider the cell-free option."

CATL to begin production of sodium-ion batteries

Chloe HerreraChloe Herrera, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"
In a move to diversify its battery product portfolio, CATL will begin manufacturing Na-ion batteries in July. This is the first time a major cell manufacturer has bet on the chemistry. Na-ion has a lower bill of materials than Li-ion; it can be transported safely at 0 V and meets many of the same performance requirements that Li-ion has for stationary storage. Faradion is a leader in the startup space and has announced deployments of its technology in Australia and India for both stationary storage and mobility applications. Those interested should anticipate CATL tapping into a reliable market in China considering the country's massive demand for short-duration energy storage and industrywide concerns over material shortages for Li-ion batteries."

Babylon Health's acquisition of a physician group ensures continued reimbursements

Danielle Bradnan, Analyst at Lux ResearchDanielle Bradnan, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Telehealth has represented big business during the COVID-19 pandemic, and U.K.-based Babylon Health is no exception. As temporary extensions for telehealth coverage expire in the U.S., Babylon will need to double down on human-provided telehealth services (as opposed to chatbots and mHealth tools) in order to maintain revenue. Having access to a pool of physicians in the U.S. allows the company to tap further into Medicaid and Medicare – which both require in-human support for telehealth reimbursement. This acquisition is particularly important as a U.S. West Coast acquisition, as the region lacks the stiff competition of the East Coast's Teladoc Health and Amwell, allowing them to grow a foothold before they lose the chance."

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Qore, a new JV between Cargill and Helm, to build $300 million commercial bio-BDO facility using Genomatica's BDO technology

Tiffany Hua, Senior Research Associate, Lux Research

Tiffany Hua, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Qore's plant will be the second commercial bio-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) facility using Genomatica's technology, adding to the 40,000 tpa produced by Novamont for its family of biodegradable and compostable bioplastics. Qore's expected 65,000 tpa plant will be located at Cargill's campus in Eddyville, Iowa, and is expected to be operational in 2024. The company will position its bio-BDO for products like spandex and urethane applications in the apparel, electronics, and automotive industries. Sports apparel and athleisure are large markets moving toward more sustainable materials where a majority of spandex and elastane materials are still petrochemical-based. Thus, its bio-BDO, branded Qira, will not have a hard time finding adoption."

Itamar Medical adds new features to lineup of sleep apnea diagnostic tests

Anshul Gupte, Research AssociateAnshul Gupte, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Itamar is a medical device company that develops WatchPAT, a wearable system that aids in the diagnosis of sleep apnea. The company announced two features that utilize its mHealth app, SleepPath, and WatchPAT ONE-M. SleepPath is a feature that adds self-reported patient data to the user's experience before and after testing, while ONE-M enables physicians to follow up with patients during testing and order more tests as necessary. By adding qualitative data to the sleep report through patient engagement, Itamar can provide a more comprehensive overview of sleep health. Those interested in the sleep health space should take note of this development."

JAC launches two swapping-enabled BEVs in China with a focus on taxis

Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson, Research Director
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Though the company is the manufacturing partner of Nio, an early pioneer in battery swapping networks supporting nonfleet vehicles, JAC's models will be sold into the taxi market. Unlike Nio's current vehicles, JAC's will be powered by smaller 44.5 kWh battery packs using LFP cathodes, but they will likely use stations similar to those of Nio and other swapping networks, as earlier this year, the Chinese government put standards in place regarding safety, inspection, and operation of battery swapping stations. Companies should take note of this announcement, as now Nio, BAIC BJEV, Geely, and SAIC/Roewe all make swapping-enabled vehicles, and expect more announcements to follow from other automakers."

South Korean city targets carbon zero with VPP platform

Michael SullivanMichael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Ulsan, a port city in southern South Korea, in partnership with SK Gas and the Korean Institute of Technology, plans to deploy a data platform for a distributed energy management system (DERMS) enabling a virtual power plant (VPP), among other functions, in a $5.7 million project by 2023. Connecting distributed power plants, the platform will provide real-time operational data matched with predicted energy output requirements based on weather and usage patterns. The project is likely coupled with SK Gas' multibillion-dollar hydrogen infrastructure being deployed in the city. Suppliers can take advantage of carbon-free initiatives like South Korea's and consider diversifying in energy generation and energy management services."

Making Sense of Sustainability

Alibaba invests in a Southeast Asia retailer, fueling e-commerce growth in the geographic market

Jerrold WangJerrold Wang, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"An Alibaba-led consortium will invest $400 million to acquire a 5.5% stake in The CrownX, Vietnam's biggest retailer, which was formed via a merger of Vingroup's retail units and Masan Group's food and beverage unit. As part of the deal, the Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Lazada will help empower The CrownX’s capability to serve online orders. E-commerce in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries will see rapid growth due to the countries' e-commerce initiatives and the increasingly fierce competition among leading platforms like Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon. Agrifood and CPG companies should expect the impact of rising e-commerce on the geographic supply chain and quickly adjust distribution channels in the local market."

Google reveals AI-enabled dermatology screening assistant

Anshul Gupte, Research AssociateAnshul Gupte, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The assistant is formatted as a web-based application, which aims to help users find answers about skin conditions and diseases. The tool works by uploading photos onto the platform, which then provides information and suggestions on matching cases. Google previously published a Nature article that demonstrated the AI platform to be as accurate as a dermatologist at detecting 26 different skin conditions. The company currently has an EU CE mark for the tool as a Class 1 medical device, although it is not yet available in the U.S. Clients interested in skin care should take a look at the possible ways pairing or developing these types of at-home screening tools could add value to their own line of products."

Unilever and Pulpex announce commercialization plans to replace laundry detergent packaging

drishti masandDrishti Masand, Analyst | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore


"Pulpex and Unilever plan to roll out a prototype of their paper bottle for laundry detergent packaging by early 2022, starting in Brazil and expanding to other regions. The companies are likely sourcing the paper material from Brazil, so it would be cheaper and easier to do the pilot test there. This is not the first commercialization plan announced by Pulpex, with no further progress on previous plans. Pulpex is quick to form and announce multiple partnerships with new players and plan pilot rollouts but is still staying vague on its technology and design. Those interested can monitor Pulpex's progress but should anticipate disappointment, as paper bottles have made no real progress in the past decade and are unlikely to in the next few years."

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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