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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up June 5, 2020

Lux Research
June 6, 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 for the first week of June.

Despite slow start, China VC activity is rebounding as the country returns to normalcy

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"With only $2.75 billion in VC funding in January, China was on pace for one of the lowest VC investments years in the past decade. However, as the country begins to return to normalcy, VC investment has also increased, with a reported $11 billion in the first two months of Q2 – with key investments in autonomous vehicles and micromobility. While a strong Q2 is no indication that it will return to the state that surpassed the U.S. in VC funding in 2018, more visibility on "life after COVID" in China points toward a positive year after seeing its VC investments drop by 50% in 2019. With more restrictive measures in India and rising geopolitical tensions with several countries, it is expected that VC capital will stay domestic in 2020."

Benchling picks up $50 million for biotech software, with plans to expand to chemicals

Holman, Mike

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

"The deal has Benchling approaching unicorn status at an $850 million valuation, based on the popularity of its software for organizing and analyzing large datasets in biotech R&D, supporting bioinformatics efforts. Notably, the company, which is tipped as having about $21 million in revenue in 2019, also plans to launch a product later this year for chemicals R&D. With the popularity of materials informatics growing, systematic data architecture will be more important for researchers, creating an opportunity and need for services like Benchling's – chemicals and materials companies should look to be early testers." 

Facebook invests in Gojek as it looks to live out its superapp ambitions in Southeast Asia

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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

"Gojek's Series F did not close in March. From Gojek's perspective, it brings in much-needed cash during the pandemic, but also strengthens its lineup of strategic investors, especially in financial services. However, this investment benefits Facebook more, as the company continues to expand its offerings, following the superapp blueprint of China's WeChat. The most critical component is Facebook's digital wallet, Novi, which many in the U.S. projected would be a failure. However, while mobile payment adoption continues to lag in the U.S., Asia is the clear global leader in financial tech, as market adoption continues to grow. Companies must take advantage of the region's shifting demographics and its appetite for technology deployment."

Women's health startup Tia raises $24 million in funding for hybrid brick-and-mortar and digital care

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

"Tia is leveraging a key emerging theme of digital health – that there is an entire continuum of care beyond the clinic. While the nature of healthcare means that there is always a need for in-person exams and procedures, digital services in conjunction with in-person procedures mean that Tia can address the needs of a patient anytime outside of a clinic. Like its competitor Kindbody, Tia is an example of a trend clients need to be aware of because of the many opportunities across the continuum of care that they can address. Companies already established in medical care can supply clinics, but nontraditional organizations can supply the material goods, sensor components, and even pieces of software that allow for the provision of remote care."

Beyond Meat expands its China footprint through trial with KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The trial will only be at select restaurants over a period of days, but could expand to more restaurants over a longer period of time. For Beyond Meat, this is its second big move in China after rolling out products with Starbucks. Yum China, the parent organization of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in the region, had already done a similar trial with Cargill in KFC restaurants, but for plant-based chicken rather than plant-based beef. The plant-based space in China is only picking up momentum, with some players coming together under the China Plant-Based Food Industry Alliance. Those who do not secure a footprint in the region now for plant-based, even if initially modest, will miss out on a significant opportunity."

ViroVet raises $6.7 million to bring its novel livestock vaccines closer to market

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

"The funding round was led by Seventure Partners and included participation from PMV, Biotech Fund Flanders, Capricorn Partners, Agri Investment Fund, KU Leuven, Gemma Frisius Fund, and Vives II. ViroVet will use the funds to develop its PLLAV vaccine technology and enter the market. While ViroVet does not disclose when or what products will be released, the company's most advanced vaccine targets bovine respiratory illness; however, ViroVet is also working on antiviral drugs against African swine fever (ASF) with the Pirbright Institute, which just recently published an immunization trial showing 100% efficacy. Companies, flexible vaccine platforms are important for protecting the livestock supply chain; look for opportunities to engage."

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New players gain funding for combined 5G and satellite networks, opening private and hybrid network coverage

13815-thumb-squareMichael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"5G startups Ligado Networks and VestaSpace have raised $100 million and $10 million, respectively, in recent weeks, signifying a strengthening confidence in new 5G players. Ligado will use the funding to launch its own L band 1.6 GHz radio spectrum for private networks linked to satellite backhaul that should open new spectrum slices for IIoT. VestaSpace used the funding to launch 35 low Earth orbit satellites to boost India's nascent 5G coverage. Companies should consider these networks for 5G deployments, but only where they cover blank spots from traditional providers because of the uncertainty of the new providers' long-term viability. In the short run, companies can also leverage the new offers to induce incumbents to reduce pricing."

MIT spinout Commonwealth Fusion Systems raises $84 million funding round led by Temasek

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

CFS's total funding now stands at over $200 million, with the latest round led by Temasek – which also led General Fusion's Series E in late 2019 – along with Eni, Equinor, Khosla Ventures, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, among others. CFS will use the funds to further develop high-temperature superconducting magnets, expand operations and manufacturing facilities, and support business development. CFS plans to build a demonstration reactor to show net energy gains by the mid-2020s and a first power generating unit by the early 2030s. Companies should realize that fusion requires significant research and development, but private sector support is growing at the scale required for leading developers to build demonstration reactors.

Vayyar partners with Meditemi to create a COVID-19 screening robot, leveraging a lot of technical hype for questionable payout

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

"Ultra-wideband (UWB) sensing has many benefits in the fight against COVID-19. When it comes to vital signs monitoring, UWB is usually used in healthcare settings to monitor patients over time and is increasingly used to monitor vital signs to identify COVID-19, despite there being only rudimentary vital sign indicators of general infection. The use of a robot to perform a task that can be done with a stationary sensor is an example of the hype piled on robots right now. As both robots and UWB sensors are currently being widely hyped, companies should consider that the real benefits of each technology emerge when deployed in its optimal use cases, and approach this kind of hybrid solution with extreme caution."

HaiLa Technologies, a startup that enables low-power wireless communication in batteryless IoT devices, raises $5 million in funding

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"One of the main barriers to wireless communication in IoT devices is the requirement of power sources, such as a battery, which increases the size and footprint of devices as well as requiring manual battery replacement. HaiLa Technologies, which won the 2019 Nokia Open Innovation Challenge, not only uses ambient RF waves to power its batteryless device but also hitchhikes its message signal on the carrier waves using a technology called ambient backscatter. Furthermore, the compatibility with existing wireless protocols used by carrier waves will result in a significant reduction in deployment costs and risks. While technical details are unavailable, this technology can be very useful in industrial and consumer IoT applications."

Red macroalgae startup Volta Greentech raises $500,000 to reduce cattle methane emissions

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

"The round included participation from Claes Dinkelspiel and the Kjell & Märta Beijers Foundation and brings Volta Greentech's total funding to $873,000. The company will use the funds to optimize its red macroalgae (Asparagopsis taxiformis) cultivation system and scale its new pilot facility in Sweden. In in vitro testing using enteric microbial consortia, Volta Greentech claims its seaweed reduced methane emissions by 98%. Even so, while the technology is sound for offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production, it is unknown if production can reach economies of scale that meet the demand of the cattle feed industry. Companies must carefully evaluate the potential of red macroalgae, as it appears to lack economic incentives."






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