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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up September 11, 2020

Lux Research
September 11, 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 the first week of September below.

Amazon launches wearable health tracker called Halo, entering steep competition with Apple and Fitbit

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Truly Disruptive

"Coming in at just under $100, the device is priced on par with the most basic Fitbit offering and 30% to 50% lower than the most popular fitness trackers. The more valuable piece is the subscription-based app, which is needed for some of the features. At $3.99 per month, subscription revenue will likely incentivize continued growth and development. Unlike competitors, where new features are typically rolled out with new, high-investment products that capture less and less of the market share, app-based updates with new capabilities are lower-cost to roll out and will likely make for a better value proposition for the typical user. Companies should see the modest offering as a long-term play for capturing greater shares of the market over time."

McDonald's is the first in the food service industry to join TerraCycle's Loop platform to test a reusable cup for hot drinks on the go

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

"As part of the reusable cup trials, Loop's cleaning system is developed in partnership with Ecolab and ensures that each item is sanitized and meets high health code requirements. The reusable cup model needs to establish a proof of concept, more so than other material alternatives, as this model relies on consumer behavior change, which is unreliable. Moreover, post-pandemic, it is unclear if consumers will be willing to adopt shared cups for the sake of sustainability, or prefer single-use for hygiene reasons. Those looking for single-use cup alternatives should closely monitor the progress of this pilot test to see if McDonald's succeeds with a reusable cup model."

Personalized recommendation feature of Google Assistant is worth serious attention from all CPG brands

2908-thumb-squareJerrold Wang, Analyst | @jerroldwang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"A new feature of Google Assistant is making personalized recommendations of restaurants and recipes based on users' search history and smart device data. Some recommendations are further tailored to time; for example, dinner recipes are suggested in the evening. Though the feature is currently limited to consumer sectors, CPG companies should pay serious attention to it. First, Google's activity reconfirms the emerging trend of using consumer data to analyze their demands and drive personalized offerings. Second, Google has the potential to shape the sales of different CPG brands with highly customized product recommendations using data obtained through its different collection modes (like its search engine, wearables, and home devices)."

Checkerspot closes $36 million Series B, adding more support for its product sales business model

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


"Since the last time we spoke with the company, it has raised more than $50 million and launched three materials. Over the years, Checkerspot claims its platform has developed differentiation for new material development. To validate this claim, it has been planning to develop and sell its own materials, which is capital-intensive. The company has gone through two rounds of fundraising and has made decent progress in this strategy. Those interested could consider its platform mostly validated and should engage at this point for potential partnership opportunities."

Nestlé invests $30 million in Closed Loop Fund

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

"Nestlé is making the first investment from its CHF 2 billion sustainable packaging venture fund with the largest investment in Closed Loop by a single company. Through its investment in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, Nestlé will have access to recycled plastic feedstock to achieve greater volumes of food-grade recycled plastics for its packaging and enable it to lead widespread adoption of recycled plastics. This investment is one of the most promising commitments to recycled plastic adoption; companies should recognize the importance of the plastic waste problem and that companies need to develop new packaging solutions as well as support recycling infrastructure development outside their core business."

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Bayer agrees to 70% stake in personalized supplement company Care/of at $225 million valuation

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


"An official press release has yet to be released, but Bayer did confirm the deal with Forbes. This is the second acquisition of a personalized supplement company, the first being Nestlé's purchase of Persona in 2019. Persona and Care/of are very similar, with personalization aided solely by user-provided data (e.g., health goals). While we firmly challenge the credibility of this approach, it does seem to resonate with strategics given the ease of scalability, with Persona now in 60 countries since being acquired. Those interested should recognize that this is merely the first step of an evolution, with personalization becoming more sophisticated over time. Stay tuned for our Lux Genius 2020 event to learn more about the personalization topic."

Coca-Cola bottles will be made of 100% rPET in two more European countries

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

"The Deposit Return Schemes in Norway and the Netherlands, along with rapid innovation in recycling technologies, have enabled the production of high-quality rPET resin in both markets, thus accelerating the transition to local circular economies for PET in these countries. It is likely that rPET bottles will still have a price premium, but a local circular economy and increased scale of volumes could lower the premium to make it competitive with virgin plastics. This is a big step toward reducing the cost of recycled plastics and enabling wider adoption of sustainable solutions."

Ron Hovsepian takes over CEO role to transition Indigo toward profit generation

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

"The move signals what is likely a strategy shift for Indigo, a transition from well financially backed disruptive ideas to operationalized profit generation. Hovsepian moves from his role for the past 19 months as chief operating officer, where he worked to build customer-centric strategies into Indigo's future. He brings experience operationalizing digital solutions across supply chains, and Indigo's product diversity, often considered a weakness, requires strategies that either reshape or bring these attributes under one hood. With its strong recent funding, expect Indigo to target further market expansion and invest heavily into Carbon to stay ahead in this rapidly evolving area, but seamless offering integration will remain difficult."

Beyond Meat signs agreement to create two manufacturing facilities in China

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


"The facilities will be located in the Jiaxing Economic and Technological Development Zone (JXEDZ) outside of Shanghai. Trial runs are expected by the end of 2020, with full-scale production in early 2021. This is not Beyond Meat's first foray into the Chinese market, most recently partnering with Starbucks and Yum China, but will be its first local production footprint. Even as homegrown startups like Starfield Food & Science Technology gain momentum, it will be difficult for new entrants to challenge Beyond Meat's scale. With that said, there are certainly opportunities to better align products with local consumer preferences. Companies should look to capitalize on this white space in any way possible."

Myst AI raises funding to continue developing AI-powered electricity supply and demand forecasts

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Myst AI came out of stealth mode to announce it had raised a $6 million Series A round from Valo Ventures and Gradient Ventures, bringing its total amount of raised capital to $8 million. Myst AI develops a platform to predict electricity supply and demand using time series forecasting. It claims it already works with a dozen energy companies in North America and Europe, including Fortum and Enel. The newly raised cash will be used to support the expansion of Myst AI's offering, which the company claims will include tools for customers to "build their own energy forecasting use cases." Those interested should wait for Myst AI to release more details of its technology, which will help determine how it differentiates against competitors in the space."

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QuantumScape goes public via SPAC at $3.3 billion valuation as EV bubble continues to grow

Katrina WesterhofKatrina Westerhof, Director, Research
Lux Take: Average Importance


"Optage, owned by the Kansai Electric Power Company, offers internet, phone, and TV services as well as data center services. With this partnership, Optage will add a new service to its portfolio in 2021, providing IoT device makers and users with managed cybersecurity services. NanoLock's solution is a lightweight software root of trust embedded in the device's flash memory that validates attempts to modify device firmware and other critical code, preventing malware attacks and enabling secure over-the-air (OTA) updates, and it's already seen traction with utilities. The managed services model is becoming increasingly common for industrial cybersecurity and is a potential growth opportunity for infrastructure service companies."

Nikola's lopsided "partnership" with GM is just a play for credibility

10178-thumb-squareChristopher Robinson, Senior Analyst | @CRobinsonLux Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"In the announced "partnership," Nikola gives GM 11% equity in the company (worth about $2 billion at the time) and a board seat, and Nikola will pay GM for parts and manufacturing of the vehicle to the tune of roughly $2 billion. The announced deal confirms that Nikola's badger announcement was little more than a branding exercise; the steep price Nikola is paying GM to essentially serve as a contract manufacturer and component supplier is indicative of its lack of in-house technology development. GM is the real winner here; if Nikola fails – and it appears to be on that trajectory – the only downside for GM will be time spent engineering, homologating, and validating the vehicle and the potential branding fallout when Nikola does fail."

CropX acquires Regen to promote cost savings through effluent monitoring

Krishfield, LauraLaura Krishfield, Research Associate | @LKrishfield Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance


"CropX, developer of real-time soil monitoring and variable rate irrigation technology, announced its acquisition of Regen, a provider of effluent and irrigation decision support tools. From the deal, CropX gains 130,000 acres to manage and over a decade of irrigation farm data. Above all, CropX will integrate Regen's effluent monitoring APIs into its platform, increasing potential markets and appeal to an industry rife with regulatory demands in pursuit of more sustainable farming practices. Well-managed livestock effluents support crop growth and soil condition, provide input cost savings, and reduce impacts. Take note of CropX's strategy, as effluent water is a major opportunity as livestock production works to decrease impacts."

Uber Health launches prescription delivery service

13261-thumb-squareDanielle Bradnan, Research Associate @DBradnan Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"Uber Health, Uber's nonemergency healthcare transportation service, is moving into prescription delivery. Delays due to COVID-19 and concerns about the security of the U.S. Postal Service have pushed the evolution of medical deliveries into the ride-share industry. By moving into this space through a partnership with digital pharmacy NimbleRx, the company is able to compete with pharmacy giants CVS and Walgreens for a piece of the estimated $40 billion digital pharmacy market share. This is a significant example of a nontraditional player leveraging a partnership to enter the healthcare space, and companies should be looking for their own partnership opportunities to get their own slice of the healthcare pie."

Australian energy retailer plans to offer energy management tools in partnership with carbonTRACK

Hernandez, Jessica

Jessica Hernandez, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore

"Mojo Power, an electricity retailer in Australia, announced that it intends to deliver remote energy monitoring and control to its customers using carbonTRACK's gateway, which is able to control third-party smart home devices. The project will start with a "select group" of Mojo's customers; however, these participants should install or already have compatible smart home devices to manage their demand and achieve significant energy cost savings. The partners failed to disclose if customers will have to pay for the any hardware required, which could hinder participation, and the level of control these additional devices will enable, which directly impacts how much demand can be lowered and/or shifted."



 
 
 

FURTHER READING:

- Free Access to our COVID-19 Resources

- Blog: Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up September 4, 2020

- Blog: Genius 2020: Innovation Showcase Announced

- Blog: Genius 2020: Featured Speakers Announced

- Press Release: Lux Predicts Digital Transformation Will Affect $500 Billion of the Global Chemicals and Materials Industry

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