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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 15, 2019

Lux Research
November 15, 2019

Each week our researchers gather the biggest headlines and trends and provide their expert analysis on major developments in the news. Our analysts 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 from this past week below.

Each Friday we will highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week

Planned Parenthood continues its march into digital health with new reproductive services finder app

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate | @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"This app represents a powerful means of using limited resources to maximize access to care for patients who face geographic and legislative barriers. In many ways, Planned Parenthood is the poster child for the paradigm shifts Lux is seeing in the healthcare industry. The nonprofit is known for providing quality, low-cost, timely preventative care like cancer screenings and contraception, and with its recent loss of Title X funding (representing 20% of its total funding), it is operating on a very tight budget. Companies should see these forays into digital by Planned Parenthood as a bellwether for the role of digital in healthcare at large."

John Deere enters into drone autonomous spraying with Volocopter partnership

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

The partnership will apply Volocopter's large carrying capacity (400 lbs) vertical take-off and landing drone to agriculture spraying and seeding applications. This move signals a shift in Volocopter's strategy and coincides with an emerging drone spraying industry made more believable by publicized application licensing and drone fleet expansions in Asia. Besides early entrant Yamaha, few equipment developers engage in drone development, but Deere's move aligns with its acquisition toward automation of Blue River Technology. Companies, this drone's payload makes the system compatible with a wider product selection, but drone range and business model issues remain. Other companies and developers are also investigating larger spraying drones."

Goldman Sachs and Apple come under fire for allegations of algorithmic gender bias in credit card spending limits

12191-thumb-squareCole McCollum, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Following several allegations of gender discrimination against women, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, the card's issuer, publicly defended the company's decision-making process, stating that "we have not and never will make decisions based on factors like gender." What Goldman Sachs failed to take into account is that machine learning algorithms excel at finding latent features in data – features that are not directly used in training a machine learning model but are inferred from other features that are. Companies should be aware that propagating bias found in historical datasets is one of the biggest challenges in implementing machine learning and should explore bias detection and AI explainability tools that can help alleviate this issue."

Nestlé and Corbion team up to challenge traditional protein sources for plant-based products

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

"The partnership will combine Corbion's large-scale microalgae fermentation capabilities and Nestlé's plant-based products portfolio to create algae-based protein ingredients for plant-based applications. Compared to traditional plant proteins, algae's attractive amino acid composition will speak to consumer demands for nutritional food substitutes; however, we are doubtful of algae protein's cost-competitiveness and how algae prices will impact a higher-valued food market. While Corbion appears to be well-positioned as an algae protein supplier after its acquisition of TerraVia, companies should watch to see how the project delivers on costs and competes with other algae-based ingredient developers like Triton Algae Innovations or Allma."

Google has access to personal health data of millions of Americans without the need to notify patients

13275-thumb-square (1)Nardev Ramanathan, Ph.D., Analyst | @Nardev_R Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Google might have your health data, and you may not even know it. Dubbed "Project Nightingale," the deal with Ascension enables Google to gather millions of patient health records. Google has been quick to respond by saying the sharing of such highly sensitive data with tech developers is not uncommon, and it wasn't announced earlier due to the early stage of the work. While we can't speculate on the legalities, companies must keep in mind that data privacy and security are mission-critical in gaining wider trust and acceptance from all health stakeholders. Google's insatiable ambition to gain supremacy in healthcare without paying regard to this critical factor risks jeopardizing everything it has worked for to gain momentum in this space."

Neste partners with Ravago to convert over 200,000 tpa of plastic waste to fossil feedstock alternatives

Hewage, GihanGihan Hewage, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"While many large companies have made partnership announcements to develop advanced recycling technologies, partnerships to actually acquire waste feedstocks have been few and far between. While Ravago itself does not collect waste, as a mechanical recycler, it is already well connected to today's waste collection infrastructure. Even though Neste's chemical recycling will require unrecyclable waste that is not collected, its partnership with Ravago sets it on the path toward securing feedstock."

Microsoft and Nokia collaborate to accelerate digital transformation of enterprises with private 5G networks in the cloud

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate 
Lux Take: Very Important

"This partnership will allow customers to use Nokia's private LTE and 5G networks to run applications on the Azure Cloud. As Nokia is one of the few companies to offer the whole ecosystem of 5G equipment, including network antennas, chips, and gateways, this collaboration will help both companies onboard enterprise customers who were previously not able to run cloud applications due to latency or bandwidth constraints. Although this is apparently a pre-integrated solution with no ready-to-use product, it has the potential to make private 5G networks and cloud service deployment easier, even more so with a managed service provider like BT, the first to offer this service. Companies should test if this solution fits their own 5G use cases."

Solvay opens two thermoplastic composite innovation centers; partners with Lockheed Martin

11996-thumb-squareCecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"These innovation centers come on the heels of Solvay's expansion of its thermoplastic production lines and are complementary to the company's foray into thermoplastics. As thermoplastics continue to grow, it will be crucial for companies to develop thermoplastic-specific processing systems and validate new use cases, including hybrid parts. Companies can expect further partnership from Solvay to explore thermoplastics and development of industry-specific products."

Waymo is the first autonomous vehicle developer to test truly driverless vehicles with the public

Lewie Roberts Lux ResearchLewie Roberts, Senior Research Associate | @roberts_lewie Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Until now, all public rides conducted by autonomous vehicle (AV) companies have included a safety driver behind the wheel. Waymo is taking the first steps beyond this by providing members of its Early Rider Program (nonpaying public under NDA) AV rides without a safety driver in highly geofenced areas. Frustratingly, Waymo is currently only providing a hand-wave explanation regarding precisely what metrics the company has achieved that make it confident in its ability to go fully driverless. We suspect that there will be more transparency if Waymo achieves empirical proof of the capabilities of its tech. If this data becomes available, companies should use it to make predictions about where else truly driverless testbeds will appear."

Behind Alibaba's $38 billion Single's Day sales is digital transformation in the retail industry in China

2908-thumb-squareJerrold Wang, Analyst | @JerroldWang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"On this day, Alibaba's sales reached RMB 10 billion ($1.4 billion) in two minutes and finally settled at $38 billion, which surpassed its 2018 record of $30.7 billion. Behind the online sales numbers are two major digital transformations in China's retail market. First, brands' influence on retail is shrinking, as algorithm-generated recommendations and opinion leaders on social media are having more weight on consumers' buying decisions. Second, the retail supply chain is shortening, as many opinion leaders have enough followers that they launch their own brands by selling white-label products. Those selling consumer products to China should consider adjusting their sales strategy according to these fundamental consumer behavior changes."

Singapore to introduce incentives for LNG bunkering ahead of IMO 2020

holly havelHolly Havel, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"As IMO 2020 approaches, the marine sector is under increasing pressure to transition to low-sulfur fuels like LNG. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which has invested considerable resources to build out its LNG bunkering infrastructure, is offering new incentives to drive adoption of cleaner fuels and maintain its position as a leading bunkering hub. The incentives will provide concessions on certain fees for ships that install engines that accommodate cleaner fuels and use LNG bunker fuels during port stay. While LNG is the most promising near-term solution, companies should consider potential implications of IMO's target to reduce the industry's carbon emissions by 50% by 2050, which will not be feasible with LNG alone."

Equinor's Energy Perspectives highlights EVs and efficiency, with less emphasis on hydrogen and innovation

457-thumb-squareMichael Holman, Ph.D., Vice President, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

Equinor Chief Economist Eirik Wærness presented the Norwegian oil major's Energy Perspectives 2019, highlighting three potential scenarios for energy transition to 2050. He noted that compared to others, Equinor's is more bullish on electric vehicle adoption (we agree) and improvements in energy efficiency while not relying as much on carbon capture and storage. However, even in its most aggressive scenario ("Renewal"), there seems to be little role for tech innovation beyond ongoing improvements in current technologies – for instance, Equinor sees little growth in hydrogen (#11 on our 20 for 20). Studies like this are valuable for economic and (geo)political insight into the energy transition, but companies should monitor innovation as well."

Toyota and BYD deepen ties with JV aimed at commercializing electric vehicles

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The announcement builds on an existing partnership aimed at developing electric vehicles, with the recent announcement formalizing their work together through a joint venture. Toyota has been very active in developing electrified products in China in 2019, previously announcing a battery supply deal with BYD competitor CATL, a partnership to develop autonomous vehicles with, and supplying fuel cell technology to bus companies. Despite China loosening restrictions on domestic ownership of car companies, Toyota is clearly showing it values working with domestic partners, a strategy companies should also adopt."

Neste partners with Ravago to convert over 200,000 tpa of plastic waste to fossil feedstock alternatives

Harshit SharmaHarshit Sharma, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Suncor Energy has signed a multiyear agreement with Microsoft as its primary cloud provider and partner for deployment of IIoT and analytics solutions in the oil sands. Suncor joins a long list of oil and gas companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell, that use Azure and are gradually pivoting from on-premises data storage. The partnership is the first major collaboration in the oil sands, which as a sector holds the advantage of tapping into successes/failures from other geographies of the industry. From the outset, one practice Suncor can directly implement is to build a healthy pipeline of operational use cases and applications, which will complement the strategic collaboration for higher success in digital transformation."

Collaboration creates a way for U.S. electric utilities to share cybersecurity reports on vendors

Katrina WesterhofKatrina Westerhof, Director, Research
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Formed as a joint venture by American Electric Power and Fortress Information Security, the "Asset to Vendor" network allows utilities to recover some of the cost of their vendor security assessments by sharing them with peer utilities, which pay a small fee for each assessment. This isn't likely to change the behavior of utilities regarding cybersecurity because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's cybersecurity rules mandate such assessments as part of a utility's risk management procedures, but it does offer to reduce the cost of an otherwise expensive process. Sharing data is not a foreign concept in cybersecurity, and it is key to not only better but also more manageable security; this partnership is an extension of that idea."





- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 8, 2019

- Executive Summary: 20 for 20 Annual Report (Free Download)

- Client Success Story: Fortune 500 Company Relies on Lux to Make Informed Decisions about Potential Partnerships (Free Download)

- Lux in the News: The Independent: Project Nightingale: Google Secretly Collecting Medical Data of Millions Triggers Federal Inquiry

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