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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up May 15, 2020

Lux Research

Every day our analysts comb through major industry headlines and provide their analysis on developments and trends in the news. Our researchers evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

Each 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 tech and strategy as they relate to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 will finally close the door on U.S. coal despite Trump's America First Energy Plan

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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


"According to the EIA, renewable energy will surpass coal in the U.S. electricity mix this year for the first time in history. Coal has been on the decline for nearly two decades and was replaced by natural gas as the primary source of electricity in 2016, but a 16-year low in electricity demand brought on by COVID-19 will likely shutter the U.S. coal industry for good. While natural gas and renewables are key to decarbonization, the pandemic has brought the well-known fact to the public light: Coal is no longer economically competitive in the U.S. It is becoming clear that COVID-19 will lead to a shake-up of the energy landscape and catalyze the energy transition, with investors eyeing new energy sector plays as we emerge from the pandemic."

U.S. senators introduce COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act

Jerrold Wang Lux ResearchJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The purpose of the act is to protect personal data like health, location, and proximity. The act makes it illegal to collect, process, and transfer personal data for COVID-19 contact tracing without prior notice and consumer consent. The act also requires that entities allow consumers to opt out and anonymize the data if the data is used for non-COVID-19 purposes. While yet to become a law, this could pave the way toward future privacy protection laws similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Companies looking to leverage consumer data in such an environment should look to data marketplaces like UDBI and Aiisma, which are designed with consumer privacy in mind."

GM Cruise cuts 8% of workforce while doubling down on engineering

Josh Kern Analyst Lux ResearchJosh Kern, Analyst | @josh_kern_ Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"
The self-driving car company had hired a slew of employees in 2019 with the goal of launching a robotaxi service and even launched its own vehicle. Now, as many autonomous vehicle testing deployments have halted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, any short-term launches of services like robotaxis have been delayed. The layoffs will affect employees in Cruise's product, marketing, and ride-share business units while engineering hiring continues. Cruise has a large cash balance but likely doesn't want to waste it on operational activities that are essentially paused during the pandemic. However, those activities should resume in the near future, which brings up questions around the company's technology readiness for a true robotaxi service."

Singapore-based ABM Respiratory Care launches remote-managed "tele-ventilator" in the fight against COVID-19

Danielle Bradnan Lux ResearchDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Much has been made of ventilator shortages in fighting COVID-19; however, a lack of skilled respiratory staff continues to place an overwhelming burden on the current staff. While telehealth is often perceived as video conferencing for patients to receive care from their homes, prior to COVID-19, one of its strongest value propositions was being able to provide remote specialist care in-hospital. The tele-ventilator, sold under the name BiWaze Ion, will reduce the enormous pressure seen on respiratory care specialists in the fight against COVID-19. Companies newly interested in telehealth should be looking beyond home-based care and at the rich opportunities available in the clinical setting."

Fiat Chrysler supplies custom vehicles to autonomous vehicle startup Voyage

Lewie Roberts Lux Research

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

 

"FCA is supplying custom Pacifica Hybrid minivans with integrated autonomous vehicle (AV) tech, where Voyage and FCA will jointly validate the connection between the traditional vehicle and AV software, sensors, and other hardware. It's unclear how many vehicles FCA will supply as part of this deal. Meanwhile, the auto OEM continues to work with other AV companies Waymo and Aurora, both of which are vying for more varied driving environments than Voyage is. Still, it's clear that FCA is taking a portfolio approach to AVs in contrast to other OEMs, in terms of both the number of partners and the business models. Voyage and Aurora both have mobility platforms, while Aurora is solely focused on building the AV tech as a stand-alone."

Vestaron secures Wilbur-Ellis as major distributor of Spear-Lep biopesticide

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


"Vestaron has remained a leader in tested efficacy among biopesticide developers. This distribution agreement brings an added layer of confidence to the product and the company. SPEAR-LEP will now penetrate the nut and fruit tree market of North America, which will situate it for future expansion. This is a critical milestone for Vestaron and one that will likely speed up its development as well as acceptance of its pipeline of novel products. While the semi-exclusive nature of the agreement adds some confusion and may hide international opportunities, companies should take from this announcement that Vestaron is growing to be a real competitor in the high-value crop protection space. Don't miss your opportunities in this evolving market."

U.S. Department of Energy announces $27 million for advanced nuclear reactor operation and maintenance technology

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The funding will go to nine projects under Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy's (ARPA-E) GEMINA program. Specifically, the focus is to develop digital twin technology using AI, advanced control systems, predictive maintenance, and model-based fault detection to reduce O&M costs tenfold in the next generation of nuclear power plants and make reactors more flexible in the face of rising renewable penetrations. Companies, advanced nuclear reactors based on novel reactor and power plant designs will certainly face new and unexpected operational challenges and thus O&M cost concerns. This announcement is an important step toward improving the odds that advanced reactors, once commercialized, can compete with incumbent thermal power assets."

Cubiq Foods gains $5 million funding for cell-based fats

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


"Through the deal, Blue Horizon Ventures obtains 35% ownership of Cubiq Foods and joins shareholders Moria Capital, which holds a 46% stake, and the company's founders, who together own 19%. Cubiq Foods intends to use the funding to increase the production of its vegan fat, called SMART FAT, and microencapsulated omega-3s that are produced using poultry stem cells. This investment will likely support the company's commercial rollout and help it meet its production goal of 700 MT per year by 2022. However, clients should note that Cubiq Foods' omega-3s are of animal origin, and this may limit consumer acceptance. As innovation in cellular agriculture nears market readiness, weigh the value in "animal-free" claims relative to market potential."

Axalta's antimicrobial coatings to be applied to COVID-19 hospital beds in Chicago

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


"While antimicrobial solutions are being deployed in healthcare to manage the spread of COVID-19, there is still a lack of validation that these technologies will be effective against the virus long-term. Axalta's Alesta AM silver-based powder coatings will inhibit bacterial growth; however, there are no claims made against the COVID-19 virus. Furthermore, the company makes no public health claims, stating that its "antimicrobial protection is limited to the coating itself, and does not protect against disease-causing bacteria, viruses, germs, or other disease-causing organisms." Companies should be aware that some of these antimicrobial coatings are not antiviral and not effective against COVID-19 by themselves."

Perfect Day launches first co-branded product with San Francisco-based Smitten Ice Cream

10085-thumb-square

Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Smitten is launching four different flavors using Perfect Day's non-animal whey protein under the product line "N'Ice Cream." It has five shops in Northern California, delivers across the Bay area, and ships to Western U.S. states. This comes almost a year after Perfect Day did its own self-branded soft launch. The price point has gone down considerably since then. Previously $60 for a 3-pint pack ($20/pint), it is now $52 for a 4-pint pack ($13/pint) – still a premium over traditional ice cream brands, but nonetheless trending in the right direction. Clients, momentum for fermentation-derived ingredients is growing, and we encourage formulation testing to uncover any potential functionality advantages."

DSM invests in plant-derived functional ingredients company Phynova

Harini Venkataraman Ph.D. Lux ResearchHarini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"
Building on a distribution agreement with Phynova in 2019, DSM led the €10 million investment in the Oxford-based company, which makes functional ingredients derived from plants. Phynova will use this funding to scale its mulberry leaf-derived ingredient "Reducose," which regulates blood glucose levels by reducing the impact of high-glycemic sugars. Phynova sells Reducose both as a supplement and as an ingredient for functional food and beverage products. As functional ingredients gain momentum, clients should explore offerings from developers employing traditional discovery methods as well as those from emerging startups like Brightseed that use an ingredient informatics-based approach to uncover novel functional phytonutrients."

 

 

 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up May 8 2020

- Blog: The Startups Likely To Be Up For Funding Amid COVID-19

- Blog: Autonomous Vehicle Deployments Could Accelerate Following the COVID-19 Outbreak

- Press Release: Lux Research Predicts Digital Therapeutics Are The Future Of Medicine

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