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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up November 22, 2019

Lux Research
November 22, 2019

Every week our experts round up the biggest headlines and trends and provide their 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

Federal inquiry opened on Google's "Project Nightingale"

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

"Just days ago, we highlighted Google's questionable health data collection practices. Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is investigating this case. Digital technologies have penetrated healthcare use cases so rapidly that authorities have hardly been able to keep up and develop policies and best practices. This in turn has led to a "gold-rush" mentality, where tech giants are exploiting this loophole and scrambling to gain supremacy. Companies should keep abreast of these developments and ensure they operate and/or liaise with developers who are in compliance with data handing and governance best practices. Once gone, reputational loss as a trusted health partner will be difficult, if not impossible, to earn back."

Hawaiian Electric Company (HEC) partners with Jupiter Intelligence to evaluate risks from climate change and natural disasters

Lisheng GaoLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Jupiter Intelligence recently partnered with HEC to provide ongoing risk analytics services across the five major islands of Hawaii. It supports HEC in planning its business and infrastructure with a 50-year vision of the future of climate impact. Regions like Hawaii are highly susceptible to climate change, extreme weather, and volcano eruptions. Unlike on the continents, doing businesses on islands, no matter the size, requires more effort to assess the weather and climate risks, which is usually difficult to do. Companies doing business in areas with high climate risk need to be using digital tools to accurately develop their strategies for those regions."

Plantix raises $7.3 Series A to improve detection of crop damage

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

"Led by RTP Global, the funding round included Piton Capital and existing investors Atlantic Labs and Index Ventures. Plantix's mobile platform offers the characterization of approximately 600 plant symptoms of diseases, pest damage, and nutrient deficiencies for 45 different crops using image recognition software. As of now, the company serves more than 1 million farmers in India and plans to expand to Indonesia and Vietnam. With smallholder farms in South Asia among the most vulnerable to climate change-related increases in crop losses due to disease and insect pests, low-cost digital services that detect crop damage are of high interest; do not miss the opportunity to engage with this demographic through such companies (e.g., Imago AI)."

Researchers develop a pre-trained model library with more than 140,000 models for materials informatics research

XIAO ZHONGXiao Zhong, Ph.D., Analyst | @conanxzxz Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The library, XenonPy.MDL, is developed by researchers from the Institute of Statistical Mathematics (ISM) and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) (Japan). The current version has more than 140,000 models on the physical, chemical, electronic, thermodynamic, or mechanical properties of small molecules, polymers, and inorganics. Moreover, the same research group has demonstrated material property prediction with small datasets using the library and transfer learning. Companies should leverage this publicly available library, if they are not already."

Amcor's eyebrow-raising "PET is the clear choice" initiative is misleading

14312-thumb-squareDrishti Masand, Research Associate | @DrishtiMasand Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The way Amcor's "Choose Plastic" initiative is presented is almost the same as Ball Corp's for aluminum cups. PET is relatively more recyclable than other plastics, and Amcor highlights some obvious advantages for PET. However, it is unclear if using almost the same messaging as other companies, offering alternate material options, will persuade consumers. Amcor claims that PET is infinitely recyclable; however, this claim is not true with current recycling infrastructure – the recyclates are limited to five recycle cycles. The company's claim is based on potential future recycling infrastructure that doesn't exist currently."

Xpeng raises $400 million, as investors aren't afraid of a BEV slowdown in China

Robinson, ChristopherChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"Despite a slowdown in BEV sales following China's reduction in subsidies, Xpeng's recent funding round shows that interest remains for privately held companies. Although competitor Nio, which we have identified as the other leading BEV startup in China, has sold more vehicles in 2019, its stock has plummeted, as investors are concerned with a trade war and falling subsidies. Companies are encouraged to continue viewing Xpeng as a leader in the space that will most likely survive industry consolidation, while Nio's decision to go public has significantly harmed its ability to raise funding, and sales are likely to slip behind Xpeng's in the future."

Apple research studies collect much-needed data on hearing, heart health, and especially menstrual cycles

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

"With its newest smartwatch, Apple is launching three new research studies regarding the newest capabilites: hearing, menstrual cycle tracking, and heart health. Of special interest is the menstrual cycle tracking, as there have been few comprehensive studies of the menstrual cycle. Right now, period trackers are little more than calendar apps, but with an influx of data, they may be able to provide meaningful, actionable insights into women's health, beyond traditional fertility tracking. Companies should be monitoring the outcomes of the menstrual cycle research trial to see how they might be impacted by potential new information."

AMP Robotics raises $16 million to scale waste-sorting robots

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

Efficient sorting of plastic waste to enable usable waste streams for emerging recycling technologies is still a major unmet need, and in general, development of the collection, sorting, and distribution infrastructure is being neglected by companies trying to address plastic waste. While this round includes only financial VCs, expect to see venturing arms from material suppliers like Dow or CPG brands like Unilever making investments to help build the necessary ecosystems in the future."

Plant Response and Koch Biological Solutions merge to improve penetration

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

The merged company, Plant Response Biotech, will leverage Plant Response's expertise in developing biostimulants and identifying valuable traits, with Koch Biological Solutions' strength in the microbiome and biologicals product development. The merger comes at the heels of Plant Response's successful Series B round in 2018 and Koch Bio's launch of its first biological products targeting improved crop nutrition. Both companies elucidate and establish product modes of action, and therefore, the merger should strengthen this attribute. Koch Bio also brings the potential to engage in the biopesticide market. Companies, one-product-line companies will struggle in the future as aggregated bio-based crop protection and nutrition SMEs emerge."

Repsol acquires stake in Belmont Technology as momentum in exploration grows

holly havelHolly Havel, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Repsol continues to make strategic moves around subsurface evaluation technologies, citing the company's partnership with Emerson announced earlier this year. The press release reveals that Repsol has been an early adopter of Belmont's technology platform, suggesting that the company is still involved in exploration projects despite earlier claims that surfaced in 2018. However, it is quite possible that the investment in Belmont will primarily support ongoing efforts with Emerson to license its exploration technology portfolio to the geoscience community. While companies should monitor Repsol's activity, the announcement is a strong indication that digital platforms like Belmont's are already making an impact on exploration workflows."

Israeli medical center claims to be the first fully VR-based hospital in the world

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

"Many surgeons in Israel already use AR to simplify complex procedures, and autistic children use VR systems to get relief from sensory overload. It's perhaps no surprise that Israel announced the world's first fully VR-based hospital. All departments will be using the XRHealth VR platform from cognitive therapy to pain relief. While individual AR/VR use cases in healthcare, from training doctors to treating patients, have seen success, it remains to be seen how an entire hospital will successfully integrate and operationalize VR technology on a day-to-day basis. Companies should monitor the implementation of this platform closely as the learnings here will be informative in engaging other healthcare systems for similar business opportunities."

Not yet dead, Workhorse leans on unnamed financiers, aerospace and defense contractor Moog, and sister company Lordstown Motors to survive

11997-thumb-squareChloe Holzinger, Analyst | @ChloeHolzinger Ico twitter
Lux Take: Ignore

"Workhorse has had a difficult year, to say the least. In February, its President and COO Duane Hughes replaced its founder Steve Burns as CEO; by April, it was clear that unless the company could raise additional capital and sell its VTOL business, it would be bankrupt by year end. In the past six months, Workhorse has managed to accomplish both of these, securing $25 million from unnamed investors and selling its VTOL business for a paltry $4 million to aerospace and defense contractor Moog, which has also taken a stake in Workhorse's last-mile drone delivery system. Moving forward, Workhorse hopes to continue receiving licensing royalties from spinout Lordstown Motors as Workhorse focuses on commercializing its electric delivery trucks."





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