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
Spinnova at peak momentum: H&M partnership and commercial-scale factory with JV partner Suzano by end of 2022
Tiffany Hua, Research Associate | @tiff_hua
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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
Brick by brick: Kenoteq touts brick made of 90% construction waste
"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
ChargeLab raises seed funding, but it's a little late to the game
"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 Greenlots. ChargeLab'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
"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."