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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 2, 2020

Lux Research
October 2, 2020

Every week our researchers go through the top tech innovation headlines and provide their analysis on important updates, trends, and developments across all 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.

Amazon makes the first round of investments from its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund

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

"All five companies have decarbonizing technologies that will help Amazon reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040; the technologies focus on low-carbon concrete, recycled battery materials, electric vehicles, and digital tools to measure carbon impact and material tracing. Each company received different undisclosed amounts, and the fund is still open for more companies and technologies. Billion-dollar technology companies are as yet an untapped source of funding for sustainability initiatives, and startups would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity and see how their products can integrate into these companies' operations."

New report details Uber's immense technical failures in its autonomous vehicle division

Kern, Josh

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

"The reporting, in which several Uber ATG managers were interviewed, exposes the lack of progress the company has made in developing a self-driving vehicle. The poor results are attributed to problems developing a simulator, infighting about how cautious the group's testing needed to be following the high-profile crash in 2018, and a lack of productization experience from the former university researchers in the group. Despite plans to launch a revenue-generating robotaxi service in 2022, the group couldn't even get one of its prototypes to successfully shuttle employees between two Pittsburgh offices located a mile away from each other. Those interested should see this as very poor progress for Uber in a field where leaders like Waymo are far ahead."

Lux Research - Newsletter Research

FDA launches Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCE)

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

"The FDA has announced a new center to oversee the regulation of digital health products. This comes after the launch of new software as a medical device (SaaMD) guidance and the development of the pre-cert program three years ago, indicating that the agency is leveling up its understanding of these tools and involvement in regulation. Critically, it has announced hiring plans for software engineers, which is a shift to having experts in software doing the actual vetting of software. Companies should expect increased scrutiny of SaaMD products for healthcare but also enjoy even clearer regulatory guidance moving forward."

The European investment bank is the main investor in Europe's new circular economy venture fund

Arij-van-Berkel-Lux-900px-squareArij van Berkel, Ph.D., Director, Research | @aivanberkel Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

The European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) was announced during our Genius 2020 conference. Now, one week later, it announces its first investment and thus the official launch. The ECBF is a venture fund dedicated exclusively to circular economy technologies and biobased chemicals and materials along the entire biobased value chain. The European Investment Bank (EIB) provides EUR 100 million investment for the fund which has a target fund size of EUR 250 million (see the fact-sheet). Other investors to date include Corbion, PreZero, and the Hettich family office. This fund is the next step in line with the Biobased Industries PPP and such as Biobase Europe and the BPF. The EU is serious about scaling the circular biobased economy."

AppHarvest goes public to become the center of controlled indoor farms

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"AppHarvest, a greenhouse farming company situated in Central Appalachia, U.S., has struck a deal with Novus Capital for an initial public offering on the NASDAQ. Through the IPO, the company will generate $475 million in gross proceeds. The capital will go toward AppHarvest's 60-acre indoor farm in Morehead. It expects its first harvest of tomatoes in early 2021. Expect construction of additional facilities with this level of funding. AppHarvest claims its central-eastern U.S. location opens access to 75% of the continental U.S. within a day and generates labor opportunities for a struggling region. Clients, expansion of greenhouse facilities requires significant capital, and it is not surprising to a see a player take this alternate route."

With vertical ag heating up, BASF looks toward satisfying demand from autonomous production systems

Haslun, JoshJoshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst | @JHaslun  Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"BASF Vegetable Seeds is taking a page out of the vertical ag startup playbook and utilizing sensors, cameras, and automation to develop opportunities beyond optimizing its seed production. It will also develop growing recipes (also referred to as prescriptions) for existing seed varieties as well as future varieties specifically developed for next-generation production systems. It is working toward these goals through the AGROS program launched in May 2020. Companies like iFarm are already taking the approach of linking specific seeds to specific recipes. As the demand for produce production with vertical or other next-generation production systems grows, there will be a demand to satisfy, but that demand will also require data."

Wireless energy harvesting sweat sensors are one step closer to reality

Lisheng Gao, Analyst at Lux ResearchLisheng Gao, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"A research group from Caltech and Peking University developed triboelectric energy harvesting sweat sensors for biomarker analysis, including amino acids and hormones. The energy harvesters generate a maximum power output of 0.04 mW cm2, meaning the generated power is high enough to serve as an energy source for low-power sweat sensors. Despite attractive parameters, it appears that the stand-alone energy harvesters and sweat sensors need to be integrated into apparel, which may raise durability concerns for wearable applications. Self-powered biosensors have been a hot topic and attracted much attention. Those with interest in developing or adopting self-powered biosensors should pay attention to the progress of the research."

Lux Research - Materials - eBook

Siemens and Sintavia team up, building an ecosystem for manufacturing using metal 3D printing


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

"Metal 3D printing service provider Sintavia has forged a deal with Siemens Digital Industries Software, through the Siemens Xcelerator program, to create software for an "end to end" metal additive manufacturing system, ranging from part design to manufacturing automation. In the three-year deal, Sintavia will assist with development and in exchange gain early access to Siemens' software while serving as a "preferred partner" for Siemens, including joint sales and marketing. Complete ecosystems in polymer 3D printing have become necessary to translate the technology from prototyping into production; the same will be true in metal 3D printing, and this tie-up is a strong early step in that direction."  

U.S. Department of Homeland Security awards synthetic data startup $1 million to improve airport security


Miraj Mainali, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance


"The DHS had awarded $200,000 to Synthetik in 2019 for developing a proof of concept for AI-based object recognition software. Although the name of the startup is self-explanatory, it has now disclosed that it uses synthetic images to train algorithms for detecting explosives inside airports' screening systems. Synthetic images provide annotated training data without requiring the handling of dangerous materials. It is interesting to see that several U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. Army, IRS, and NIH, have also been investing in synthetic data. As the technology is maturing, those interested should assess if synthetic data can be used as a tool to produce training data or to preserve their consumer data privacy."

Luxury leather made from fish skins makes a splash

Gee, Cecilia

Cecilia Gee, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Brand owners consistently search for new textile developments to differentiate themselves against competitors and offer sustainable options for growing consumer demand. French startup Ictyos has created a luxury material that has strong potential to be adopted into niche products, despite the concept being very traditional. It has been careful to limit its environmental footprint by tanning otherwise discarded fish skins with vegetable extracts. This process decreases waste for both food and apparel industries without contributing to deforestation or harmful wastewater, creating an opportunity for alternative textile sources. Companies should similarly use a holistic approach toward sustainability in apparel to ensure benefits at each step."



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