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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up May 22, 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.

Decreasing oil prices push GlassPoint Solar into liquidation

Patricia Seoane da Silva - Lux Research - Research AssociatePatricia Seoane da Silva, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"The company went into liquidation after it failed to secure funding from Mitsui and other minority partners. This investment decision was reportedly affected by the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19, which has led to a sharp decrease in oil demand and thus prices. GlassPoint Solar developed a solar-powered alternative to natural gas for producing steam in enhanced oil recovery applications. This technology captured attention in the Middle East, where the company formed a partnership with Petroleum Development Oman. Yet GlassPoint Solar has become another example of vulnerabilities across the O&G sector due to the pandemic. Companies should continue to monitor large O&G players and expect activity across solar thermal to shrink."

C3Nano engages with Nitto Denko for a strategic investment in a round aimed for $15 million

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Transparent conductive films (TCF) aim to enable flexible and/or large size displays where incumbent indium tin oxide (ITO) does not scale (inflexible or too heavy). There have been a number of contenders, with Cambrios and C3Nano remaining in competition for these emerging markets. The flexible displays market was expected to grow after an initial setback due to material challenges, and now, the global pandemic-triggered recession adds further resistance. Adding a new strategic investor to continue R&D efforts and develop other, nondisplay applications should viewed as favorable for C3Nano's ability to navigate changing market conditions and trends. Companies should examine what AgNW-based TCFs can do for their materials needs."

U.S. Department of Energy announces $230 million for Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important


"Quickly following a recent announcement from its ARPA-E subagency, the DOE announced the ARDP to help U.S. private advanced nuclear developers demonstrate their technology. This builds on previous funding of $305 million for fuel cycle research and development and $267 million for reactor concepts research. Critically, the ARDP will provide $160 million in its first year to support building two reactors that can be operational within five to seven years. It will also support two to five advanced reactor designs with longer commercialization timelines. This announcement is a strong positive sign for NuScale's first commercial project due online in 2026 and for advanced nuclear commercialization efforts in the U.S. overall."

Personal care brands' role in prevention of coronavirus

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

Drishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"Unilever recently published new patents detailing an emulsion coating technology for its personal care and cosmetic products that acts as a film to prevent external pollutants (including microorganisms) from lingering on a person's skin. Dow Personal Care has been developing similar technology for a while, but such innovations could be attractive to consumers amid the coronavirus pandemic as preventative measures. While details of the technology are unclear, companies should move quickly to develop or secure access to their own technology options in this field and watch for the reception of any initial product launches."

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Jack Ma departs SoftBank's board as the globalization of the tech ecosystem continues to unravel

YuanSheng Yu Photo_edited

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


"Ma's resignation is not surprising, as the Alibaba founder continues to redirect his focus to new endeavors after stepping down as Alibaba's chairman last year. However, it is another major blow to the global tech ecosystem as countries prioritize domestic initiatives. The U.S. and China have started to financially part ways with significant drops in VC investments and acquisitions. The split between Ma and SoftBank is also a microcosm of growing concerns of Japan exiting China and focusing on its economic security. While at their core, these trends are primarily driven by geopolitical tensions, the impact on the tech ecosystem will be felt, as the fluid exchange of capital, knowledge, and technology will likely come to a halt this decade."

Just announces two partnerships in the same week

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Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"The first partnership announced is with European ingredient manufacturer Emsland Group. Emsland will be manufacturing Just's mung bean protein (for Just Egg), adding capacity beyond Just's self-owned 30,000 ft2 facility in the U.S. The second partnership announced is with U.S.-based Michael Foods, subsidiary of Post Holdings. Michael Foods will be manufacturing and distributing Just Egg to food service customers. This bolsters its already lengthy roster of manufacturing and distribution partners for Just Egg, last expanded a month ago. Plant-based options are clearly expanding and scaling, and now is the time to develop new products that are differentiated."

Sony plans to release AI-enabled image sensors, improving privacy and performance, but they are not the only option

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance



"Sony announced that it would release Microsoft Azure AI-enabled image sensors. The sensors have built-in logic layers that can process an image at the edge using user-customizable AI models. Unlike conventional sensors, the new sensors output metadata instead of image information, reducing the data size and privacy concerns. Companies relying on using large numbers of cameras for event monitoring and asset tracking should monitor the development progress of devices with the sensors and evaluate the ROI of using them. In the meantime, those who do not need images should be aware of alternative technologies like UWB radar sensors, which offer higher anonymity, can see through packaging, and require fewer devices."

El Paso Electric's grid-scale solar and solar-plus-storage projects show continuing price reductions in the U.S.

Benjamin Torda

Benjamin Torda, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Facing a mandate of power sector decarbonization by 2045, El Paso Electric received approval for two projects due online in the summer of 2022. Notably, the 100 MW solar project has a power purchase agreement (PPA) of $14.99/MWh, one of the lowest prices so far in the U.S. A second project will add 100 MW/50 MWh solar-plus-storage with a price of $20.99/MWh. These projects will help offset 91 MW of capacity from two units at the Rio Grande natural gas steam turbine plant set for retirement in 2022. With the price of solar in the U.S. continuing to fall, companies should start planning for how low energy prices can speed up decarbonization opportunities in industrial sectors."

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Samsung spins off artificial sunlight technology that mimics a sunlit window

Jerrold Wang Lux ResearchJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"This prototyped wall-mounted LED panel can provide the full spectrum of natural light with UVB to facilitate the body's synthesis of vitamin D. It can simulate the change of sunlight angles from sunrise to sunset and allows users to personalize the color temperature and brightness using Samsung's smart home app SmartThings. This has high potential in markets where indoor space lacks access to sunlight. The product is an example of how IoT tech enables home appliances to provide a personalized experience and offer solutions not available from incumbent products. The technology's business success remains to be seen, as the cost is still unknown; however, the integration with a smart home platform offers an advantage over competitor CoeLux."

Sumitomo Chemical's investment in scent sensor to detect COVID-19 will not see immediate return on investment

Lisheng Gao

Lisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance



"Sumitomo Chemical is offering nearly $1 million to NanoScent, an Israeli startup, to develop scent sensors (e-noses) for detecting coronavirus and other viral respiratory infections. The sensors detect viral infections from nasal exhalations within 30 to 60 seconds. Currently, the sensors are being tested at hospitals in Israel and Europe. Since the development of the pandemic, we've seen many companies seeking technological solutions to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Clients should be aware that sensors using breath scent to detect viral infections have to be highly selective to viral infection-specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and should expect it to take several years to bring the sensors into practical use."

Coveris' new paper-and-plastic solution may be worse than plain old plastic packaging

Drishti Masand - Research Associate at Lux Research

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


"The key differentiator for Coveris' new packaging solution is the precut tape separation technology to split up the paper that's used on the outside and the flexible-film plastic on the inside for a "sustainable" solution. Unfortunately, this solution relies primarily on consumers to separate the different layers, which is the solution's fatal flaw; companies cannot rely on consumers to change their behavior. Companies need to recognize the distinction between novel ideas and feasible ideas – a better solution would be a soluble debonding plastic film lining, such as those from SmartSolve or No Waste Technology."

Fitbit to build a lower-cost ventilator

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


"Fitbit CEO James Park has announced that Fitbit would be leveraging its sensor supply chain to design a lower-cost ventilator. Fitbit's primary strength has always been the ability to leverage the enormous data sets collected from a large user base, and it is unclear how it might be able to leverage that differentiating feature into a meaningful product. While the company claims that the primary skill it brings is the ability to leverage its sensor supply chain, there isn't a lot of evidence that suggests that this will be a valuable ventilator. The fact that this was announced a week after a poor Q1 earnings report and has been explicitly named as a temporary endeavor does not bode well for Fitbit as a viable use of resources."

C3Nano engages with Nitto Denko for a strategic investment in a round aimed for $15 million

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior AnalystVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @roznyatovskiy Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore


"According to viral speculation, untethered AR glasses with a lidar sensor, no camera, and a hand gesture recognition user interface will be fast enough to sense the 3D environment and render virtual content onto displays. Such a combination is a hoax at best. One lidar cannot capture both short and long ranges without a camera. Apple's strategy is in amusing consumers with AR, which is an excuse to furnish cameras on every user and capitalize on hijacking our focus and attention (e.g., stand-alone lidar cannot distinguish two similar boxes of cereal from competing brands). The stories further boast a sleek design, which would not be compatible with the above functionalities. Companies should wait until around 2023 to see the rumors come true."

 

 

 

 

 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

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

- Blog: Why Hydrogen and Why Now?

- Blog: 6 Ways to Supercharge the Circular Economy with Digital Technologies

- Press Release: Decarbonization of the Global Energy Trade: A $500 Billion Zero-Carbon Opportunity

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