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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 22, 2021

Lux Research
October 22, 2021

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 past week below. 

AeroFarms calls off merger with Spring Valley Acquisition Corp.

Laura Krishfield, Research Associate, Lux Research

Laura Krishfield, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"AeroFarms and Spring Valley, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, have announced a mutual agreement to terminate a planned merger announced in March 2021. The transaction would have valued the combined company at $1.2 billion and recognized AeroFarms as the second controlled environment agriculture (CEA) company to go public. While the press release does not state the reason behind the merger's termination, secondary sources speculate that shareholders lacked confidence in the deal – a bit surprising, given AeroFarms' recent momentum in R&D collaboration. Companies, the capital intensity of CEA is a concern for the growth of this space, as CEA still has a long way to go before becoming a main source of food production.

French authorities ban plastic packaging for most fruits and vegetables starting in 2022

Marcian Lee, Ph.D., Research Analyst, Lux Research

Marcian Lee, Ph.D., Research Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"A blanket ban on plastic packaging with a short deadline will leave French grocers and produce suppliers with limited options to comply with the law. The ban will drive them to either switch to pulp and paper packaging as a short-term solution or sell produce in a loose format, which complicates the consumer shopping experience. There is opportunity for companies developing reusable packaging ecosystems to capitalize on the urgent need for more than 1 billion units of plastic-free packaging per year; this may be the impetus for deeper changes in packaging practices and consumer behavior.

USDA awards $10 million grant to Tufts University to promote cell-based meat research

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst, Lux Research

Harini Venkataraman, Ph.D., Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"Through this new grant from the USDA, Tufts University in the U.S. will establish the country's first National Institute for Cellular Agriculture, led by Dr. David Kaplan, in collaboration with six other institutions. This grant will be spread over five years and will foster academic collaborations to further cell-based meat research on topics including media formulations, nutritional aspects, LCA analysis, and consumer acceptance. With several key challenges in the cell-based meat value chain yet to be solved, this development is a step in the right direction to encourage the growth of the cell-based meat space. Expect similar moves from other countries to promote foundational scientific research on emerging alternative protein categories."

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Siemens and Technip join forces to demonstrate rotating olefins cracker

Jinze Dai, Analyst, Lux Research

Jinze Dai, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"Siemens Energy and Technip Energies are looking to commercialize a rotating olefins cracker (ROC), an emerging technology to electrify olefin production processes. The companies have tested ROC in a laboratory setting and signed an MoU with the Cracker of the Future Consortium to demonstrate the ROC technology at one of the consortium members' plants in Europe. The combination of Siemens' turbomachinery and Technip's expertise in olefin crackers will help de-risk the scale-up of ROC, which is a major challenge for startups like Coolbrook. Compared to electrically heated crackers like what Dow and Shell are developing, ROC may deliver higher olefin yields and lower power consumption but with higher capital costs and lower operability."

Sunfire raises $125 million and announces large-scale electrolyzer manufacturing plant

Runeel Daliah, Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Runeel Daliah, Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

 

"Sunfire closed its Series D funding round with new investors including Lightrock and Planet First Partners. Additionally, the company plans to build its first 500 MW manufacturing facility for alkaline electrolyzers, set to come online by 2023 – the facility can eventually be expanded to the GW scale. Sunfire built a strong portfolio of industry partners for testing its solid oxide electrolysis technology, but the recent announcements indicate that the company is now poised for broader commercialization with the more near-term alkaline technology."

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OptoScale raises $4.1 million to empower aquaculture production with digital monitoring technology

Laura Krishfield, Research Associate, Lux Research

Laura Krishfield, Research Associate
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"OptoScale develops a fish monitoring system that uses underwater cameras and edge computing to measure biomass, detect disease, and count lice in real time. The funding, led by Blue Ocean and joined by Skagerak Maturo, will be used by OptoScale to double its workforce and expand outside of Norway, Scotland, and Canada to new markets, including Australia, Chile, and Iceland. OptoScale claims its solution's measurements are accurate within 3%, enabling producers to assess up to 200,000 fish per day compared to the typical 50 to 100 per day. Key players, the application of digital tools within aquaculture farms has significant potential to support management decisions that optimize fish health and growth, enabling economically feasible operations."

Greeneye plans its U.S. rollout of its precision spraying technology in early 2022

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Lux Research

Tim Appachanda, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Weeds annually cost U.S. farmers more than $33 billion in lost production. Irrespective of weed infestation levels, farmers often broadcast spray entire fields, driving herbicide resistance and potentially soil and water pollution. Greeneye's machine learning-enabled precision sprayers include mounted cameras that capture images at 40 frames per second and identify weeds with 96% accuracy. Edge computing calculates the amount of herbicide required in real time and treats weeds. The company claims its spraying technology cuts herbicide use by 78% and herbicide costs by more than 50%. Key players should consider engaging companies developing precision application tools to align products but take into account system costs and application rates."

Paper and battery industry waste for alternative fertilizer production

Deepesh Bista, Agriculture Analyst

Deepesh Bista, Agriculture Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

 

"Cinis Fertilizer, a Swedish cleantech startup, and Van Iperen International, a Dutch specialty fertilizer company, will produce and market sustainable potassium fertilizer from salts recovered from the paper and battery industry. Cinis will build two factories, and its technology will upcycle sodium sulfate salts from these industries into green mineral fertilizer powered by clean energy. Van Iperen, which recently launched a potassium nitrate solution derived from organic manure, will market this product, which will have a near-zero carbon footprint. Companies, as the circular economy gains momentum, expect unconventional and adjacent opportunities to emerge that will require partners and novel ecosystem linkages."

Did you miss last week's news round-up? Check out the blog here. Make sure you never miss a headline by subscribing to our newsletter.

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