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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up March 6, 2020

Lux Research
March 7, 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.

Some 20 Japanese companies form materials informatics consortium to cut development time from years to months

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

Some of the consortium participants include Mitsubishi Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical, Mitsui Chemicals, Toray Industries, and Asahi Kasei. Starting in fiscal year 2021, the goal of this consortium is to develop advanced materials that are more durable and heat-resistant using in-country patents. Specifically, these companies will share a common database, managed by the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS). As we noted previously, Japanese companies are the most active players in materials informatics. Additionally, it is unclear from this news how these companies plan to handle the resulting intellectual properties generated from this collaboration (likely a sharing mechanism as well), which is a crucial issue for a consortium." 

Canopy Growth's scale-down showcases the challenge of balancing indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation

Olsen, Sara

Sara Olson, Ph.D., Director, Research | @SaraOlsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Canopy Growth has enjoyed a position as a world-leading cannabis company, but this week's announcement will see it reduce its workforce by 500 employees, reduce its greenhouse cultivation capacity by 3 million square feet, and cancel plans to open an additional greenhouse facility. The company's public statement points to the challenge currently facing the entire cannabis cultivation industry: Outdoor cultivation, where allowed, is more cost-effective than greenhouse cultivation for most cannabis production. For medicinal uses, indoor cultivation's higher cost is justified by premium prices, but recreational products struggle to recover those costs. Cannabis production investments have to be made with end product prices front of mind."

UCS study on ride-hailing emissions will accelerate cities' focus on TNC emissions 

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

"The study adds to a growing body of evidence that ride-hailing networks add emissions, and clients should expect local governments in the U.S. to accelerate plans to curb emissions in the industry. While most cities add a fee to hailed rides, New York City and Chicago were the first to implement tiered fees with pooled rides – which generate a third fewer emissions than single-passenger rides – charged lower fees. Although this study focuses on the U.S., companies should also note that similar initiatives exist globally as Didi pushes to reduce emissions in its China-focused fleet and Uber integrates BEVs into its London fleet."

Alibaba and Ping An develop AI-based diagnostics to detect coronovirus infection from CT scans in seconds

Nardev Ramanathan Ph.DNardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Analyst | @Nardev_R Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"As the coronavirus epidemic becomes a larger global threat, time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating patients. In our recent report, we highlighted how point-of-care diagnostics (POCD) for infectious diseases today still suffer from lack of speed and reliability. Cheek swabs, the primary diagnostic method, employ a PCR-based technique that takes a few hours at best. Alibaba and Ping An have developed an AI-based diagnostic that they claim can detect coronavirus-positive cases with 96% and 90% accuracy within 20 seconds and 15 seconds, respectively, from CT scans. Companies should monitor how these two giants deploy their solutions, especially if they have interest in partnering to bring these solutions to other markets outside China."

Culture Biosciences raises $15 million Series A to triple capacity and develop more software tools

Gihan Hewage, Analyst | @GihanGoesGreen Ico twitterHewage, Gihan
Lux Take: Very Important

"Culture's Series A follows its $5.5 million seed round from about a year ago. In that time, Culture claims to have exceeded its goal of tripling capacity but scaling fivefold while also adding live data monitoring and visualization for its customers as well as mammalian cell culture technology. Importantly, Culture claims its customer base has exceeded 30, including Fortune 50 companies. If its claims are true, Culture Biosciences has quickly grown to be a strong player in the synbio service space, albeit for those with existing expertise."

Bayer signs MOU with Asian drone service provider XAG

12744-thumb-squareJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Bayer and XAG aim to target smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia and Pakistan by developing country-specific service models. XAG is already established in China (20 million hectares serviced) and has its own RTK network in place. This partnership will compete with that of Syngenta and DJI, but XAG is likely looking at many partners. While it remains unclear if these services will be priced compatibly for smallholder farmers, the growth of XAG throughout China supports the possibility. The pair plan to innovate formulations to reduce drift, decrease volumes, and expand active ingredient compatibility. Companies, this is a strong move into drones by Bayer and is quickly commercializable given XAG's resources; cost and model remain issues."

Waymo raises $2.25 billion in first external round

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

Lewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Magna joins a group of financial firms participating in Waymo's first external funding round, which serves as yet another reminder that AV development is wildly capital-intensive (similar to other nonsoftware projects from X like Makani). Last year saw similar billion-dollar investments (or more) into Uber ATG, Cruise, Argo AI, and Aptiv. Although there is high contrast between these massive investments and the slow progress of development, companies should remember that slow and expensive development was already expected. This announcement comes just after some small steps in shuttling riders without a safety driver, suggesting upward momentum with this investment rather than signaling any major equity trade-off."

BlueNalu raises $20 million Series A funding for cell-based seafood

Harini Venkataraman Ph.D. Lux ResearchHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

This Series A funding round adds some strategic investors like Nutreco and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, among others, and will help BlueNalu construct a pilot-scale production facility in San Diego for commercial launch in late 2021. Among the cell-based seafood startups, BlueNalu has been showing quite some momentum, with its commercialization strategy and recent partnership with Nutreco. Although cell-based seafood is a fast-growing subcategory within the broader cellular agriculture space, none of the startups have managed to produce meaningful quantities of seafood so far. Given BlueNalu's ambitious timeline, its commercial success will hinge on the construction of its pilot-scale facility alongside timely regulatory approval."

Toyota is adopting Covestro's kenaf fiber composite for its new concept car

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

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

"Conventionally, synthetic fibers like carbon, glass, and aramid composites have been used for lightweighting in the automotive industry. However, companies are experimenting with natural fibers; kenaf fibers have comparable specific properties, and relatively low processing costs favoring their substitution for conventional synthetic fibers. Companies should monitor the progress of this partnership; so far, natural fiber composites have only been used for internal components of a car, so it will interesting to see how well the fibers perform in a PU foam substrate as the external body of the car."

Burger King collaborates with NotCo to roll out plant-based Rebel Whopper in Chile


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"This follows Burger King's rollout of the Rebel Whopper in Europe with Unilever-owned The Vegetarian Butcher and the Impossible Whopper in the U.S. with Impossible Foods. Burger King's string of product launches highlights how to engage with local partners in the agrifood ecosystem, with The Vegetarian Butcher, Impossible Foods, and NotCo all headquartered in the market of each respective launch. It is also exemplifying the first step toward personalization: localization. If and when Burger King makes its plant-based debut in Asia, it will especially need to take product localization into account. Let Burger King's moves be a reminder of the power of partnerships on the personalization journey."

Chinese scientist sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing battery trade secrets from employer Phillips 66

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

Chinese national Hongjin Tan pleaded guilty to intentionally copying and downloading battery research materials without proper authorization. According to Reuters, the FBI also found an employment agreement from a Chinese Li-ion battery company on his laptop, yet SCMP asserts that there is no evidence that Tan actually sent any trade secrets to the company. P66 claims the IP in question is worth $1 billion; we strongly suspect this research is related to synthetic graphite production and/or use. The incident is a striking note in the ongoing trade war; clients should expect current political tensions to restrict the commercialization of U.S. battery startup technologies, as much of the Li-ion battery value chain is concentrated in China."

Geely's new SUVs are equipped with coronavirus-proof filtration systems, and it is nonsense

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore

"The city plans to use mobile air quality sensors to monitor air pollution in the Bronx. The solar-powered air quality sensors use a laser to detect pollutants and are mounted on top of municipal vehicles. This project will allow the city to get hyperlocal air quality data at a lower cost than using conventional stationary sensing methods. MIT's Senseable City Lab developed the sensors and offered them to the city for free. Six major global cities have adopted its technology, with more cities joining the list. Companies should monitor the progress of the projects in New York City and evaluate possible partnership opportunities with the MIT lab in developing both sensing and data modeling technologies or offering sensors."




- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up February 28, 2020

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