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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up March 13, 2020

Lux Research
March 14, 2020

Every week our analysts gather the biggest headlines and trends and provide their analysis on major industry developments in the news. Our researchers evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore. Check out our thoughts on the top emerging technology and innovation news and trends across all industries below.

Each Friday we will highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our weekly round-up for the first week of March below.

Livekindly Co. enters the plant-based space with $200 million in funding, three acquisitions, two partnerships, and an investment


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive

"The $200 million in funding came from the founders, a mix of industry veterans. The newly formed entity acquired Livekindly Media, from which its name derives, and two plant-based chicken brands in LikeMeat (from Germany) and The Fry Family Food Co. (from South Africa). It has set up partnerships with poultry companies PHW Group in Europe and RCL Foods in South Africa. Additionally, it acquired an equity stake in Puris, the pea protein supplier that has a JV with Cargill. The press release mentioned that the group plans to continue acquisitions, signaling that Livekindly Co. is looking to scale big and scale fast. Companies, plant proteins are reaching unprecedented levels of commercial maturity. Move swiftly or be left behind." 

European Commission adopts Circular Economy Action Plan as part of the European Green Deal

Gihan Hewage, Analyst | @GihanGoesGreen Ico twitterHewage, Gihan
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive

"The action plan aims to help consumers make more circular choices across a variety of products, with an emphasis on areas that heavily use resources and have a high potential for circularity: electronics, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, and food. Waste reduction is a major focus of the initiative and will be achieved both by increasing recycled content and by offering more durable products while restricting planned obsolescence. Critically, the European Commission proposes that companies must substantiate environmental claims using standardized Product and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods. This plan stands out as a move toward a circular economy while minimizing greenwashing."

Neste invests in Sunfire for high-temperature electrolysis

Runeel DaliahRuneel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Neste acquired a minority stake in Sunfire and will deploy high-temperature electrolysis for renewable hydrogen at one of its refineries. This is Sunfire's second partnership with an oil and gas major but Neste's first foray into electrochemistry. Just like its partnership with ReNewELP for co-processing syncrude oil from plastic, it appears Neste plans to use Sunfire's technology to decarbonize its oil and gas operations while still retaining use of its existing assets – this is a smart move, as electrolysis is a bridge technology between the renewable power and fuels sectors. Total and Shell are also launching similar projects – we expect to see even more in the coming year as oil and gas majors work toward carbon neutrality."


Company that provides erectile dysfunction prescriptions via telemedicine offers COVID-19 assessments – despite appearances, a good thing

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

"Roman's service has been called into question due to its primary offering of erectile dysfunction prescriptions. Ro is leveraging its existing infrastructure to provide the current best practices of medical care (especially given the absence of available tests) via a nontraditional subscription service. However, it does highlight the fact that patients are left hanging by insurance providers that don't reimburse for telemedicine services. The arrival of COVID-19 should be a wake-up call for the need for reimbursed telehealth services, and a failure to acknowledge this need risks disruption of the healthcare industry by up-and-coming subscription models."

GM's investor day highlights the right technology and strategy to make BEVs and profits

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

"Five years ago, you could make a case that General Motors (GM) was a leader in electric vehicle technology and strategy, as the company beat even Tesla to offer a battery electric vehicle (BEV) with more than 200 miles of range and a base MSRP of less than $40,000. In the years since, that argument is difficult to make: Bolt sales are falling, it discontinued the plug-in hybrid Volt that kicked off its electrification push, and it has made little progress toward the 20 electrified vehicles it claimed it would release by 2023 halfway through its goal stated in a 2017 announcement. GM's EV day aimed to update investors and the broader automotive industry on how it will spend its planned $20 billion investment for an electrified future with more details around its battery technology roadmap and EV strategy."

Kyoto University develops 3D printing method for metal-organic frameworks

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Kyoto University researchers are definitely trying to make MOFs more interesting – first by proposing liquids MOFs and now by developing 3D-printed MOF solid structures. The 3D printed MOFs are formed by a controlled spray deposition technique that combines manufacturing and post-processing into one step, which would be a more efficient method to produce MOFs. While this work is early-stage, companies should monitor this research as a promising potential manufacturing technique for MOFs."

By launching smart insole with Adidas and EA, Google pushes further toward immersive computing

2908-thumb-squareJerrold Wang, Analyst | @JerroldWang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Unlike the smart backpack project where Google's Jacquard Tag enables users to control smartphone in new ways, the Adidas smart soccer insole uses Jacquard to sense and analyze the user's movements (like kicking power and running speed and distance). Users can pull their data from real-world soccer games and use it to get rewards from EA's FIFA Mobile game. This smart insole is just one application of Google's Jacquard Tag, which serves for a broader initiative of making sensing, computing, and analytics an ongoing and integrated experience. Companies making consumer products should monitor Jacquard's current and upcoming projects and consider following the initiative through product development." bets an additional $5 million on GrainChain

13463-thumb-squareLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The funding from Medici Ventures ('s blockchain accelerator) follows a $2.5 million initial investment in December 2018 for 10% equity. GrainChain now sits at $10.7 million in total funding and will use the capital to continue developing its blockchain technology for the agriculture industry and expand to new international markets. Since its launch in 2018, GrainChain has gained 1,439 participants and processed more than 2.5 million tons of commodities, highlighting the Honduran coffee industry as a primary focus. With the coffee supply chain being a positive use case to point to, GrainChain will attract interest; however, companies must continue to weigh perceived vs. quantitative value when considering blockchain applications."

Dynamic grating enables high spatial resolution fiber-optic sensors for distributed sensing applications

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Researchers at Bar-Ilan University demonstrated a new high spatial resolution fiber-optic sensor for distributed sensing applications. Unlike the traditional fiber-optic sensors using periodic physical gratings to enable cladding mode to sense what's outside the cladding, the new sensors use two strong optical waves to enable acoustic oscillations within the core of the fibers, thus creating dynamic gratings. The principle is known as Brillouin dynamic grating. The dynamic gratings can be switched on and off at will and enable high-resolution monitoring. Companies interested in high-resolution distributed sensing should monitor the progress of the research, as there are still many challenges to overcome before commercialization."

U.S. EPA proposes regulations on import of goods with PFAS coatings

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

"This regulation proposed by the EPA will impact U.S. consumer packaged good (CPG) companies rather than the U.S. material and chemical industry. Certain pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) chemistries were already eliminated  by the U.S. EPA in 2015 through the Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) Stewardship Program (which included Arkena, Asaki, BASF Corporation, Clariant, Dailin, 3M, DuPont, and Solvay Solexis). Additionally, most U.S and EU coating developers and startups, if not already PFAS-free, are transitioning to PFAS-free chemistries. CPG companies who are importing goods with PFAS to the U.S. must begin the transition to alternative chemistries ASAP, as this regulation may severely impact trade to the U.S."

Rolls-Royce expects 100-passenger hybrid-electric planes to be flying by 2029

Chloe Holzinger Analyst at Lux ResearchChloe Holzinger, Analyst | @ChloeHolzinger Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance

Of course, the key issue is not the existence of hybrid-electric commercial airliners but the level of hybridization and the length of the flight route. In these regards, Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein failed to add any specifics, saying only that the routes would be restricted to regional flights and that fully electric planes carrying 150 to 200 passengers would not be possible before 2030. These views are well-aligned with Lux's expectations for the electric aviation market. Today, even mild hybridization is inhibited by the size and weight of the required power electronics systems. Companies should expect that the hybrid-electric planes of 2030 will use lighter, smaller power converters and solid-state batteries for improved safety."





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