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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up March 5, 2021

Lux Research
March 5, 2021

Every day our researchers comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert analysis 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 first week of March below.

EU Commission proposes €10 billion in funding for 10 public-private partnerships to bolster the region's innovation ecosystem

Yuan-Sheng Yu_2014_150px

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


"The €10 billion will be split across 10 major projects, including healthcare, circular economy, hydrogen, and connectivity technologies. At its core, this is a significant step by the EU to strengthen its leading position in certain areas while also keeping pace with rising competition from around the world. Notably, in areas like rail and 5G networks, the EU has lost ground against China and South Korea – two countries that have emerged as global innovation powerhouses. At the same time, the EU continues to blaze the trail for the circular economy and hydrogen. This funding highlights the importance of top-down government support for technology development and solidifying a region's position in the global innovation ecosystem."

Yet another play toward seed development for indoor agriculture – Kalera acquires Vindara for $23.7 million

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Kalera, vertical hydroponics developer and producer of leafy greens, microgreens, and herbs, announced its acquisition of Vindara, a pioneer in engineering seeds for indoor growing environments. Through the acquisition, Vindara will become a fully owned subsidiary of Kalera and provide Kalera with the technology to improve the growth cycle and quality of its plant varieties. Kalera also plans to expand its product pipeline to include basil, spinach, and strawberries. As we witnessed with Bayer and Tamasek's announcement of Unfold, germplasm innovation is a major objective for indoor agriculture. Likewise, those with the tools and expertise to develop new seed varieties should exploit this opportunity by partnering with indoor growers."

Saudi Arabia explicitly positions itself as exporter of renewable energy

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., VP, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
Our analysis in 2018 showed that Saudi Arabia could be a bigger exporter of energy than it is today by covering 1% or 2% of its land with solar panels and exporting the energy in the form of hydrogen. The country could become a global powerhouse of renewable energy. It has the required land space and favorable climate conditions. Moreover, its geographic position makes it suitable to export to many regions that need renewable energy imports like Europe, India, and China. The "offer" the country made to transport green hydrogen by pipeline to Europe shows that the kingdom recognizes the opportunity and is actively working to exploit it. A pipeline may not be optimal, and this idea will take years to develop, yet companies should pay attention."

evolving energy story

Spinnova at peak momentum: H&M partnership and commercial-scale factory with JV partner Suzano by end of 2022

Tiffany HuaTiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Spinnova and its previous partner, Suzano, have formed a joint venture investing an estimated €22 million to construct its commercial facility in Jyväskylä, Finland. The plant is expected to come online by the end of 2022. Spinnova's expanded production capacity will serve its new partner H&M and previous partners Bergan and Marimekko. We can expect additional brand collaborations and product announcements later this year in anticipation of its production growth. Given the string of scale-up announcements, including from Renewcell, Worn Again, Natural Fiber Welding, and now Spinnova, it is clear that the alternative fiber and materials market is at an inflection point, approaching commercialization."

Graphene battery to be mass-produced by GAC Group in September

Chloe HerreraChloe Herrera, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"China's GAC Group is in the final vehicle testing phase for its graphene-based battery that can withstand up to 6C charge rates. Due to its high electron mobility and good rate performance, graphene has the potential to be a successful anode material. The cost to manufacture of graphene has been a barrier to mass production, and creating a 3D anode material has typically only been achieved at lab scale. Other companies have claimed to have a graphene battery but have failed to follow through with any product. While pure graphene batteries are unlikely to become the norm in Li-ion batteries, this announcement indicates that innovations in carbon nanotechnology will become increasingly important for competing with silicon-based anodes."

Battery swapping scaling up in Indian e-rickshaw market

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


"Indian electric rickshaw ride-hailing company Oye Rickshaw is launching a battery swapping platform that aims to deploy 10,000 Li-Ion batteries by December of this year. The announcement trails a reportedly successful battery swapping pilot that the company launched in December 2020, enabling more than 100,000 swaps in less than three months. While Oye is not the first to tackle India's growing e-rickshaw market, and players like SmartE and Sun Mobility are likely smarter bets at this point, limited competition in the space means there is a large upside for Oye if it can establish itself as a key integrator. Companies should pay close attention to Oye's scaling efforts and expect more battery swap deployments in the region."

Xcel Energy Colorado to cut carbon emissions by 85% in 2030 as part of its Clean Energy Plan

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


"Some relevant action points include the addition of about 5.5 GW of combined wind, solar PV, and battery storage capacity, reduction in coal plant operations, and a series of upgrades at the power grid level – concerning transmission infrastructure and tools for balancing electricity supply and demand. Xcel Energy was among the first utilities to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050 three years ago. As it moves forward with this ambition, the utility plans to continue to phase out coal and tap into nuclear energy as a source of baseload power. Other technologies that will likely be required to achieve a zero-carbon energy system include low-carbon fuels, carbon capture, and long-duration energy storage."

Cambridge Glycoscience raises $15 million Series A for fiber-based sweetener and rebrands as Supplant

hariniHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"This funding round was led by existing investors including Felicis Ventures and Manta Ray, bringing Supplant's funding to $24 million. Previously known as Cambridge Glycoscience, the company develops oligosaccharide-based sweetener from waste plant-based feedstocks like sugarcane bagasse and wheat straw using an enzymatic approach. It claims that the sweetener matches crucial functionalities of sucrose like bulk and texture. While the company is one of the many developers entering the crowded sugar reduction space, its technology focus on developing low glycemic fibers with inherent sweetness will be viewed favorably. Those interested in sugar reduction applications should monitor the company's scale-up potential."

The Chemical and Materials Company of 2040

Brick by brick: Kenoteq touts brick made of 90% construction waste

Gee, CeciliaCecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Kenoteq produces the K-Briq from 90% recycled construction and demolition waste (CDW). It claims it does not require firing and produces less than a tenth of the carbon emissions of standard fired brick. Using construction waste as a feedstock is more environmentally friendly and creates less path-dependent risk compared to groups that convert discarded plastics into building materials. However, Kenoteq does not disclose cost estimates, and the K-Briq is likely to come at a high price premium. Technologies like those from Kenoteq and StoneCycling, a leader in this area, must go hand in hand with other sustainable building and construction technologies to decarbonize the overall industry."

Aurora acquires its second lidar startup

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Low Importance


"
Aurora acquired OURS Technology, a lidar-on-a-chip company, in order to scale the existing lidar tech that it acquired from Blackmore in 2019. Importantly, OURS was founded by a team with expertise in FMCW lidar, the same type of lidar that Blackmore developed. It's likely that Aurora acquired OURS for its tech on manufacturing that FMCW lidar using "standard CMOS processes" to improve scalability. This event isn't particularly important for the space overall, though it does emphasize Aurora's confidence in its specific lidar approach."

ChargeLab raises seed funding, but it's a little late to the game

Hernandez, JessicaJessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"ChargeLab closed a seed round raising $4.3 million from Construct Capital and Root Ventures. The company develops software to manage electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, aiming to become the operating system of EV charging hardware, no matter the manufacturer. While it's true that many EV charging hardware developers offer their own software platforms, there are also strong software developers that are hardware-agnostic, such as Virta and GreenlotsChargeLab's partnership with ABB to integrate its software platform with ABB's hardware is an interesting one, but the company will have to prove competitiveness and advanced management capabilities to become a relevant player in the space."

World's first carbon fiber monocoque cellphone

Gee, CeciliaCecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore


"Although it's a relatively small application area for the material, carbon fiber (CF) is slowly being adopted in everyday consumer products like laptop covers, shoe midsoles, and eyewear. However, while a CF phone case may be attractive for its protective properties, creating an entire phone whose major selling point is that it is made out of CF offers little added value. Phones are differentiated by features like software, camera quality, screen quality, battery life, or storage rather than monocoque material. Those looking to grow CF into new applications must consider market pull instead of blindly creating a flashy product of vapid value."

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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