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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 20, 2020

Lux Research
November 20, 2020

Every day our researchers comb through the top innovation headlines and provide their expert analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across industries. Our analysts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking the developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore.

On Fridays we highlight our Lux Take on the news for the week. Check out our thoughts on the latest emerging technology and innovation news for this past week below.

Genomatica announces big scale-up for bio-based nylon

Holman, Mike

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Bio-based nylon has been a holy grail for polymer developers, as it's widely used in products like apparel where consumers and brands value sustainable materials – but previous efforts, such as adipic acid routes from Verdezyne and Rennovia, have flopped based on poor economics. Now, Genomatica is ramping up its previously announced synbio process for nylon precursor caprolactam, apparently targeting a 50 MT annual capacity pilot facility. Given its track record in production of other key intermediates like 1,4-butanediol (BDO) and strong network of partners, companies should regard it as a leader in bio-based nylon and look for further progress but watch to see how production and cost metrics come out as it scales."

Naver Labs shares impressive research on AMBIDEX task-learning robot

Kern, Josh

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


"The lab developed a robot capable of learning tasks like peeling a potato, opening a beer bottle, and washing dishes through human demonstration. Researchers trained the robot to do the tasks by utilizing a teleoperated haptic feedback control system, in which the human could feel the forces exerted on the robot. The lab claims that the robot could then generalize those tasks and perform them autonomously after only one demonstration The lab's unique approach blends together supervised learning (via human demonstration) with reinforcement learning (where the robot learns through trial and error in a simulated environment). The approach will move the needle for home and service robots, for which explicit programming is not realistic."

Dow launching digital sales platform for polyurethanes

8710-thumb-squareAnthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst | @MobbDeepTech Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important


"The portal will apparently combine features of order simplification with basic customization tools. The tool will collect data from the customization to inform machine learning predictive approaches, but Dow recognizes that implementation of that is years away. Clients can expect more product-specific channels like this to spring up in 2021."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

Koch Separation Solutions expands its dairy separations portfolio with Relco buy

9107-thumb-square-1

Abhirabh Basu, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Koch Membrane Systems has rebranded to Koch Separation Solutions with its aquisition of ion exchange player Eco-Tec and the recent buy of Relco, a thermal processing equipment provider for the food and beverage and dairy industries. After decades of focusing on membranes, Koch is adding bolt-on technologies to offer a comprehensive solution to industrial end users. The food and beverage industry is among the largest users of separation technologies. While thermal processing is dominant, the market is seeing fast-growing membrane use and a demand for selective extraction techniques. Koch is focusing on M&A and partnerships to offer new products and services, including high temperature-resistant TIDAL forward osmosis membranes from FTS."

PureCycle joins the SPAC brigade, unlocking unicorn status and raising funds to scale up

Holman, Mike

Michael Holman, Ph.D., VP, Research | @MichaelHolmanLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The polypropylene (PP) recycler and Procter & Gamble spinout agreed to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to list on the NASDAQ and raise another $300 million in equity funding (to add to the $250 million bond it placed last month) – achieving an eye-popping $1.2 billion valuation. PP is one of the more challenging plastics to recycle, with rates of only around 1% today; clients should watch PureCycle's progress to see if it can make a dent in this figure by delivering on its promise to provide virgin-quality PP through its solvent-based process as it scales. With a strong pedigree and partners and now a massive war chest, PureCycle is best-positioned to help integrate PP more fully into the circular economy." 

New Alexa feature Care Hub allows users to remotely check in on their aging family members at home

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

"The Care Hub allows in-home Alexa devices to automatically notify users via the Alexa app about how their aging family members are doing by sharing information on how they are interacting with Alexa devices and triggering a warning if no such interaction is detected for a certain period of time. The Care Hub enables users to ensure the well-being of aging family members without interrupting their daily activities. However, clients in the smart home and digital health space should approach this feature with some skepticism, given that it works only when the seniors are used to interacting with smart home devices on a regular basis and that some users may still prefer straightforward but more interrupting methods like calls and text messages."

C3.ai hopes to put AI on the stock exchange with IPO filing

Michael Sullivan, AnalystMichael Sullivan, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Industrial analytics startup C3.ai filed a registration with the SEC for an initial public offering on the NYSE under the ticker symbol "AI." Led by former Oracle executive Tom Siebel, C3.ai's move comes as the company builds momentum with its all-in-one platform for industrial analytics based on machine learning. While the company's claim on the AI moniker appears pretentious given all the other more advanced AI products on the market, the product has captured the attention of users. Lux Research recently increased its profile rating to "Strong Positive" due to the company's added features and recent partnerships with oil and gas and financial services firms. Those interested should consider C3 on the industrial analytics shortlist."

The Chemical and Materials Company of 2040

Quanergy's new lidar for smart manufacturing will face challenges in market penetration

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Quanergy introduced new lidar sensors for applications in manufacturing and warehousing environments. The company claims that the lidar sensors help generate a 3D map of the surrounding environment and provide high performance up to 200 m. Despite these claims, the new lidar is still mechanical spinning lidar, meaning it could still be too expensive for mass adoption, especially given that computer vision and high-resolution radar technologies are more powerful and affordable than ever. In the meantime, the new lidar sensors are suitable for monitoring applications in large open spaces, where using many nonlidar sensors can be even more expensive than adopting only one lidar sensor.

Yotta Energy raises $5 million to start commercial production of its modular panel-level storage technology

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance

"Yotta Energy closed its seed round, raising $5 million from Fiftysix Investments, EDP Ventures, Skyview Ventures, and other undisclosed investors; this deal brings its total amount raised from venture investments and grants to approximately $8 million to date. While other module-level systems, such as Enphase's microinverters and SolarEdge's power optimizers, have proved successful, previous attempts to couple storage with solar modules that looked promising (see JLM Energy) failed. Yotta Energy claims its solution will have a competitive price point compared to alternative stationary storage systems, but the company is still working to finalize its pricing. It remains to be seen if Yotta can successfully prove overall cost reductions."

 

Nonprofit blockchain developer Iota joins project funded by NEDO to build AI-based predictive maintenance platform

MirajMiraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Ignore


"According to Iota, its blockchain-based predictive maintenance (PdM) solution will tackle issues like data security, digitization of assets, and data sharing. However, it is important to know that Iota's role in this project is limited to sharing industrial data through a distributed ledger, whereas a complete PdM solution requires three elements: sense, connect, and analyze. In addition, Iota is solving a problem that doesn't exist. Blockchain is useful only in applications where multiple stakeholders who have less trust among each other operate, such as industrial data marketplaces. Companies should be skeptical about the use of blockchain in this project."


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