Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up October 4, 2019

Lux Research

Every day Lux Analysts curate recent news, giving their opinion and analysis on selected developments. Our analysts evaluate news based on potential importance ranking developments from Truly Disruptive to Ignore. Check out our experts' thoughts on this week's top emerging tech and innovation headlines below.

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

BiomeSense raises $2 million to develop microbiome-sensing toilets

10085-thumb-squareThomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important


"Every time we go to the bathroom, we flush data down the drain. BiomeSense is looking to capitalize on this data, working toward a legitimately "smart" toilet. This concept is attractive for two reasons: 1) it can enable finer temporal analysis of the gut microbiome, and 2) it will not require behavior changes by consumers. This concept will require significant development, though, with improvements needed in sensor miniaturization, computing capacity, and understanding of the relationship between the gut microbiome and health. This company came from the University of California San Diego, a leading university in the space. It's another step on the path to ubiquitous, point-of-use sensing that is coming for consumer health."

 

DuPont bolsters UF membrane offerings with acquisitions from BASF and Evoqua Water Technologies

9107-thumb-square Abhirabh Basu, Senior Research Associate 
Lux Take: Very Important


"DuPont plans to acquire Evoqua's MEMCOR hollow-fiber product line for ultrafiltration (UF) and membrane bioreactors (MBRs). The news comes on the heels of DuPont's acquisition of BASF's UF business (originally from Inge). Having formed a JV with Solenis for its paper and water chemicals business, BASF's had little stake in the water business, leaving a relatively high-tech membrane solution misaligned with the company's growth strategy. DuPont, however, is diversifying its membrane and separations portfolio. With the addition of Evoqua's hollow-fiber MBRs, along with legacy Dow investments in OxyMem and Blue Foot Membranes, DuPont will look to capitalize on growing opportunities across industrial and municipal wastewater treatment."

U.S. seniors targeted in fraudulent genetic test recruitment scheme, highlighting risks in consumer digital health

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


"While the fraudulent testing scheme is troubling in its own right, it underscores a greater problem in digital health that clients need to be cognizant of as they navigate new technologies. Much of the public is unaware of the how these digital products work, and without touchstones to personally vet products, they are liable to be abused by fraud. Companies must support any digital initiative they undertake with educational resources as a bulwark against bad actors and as an insurance policy to safeguard business interests."

 

Singaporean startup Biofourmis gets its second FDA approval in the space of six months

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


"Biofourmis' AI-powered Biovitals Analytics Engine has been approved as a medical device for constant monitoring of individual patients' physiology-based health data. This is the second FDA approval it has received this year; the first was for was for its Biovitals RhythmAnalytics platform, a cloud-based software that automatically interprets types of cardiac arrhythmia. Biofourmis is barely five years old but has made a lot of progress, from both a technological and business perspective. It has shifted its headquarters to Boston and hired experienced pharma executives to accelerate its global expansion. Biofourmis is a digital therapeutic company that clients should be looking to engage in a collaboration sooner rather than later."

Alibaba and Bayer partner for blockchain, but the use case remains unclear

12744-thumb-square Joshua Haslun, Ph.D., Analyst | @JHaslun Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importantance


"Bayer and Alibaba add their names to the growing list of blockchain solutions for agrifood. Companies already active include WalmartIBMOpenSC, NestléR3Maersk, and BASF. Early statements from the partnership outline a goal of improving the transparency and responsiveness of the supply chain – a common blanket statement. Instead, the question that must be answered is: Does blockchain provide perceived or quantitative value greater than that of current technologies? For large or numerous transactions slowed by legal processes (e.g., international transfer of ownership), value exists, but for consumer-focused areas, the value remains unclear. Companies must weigh perceived vs. quantitative value when considering blockchain applications."

Verizon acquires Jaunt to step ahead in VR and 3D content

13890-thumb-squareVladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Promising in the past, Jaunt, a VR startup funded with more than $100 million, has been fairly inactive recently. Its innovative technology for capturing and formatting volumetric videos and 3D content could impact large markets. Developing such markets is a task better suited for much larger companies like Facebook, which announced its home-built VR platform last week. Verizon chose the M&A route and acquired Jaunt's technology. While only a handful of companies are capable of competing in VR core technologies, the impact of VR adoption is imminent (such M&A indicates maturity and consolidation of VR developments), and the best approach starts with asking how your operations and customer engagement can be improved by these opportunities."

Red meat causes cancer... or doesn't? Microbiomes are likely the root of the confusion

6463-thumb-square Sara Olson, Ph.D., Director, Research | @SaraOlsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"There is a furor in the nutrition science world about whether red meat consumption is problematic for health. To break down the central issue: The impact(s) of red meat consumption vary so much from person to person that it is impossible to make a meaningful blanket statement about cancer or cardiovascular risk directly from red meat in a diet. Different microbiomes, in addition to different diets overall (besides just red meat consumption), are likely responsible for the degree of variation here, which is why each person's health effects from red meat will be unique. This news highlights that the medical community desperately needs a better way of understanding the effects of the microbiome and how those vary from one person to another."

U.K. launches collection scheme for agricultural plastics

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


"Waste collection can be a relatively neglected portion of circular economy, and this project will address plastics for which there's not an otherwise ready collection stream – non-packaging agricultural plastics, such as films, nets, and twine, generally polyolefins – though volumes are small at under 4% of U.K. plastics use. With plastic waste import bans in China and elsewhere, it's not clear this waste will have anywhere to go for effective recycling, and biodegradable materials will be a growing alternative. Still, companies developing recycling technologies should look to this program (and similar ones like Cornell's RAPP) as a source of feedstock that may require less processing than general consumer collection streams."

Spiber and Goldwin announce partnership with Loaded Boards for bamboo/protein composites for skateboards and longboards

Hewage, Gihan

Gihan Hewage, Analyst
Lux Take: Low Importance


"These applications won't lead to significant growth for Spiber or spider silk as a material. However, there are a few reasons to follow this partnership. First, composites made from bamboo and Spiber's proteins will have applications beyond skateboards and longboards. More importantly, if this partnership and Spiber's current scale-up result in anything beyond the usual promotional products made from spider silk (most recently Spiber's Moon Parka), it will mean that synbio-derived spider silk's cost, volume, and material properties are at appropriate levels for adoption. However, if this is yet another small-volume product following Spiber's larger facility, it suggests that spider silk may never be commercially relevant beyond cosmetics."

Climeworks launches CO₂-negative jewelry in baffling move

11349-thumb-square Runeel Daliah, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore


"Climeworks, together with Carbon Upcycling Technologies, will be launching carbon-negative bracelets containing solid carbon made from atmospheric CO2. The bracelets will be available at prices ranging from $65 to $500 per unit. There is growing momentum in sustainable fashion, but we can't help but think this is an ill-timed extravagance from Climeworks when its competitors are busy signing multimillion-dollar partnerships with major oil and gas players. Companies should browse our "CO2 Capture and Conversion" report for more scalable and sensible solutions for CO2 utilization."

 

 

 

FURTHER READING:

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up September 27, 2019

- Report: CO₂ Capture and Conversion: Innovative technology developers in the emerging CO₂ capture and conversion space (Members Only) 

- Analyst Insight: Making the case for a recycled content requirement (Members Only)

- Blog: Can AI Make Innovation Any Easier?


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