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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 19, 2020

Lux Research
June 19, 2020

Each day our analysts read through major industry headlines and provide their analysis on developments and trends in the news. Our experts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Every Friday we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news, including our researchers' coverage of technologies and strategies as they relate to the global pandemic.

Shrinking consumption across commodities is a stark reminder that it's time to innovate your business model

Olsen, SaraSara Olson, Ph.D., Director, Research @SaraOlsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive


"Sugar consumption is in focus as the most recent commodity to exhibit rapidly falling demand associated with COVID-19 and global lockdowns, but it is by no means an outlier among consumer products and ingredients. Periodic fluctuations in demand are commonplace, but COVID-19 is having once-in-a-generation impacts on consumption that are accelerating the need for CPGs and commodity companies to learn how to do more with less – namely, how to grow their businesses from shrinking top-line sales. Don't wait for sales to miraculously bounce back (they will not), but rather start now to innovate your business model – offer services, diversify products, explore new routes to market – to get ahead of the (falling) demand curve."

Digital therapeutic Proteus files for bankruptcy

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"This has been a long time coming, largely precipitated by problematic partnerships that undermined the entire value proposition of Proteus. The company is now seeking a buyer for its technology – and clients who are interested in engaging with medication adherence should consider snapping up this technology. Medication adherence is a significant challenge across a number of healthcare verticals, including substance abuse, sexual health, chronic disease, and cancer care. Companies will need to avoid the mistakes of the Otsuka partnership, but this is an opportunity to capitalize on a problem estimated to be worth between $100 billion and $289 billion per year for the healthcare industry."

The fast growth and industrial focus of China 5G create opportunities for global players

2908-thumb-squareJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The Chinese government recently stated that 5G base stations deployed in China will increase from 250,000 to 600,000 in H2 2020 and that China is pushing 5G industrial applications (like manufacturing, transportation, and medical treatment) with more than 600 ongoing projects. We believe the increasing base stations signal a strong momentum that resonates with the take from Ericsson's report. Additionally, compared with China's AI, its 5G assigns a heavier weight to industrial applications, which can showcase emerging 5G use cases in clients' industries and provide business opportunities to global players offering advanced solutions for the industrial sector. Companies should closely monitor China's 5G for business development opportunities."

UC Berkeley reports solar, wind, and Li-ion batteries can cost-effectively help U.S. grid reach 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035

TIM GREJTAKTim Grejtak, Analyst | @TheEnergyNerd Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"A study from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 90% of the U.S.'s electricity demand in 2035 can be met cost-effectively by scaling wind, solar, and Li-ion battery storage deployments. The study concludes that $1.7 trillion invested into 1,100 GW of new wind and solar, 150 GW of four-hour storage, and modest increases to transmission capacity would result in a 10% reduction in wholesale electricity prices by 2035, compared to a 20% reduction under business as usual. Companies should see this as another data point that decarbonizing the electricity supply is straightforward in the U.S., but decarbonization of other sectors of the economy or in other countries will be much more challenging."

The dawn of robots in your chemical lab? Yes, it is coming

Xiao Zhong - Lux Research -Xiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"University of Toronto professor and Kebotix co-founder Alán Aspuru-Guzik published an article on thin-film synthesis and characterization using a software-controlled robot. The robot, named Ada, was able to perform all the necessary steps using a rotatable, pneumatically controlled gripper. As seen in a video, Ada's movement is precisely controlled, as it could grip vials, pipettes, and microscope slides and perform spin coating, annealing, and a few measurements. Lab automation in the chemical industry is now in the last few miles before its inflection point. The increasing market push will further drive its progress, especially on software development, data integration, and equipment modularization, which are the main challenges."

NHTSA launches new initiative to create more transparency into autonomous vehicle testing in the U.S.

Kern, JoshJosh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
The voluntary initiative will allow companies and municipalities testing autonomous vehicles (AVs) to upload data to a public-facing online platform to report testing activities. Nine companies, including Waymo, Cruise, Toyota, and Uber, have already announced their involvement. The data shared will include maps of where testing is being conducted, routes, the number of vehicles being tested, and more. So far, the U.S. has not required any national standards for reporting AV testing data. The move by NHTSA is a step in the right direction, but the voluntary nature of data sharing may result in inconsistent levels of data sharing between participants. A move toward required reporting would make the evaluation of AV companies much easier."

Lower water levels on the Rhine threaten logistics for German industry – again

Holman, Mike

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

"Dry conditions in 2018 already led to shipping disruptions, forcing, for instance, BASF to modify operations at its main Ludwigshafen production center, costing an estimated €200 million – and forecasts suggest a risk of similar impact in 2020. As climate change proceeds, companies will need to keep developing adaptation strategies, even to the point of shifting to more distributed production."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

All chemical companies will have an AI department in 10 to 20 years

Xiao Zhong - Lux Research -Xiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Lux recently attended the virtual event "Materials R&D in the Digital Age," which featured a discussion between Alchemy Cloud and Kebotix. Alchemy's CEO, Sasha Novakovich, shared her vision of improving the specialty chemical company's operational efficiency by at least 30% through streamlining its workflow by upgrading the software infrastructure. Kebotix's CEO, Jill Becker, discussed the future of chemical companies – the combination of AI, computing, data, and robotics that enables discovery, development, testing, and manufacturing in one pot. Lux Take: More digital tools like AI will be democratized in the chemical industry in 10 to 20 years. Exponential thinking and venturing spirit are needed in the chemical sector more than ever."

Fitbit's new enterprise offering "Ready for Work" uses symptom checker app and vital signs data to recommend whether an employee can work

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The vital signs monitoring is of particular interest because early evidence suggests that heart rate variability and sleep may indicate an oncoming immune response due to a viral pathogen. However, the research to determine the link between vital signs and COVID-19 has only been going on since March (Fibit's study began in May). Any digital biomarkers used to make recommendations either are from an earlier study based on the flu or are extremely preliminary data, without the scientific review necessary to make recommendations yet. Companies should monitor this development with interest because it represents the first commercialized digital biomarker offering for consumers, but be aware that it is based on early-stage research."

U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) to use Oura ring to monitor for COVID-19

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Like Fitbit, Oura is using its vital signs monitoring capabilities to identify digital biomarkers that indicate the likelihood that a player has COVID-19 and make recommendations as to whether the player can work. While digital biomarkers have been shown to identify viral conditions like the flu, studies to identify digital biomarkers for COVID-19 have only been underway for a few months, with the Scripps Institute first launching its DETECT study, followed by Oura in late March and finally Fitbit in May. It is far too early to be using this data to make concrete actionable recommendations, and companies should be wary of the offered solution but should monitor the success of commercialized digital biomarkers for longer-term strategies."

First compostable face visor to reduce PPE plastic waste

drishti masand

Holman, Mike

Drishti Masand, Research Associate & Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter 
Lux Take: Very Important

"A Plastic Planet has worked with Reelbrands and Transcend Packaging to develop plastic-free visors made from paper board and cellulose from wood pulp. As the company is not targeting medical use, the visors have acceptable performance for being single-use; however, 150 visors will cost £75, which is significantly higher than conventional plastic visors and will limit market opportunity. Additionally, A Plastic Planet is working with TerraCycle to collect visors from dedicated disposal bins to ensure the visors have a sustainable end of life. Companies should look for novel and sustainable ways to contribute to the crisis and try to ensure continued focus on developing a circular economy through industries."

Zero Emission Services announces battery swapping concept for electric inland waterway shipping

Chloe HerreraChloe Herrera, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The Zero Emission Services (ZES) consortium was formed by the Port of Rotterdam, Wärtsilä, ING Bank, and Engie to lease exchangeable battery containers. Charging and exchange stations will be implemented along waterway routes in the Netherlands for shipping barges to use based on a pay-per-use financing model. ZES' concept is differentiated from other electric waterway shipping concepts by its competitive pricing and eliminated downtime from charging; additionally, it is technology-agnostic, and the packs can support the use of hydrogen fuel if that becomes favorable. The open access plan eliminates the major pain points for electric shipping, but its success will depend on wider adoption of electric powertrains in the charging network."

RNA viruses as a strategy to improve in planta gene editing

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


"The method, published by the Voytas Lab of the University of Minnesota, requires Cas9 transgenic plants and applies RNA viral vectors encoding single guide RNAs and sequences to improve cell-to-cell mobility to produce mutant progeny in the next generation at frequencies ranging from 65% to 100%. This is more than double the highest published editing frequencies. In addition, the process can be multiplexed with good results (30% editing frequency). In planta editing can greatly reduce the cost and effort of development, and transformation efficiency has remained a bottleneck for plant editing. Companies, while this process is limited by the need for Cas9 transgenic plants, it is an important step toward simplifying gene editing R&D."

Tesla receives electricity generation license in the U.K.

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) in the U.K. granted an electricity generation license to Tesla Motors, taking a step closer toward becoming an energy services company in the country. While Tesla doesn't own or operate traditional generation capacity, it offers stationary storage systems for utility-scale and behind-the-meter applications as well as software that can manage and optimize these assets by means of application stacking. Tesla is likely positioning itself to play a role as a virtual power plant (VPP) aggregator in the U.K., a country ripe to take full advantage of VPPs; although Tesla is not alone, it is joining the vast number of players in the country."

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Lactip's $14.5 million investment will fund its 2021 production facility, downstream application R&D, and market development

14215-thumb-squareTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Solutions targeting microplastic prevention and marine biodegradability are booming, and Lactip's investment is a clear indication of this trend. While its bioplastic has great biodegradability, its mechanical properties limit potential applications to secondary or miniature packaging. As the company expands its production to 3,000 tpa in 2021 and grows its market to food, lamination, and construction sectors, Lactips must focus on its R&D efforts, as strength and temperature limitations remain a barrier. Companies interested in water-soluble and biodegradable food packaging and cosmetic applications should test Lactip's bioplastic to see if its moisture barrier, mechanical performance, and temperature range will fit the application."

Boston Dynamics launches Spot robot on website for general sales

Kern, JoshJosh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
The company will sell the quadruped robot in the U.S. for $74,500, with special pricing for enterprise and academic customers. The news comes after Boston Dynamics completed its early adopter program, in which more than 150 Spot robots were programmed to perform data collection tasks in industrial settings. The company is also selling payload options like lidars, computing units, and camera modules for significant markups, giving a glimpse into the company's strategy of monetizing a technology that has historically been expensive to produce. Companies should see the move as evidence that Spot has reached a high level of commercial readiness, which is ahead of pre-commercial releases from companies like ANYbotics."

Oregon's wave energy R&D center rolls toward construction

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


"The testing center, rebranded as PacWave in 2018, received $35 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which allocated a total budget of $50 million for developing the facility. PacWave is currently in its permitting home stretch and could enter construction as early as this year, meaning that the first-wave energy converters could be deployed in the next two to three years. This facility is the culmination of continued efforts from the U.S. DOE to promote wave energy, and – similar to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the U.K. – aims to become an innovation hub for marine energy projects in the U.S. companies are advised to monitor this project, as it is poised to drive startup activity in the U.S."

Merck Animal Health acquires Quantified Ag, continuing to show interest in livestock wearable technologies

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


"Merck Animal Health is growing its portfolio of animal health monitoring technologies with its acquisition of Quantified Ag, a developer of sensor-enabled tags for beef cattle that collect biomedical data to detect illness. The financial details were not disclosed; this news is part of a small but growing trend of major animal health companies making moves to acquire precision livestock farming technologies, with a likely goal of increased livestock welfare and disease traceability. The pandemic is raising awareness of the need to track livestock conditions and has put digital solutions in the spotlight. Companies are encouraged to engage in this space but must remember to account for projected adoption by farmers to ensure economic return."

 

 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 12, 2020

- Blog: AI's Role in Fighting COVID-19: Sifting Through the Hype

- Blog: Leveraging Robotics to Improve Your Post-COVID Strategy

- Press Release: Lux Research Ranks the Critical Technologies for Surviving COVID-19

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