Every day our researchers read through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert opinions 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 final week of May.
Bowery's $300 million Series C raises no doubt for the growth of controlled-environment agriculture (CEA)
Laura Krishfield, Senior Research Associate
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive
"Led by Fidelity Management & Research, the round included existing investors GV, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, Temasek, and Groupe Artémis and new investors Amplo and Gaingels, among others. According to the press release, this round is the largest private fundraise to date for an indoor farming company and brings Bowery's total funding to $475 million. This event follows Bowery's launch of an R&D facility called Farm X that will focus on breeding seeds for CEA and developing new crop offerings for Bowery, including strawberries, root vegetables, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Clients, CEA is experiencing a spur of funding that is propelling innovation in crop varieties by leading players; partner here now to secure future financial returns."
Japan allocates $3.4 billion to accelerate development of its hydrogen economy
Runeel Daliah, Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important
"The funds will be used over the next 10 years and go toward two main initiatives: $650 million will go toward the development of electrolysis for local production of green hydrogen, while the remaining $2.8 billion will go toward the development of a large-scale supply chain for hydrogen. Japan has an ambitious goal of increasing its hydrogen demand by more than 1 million tons by 2030 (from a current 2 million tons today), and the size of the funding indicates the sheer cost of developing a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen storage and transport will be crucial for Japan's hydrogen economy, as it will rely on imports of cheap and low-carbon hydrogen from regions like Australia, the Middle East, and South America."
Mitsui Chemicals and Toyota Tsusho adopt Neste's biobased hydrocarbons for plastic production
Anthony Schiavo, Research Director | @MobbDeepTech
Lux Take: Very Important
"The groups will use a mass balance approach to market the resulting plastics products; resulting products will not be 100% bio-based despite some suggestive headlines. This move isn't unexpected, as it comes amid stronger adoption of both drop-in bio-based feedstocks and mass balance approaches. The key question remains: What is the value of mass balance certified plastic? Those interested should monitor the adoption of these plastics to understand the answer."
Singaporean precision medicine startup Hummingbird Bioscience nets $125 million in Series C funding led by Novo Holdings
PepsiCo launches new functional sparkling water for mental stamina and relaxation
"The brand, named Soulboost, has two varieties targeting mental stamina (using panax ginseng) and relaxation (using L-theanine). This launch signals the growing interest of the leading beverage companies in functional products for health and wellness. Among other examples are Nestlé's acquisition of Essentia Water and Ocean Spray's new product line B1U. As the functional beverage segment becomes crowded, the defining factors of success will be how the companies can validate wellness claims, maximize product effects through personalization, and pick up early signals of emerging consumer demands. Those interested should allocate more attention to R&D and investment on these differentiators for long-term success."
Daimler Buses opens mobile 3D printing center for spare part production
"Daimler Buses and OMNIplus have opened a center for the fast production and delivery of spare parts for Daimler's buses. For now, it has one small mobile container – equipped with an HP Jet Fusion 3D printer and post-processing equipment – at the BusWorld Home service center in Hamburg, but it plans to expand to other locations in the future. Currently, Daimler is working on digitizing the manufacturing process for around 7,000 bus parts and will deliver these parts in a few days rather than several weeks using this mobile center. Those with stakes in manufacturing should view this project as a successful case study and consider developing similar business cases where 3D printing can simplify logistics and reduce production lead times."
Ohio State University researchers look into CO₂ plume geothermal technology combining carbon storage with geothermal energy extraction
Jinze Dai, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance
"CO2 plume geothermal (CPG) technology utilizes supercritical CO2 as the working fluid to extract heat from a geothermal reservoir. The heat carried by CO2 is then turned into power using a supercritical CO2 gas turbine. According to an article by an Ohio State University researcher, CPG can produce more power at a lower depth than traditional water-based geothermal systems due to the strong thermosiphon effect and low viscosity of CO2. Though CPG is an appealing concept, it has not gained commercial traction, as key players like TerraCOH have not raised sufficient funding to launch demonstrations. Companies should expect the research on CPG to grow but recognize that it will not be commercialized until the CO2 supply chain is developed."
Powerhouse Energy signs agreement for rollout of plastic-to-hydrogen plants in Greece and Hungary
Runeel Daliah, Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore
"Powerhouse develops a plastic gasification technology for production of hydrogen. The company generated significant hype in 2018 when it first announced ambitious plans for 200 plastic-to-hydrogen plants in the U.K., but its momentum significantly faltered, as it has yet to launch a commercial facility – its first facility originally planned for 2020 with Peel Environment appears to still be under construction. This new agreement for expansion in Greece and Hungary will do little to change the company's fortunes."