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Lux Take on News: Weekly Round-Up September 20, 2019

Lux Research
September 20, 2019

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. This week's headlines saw the likes of Ginkgo Biowork's Series E funding, 3D Printed Meat (is it just a niche within a niche?) and Apple's new smartwatch. Check out our experts' thoughts below, on this week's tech and innovation news.

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

Ginkgo Bioworks raises $290 million Series E, bringing its funding total to $719 million and valuation to more than $4 billion

11177-thumb-squareGihan Hewage, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Much of this funding will contribute to Ginkgo's continued expansion, with its fifth cell engineering foundry nearing completing and more expected in the future. Although there are concerns regarding Ginkgo's ability to turn a profit and justify its unicorn status via synbio as a service, it anticipates doubling its revenue from 2018 to 2019 – estimated at $80 million. Moreover, it continues to add opportunities to gain equity in other synbio startups, with recently announced partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri to provide new companies access to Ginkgo's strain development platform. While Ginkgo is a leader in strain development services, its path toward profitability lies in its ability to spin out successful companies."

Witteveen+Bos starts operating a large-format gantry-based concrete 3D printer in Singapore

11113-thumb-squareTugce Uslu, PDEng, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"Witteveen+Bos, a Dutch engineering firm, was previously involved in a bicycle bridge 3D printing project in the Netherlands. Recently, the company announced that it started 3D printing operations in Singapore through the Housing and Development Board (HDB). While most of the increasingly more concrete 3D printing technology developers emerge from Europe and the U.S., geographies with government initiatives for the use prefabricated or 3D-printed building components are becoming sweet spots for these companies. Dubai and Singapore are among these geographies, and early-stage building projects in these locations will help accelerate adoption of concrete 3D printing globally."

Schlumberger, Microsoft, Chevron come together for digital transformation – a pertinent step for oil and gas service players moving forward

Harshit SharmaHarshit Sharma, Analyst
Lux Take: Very Important

"As part of the agreement, Schlumberger's DELFI will be hosted on the Azure cloud. Chevron and SLB will together build digital solutions for the former's operations with Microsoft's support. The partnership typifies the next step for O&G service players amid the industry's digital transformation. As called out in our DT of O&G report, data ownership lies with operators, and data management is in the ballpark of tech companies. The more datacentric the industry gets, the more crucial the role of tech companies. For service players, the differentiation is in industrial experience and know-how in extracting insights. This is the expertise SLB brings to the partnership and, moving forward, will be the pillar for success for the service industry."

Ping An leads $15 million investment in Riverain Technologies

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

"This move is significant for a couple of reasons. First, Ping An has historically invested in China-based startups. This investment in Riverain signals a shift from its domestically focused investment strategy to a more international one. Second, Ping An was previously more focused on digital platforms and infrastructure, such as the Private Doctor service and its unmanned One-Minute Clinics, respectively. This is a more direct move targeted at a clinical product, an automated AI-based software that scans for early signs of cancer from CT and X-ray images. Ping An is poised to be one of the biggest healthcare players in China, and companies looking to tap into the Chinese market should look for ways to engage with Ping An in a partnership."


Ovo Energy acquires SSE's residential energy supply business for £500 million

10028-thumb-squareJessica Hernandez, Senior Research Associate | @JessHernandezLR Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"The British retailer Ovo Energy was only founded in 2009 but has been growing fast, focusing on delivering 100% renewable electricity and trialing technologies that leverage the growing number of distributed energy resources (DERs) (e.g., vehicle-to-grid chargers) to benefit both consumers and grid operators. In early 2019, Ovo attracted investment from Mitsubishi, which acquired a 20% stake in the company, and once the regulator approves the deal by early 2020, Ovo Energy will become the second-largest supplier in the U.K, servicing around 5 million households in the country. Utility companies should closely monitor Ovo's stategy to support a sixfold growth of its customer base while keeping its consumer-centric approach."


Apple's new smartwatch unveils two directions: more independence from smartphones and more personal health

2908-thumb-square Jerrold Wang, Analyst | @JerroldWang Ico twitter
Lux Take: Very Important

"New in the Apple Watch Series 5, the watchOS 6 app store allows users to download apps directly to their smartwatch without using an iPhone as a relay, making smartwatch apps a more independent ecosystem from smartphones. The new apps for noise alerts and menstrual cycle tracking can immediately identify real-time health demand, which makes the smartwatch an impactful health device connecting users and healthcare product developers. We believe upcoming smartwatch developments by other brands may follow directions similar to Apple's. Companies providing consumer healthcare products should consider the smartwatch as a possible tool to convert, monitor, and retain users; if necessary, companies should launch or invest in smartwatch apps."

Evonik invests in Modern Meadow as it turns toward scaling production

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

"Having previously partnered with Modern Meadow for collagen production, Evonik is now investing through its venture arm – and, even more significantly, confirming plans to start commercial production in 2020 at an Evonik biofermentation plant in Slovakia. While the press release and Modern Meadow's marketing focus on leather replacement, expect Evonik to look to use the collagen produced more for medical and personal care applications. As more synbio approaches to materials begin to mature, established firms like Evonik will have more such opportunities to participate by supporting scale-up, both financially and with their production expertise."

Mitsubishi Chemical develops the thickest PAN-based carbon fiber so far

14312-thumb-square Drishti Masand, Research Associate
Lux Take: Very Important

"Thicker fibers are more suitable for automated composite processing methods and less so for hand layup, which has been the typical method of manufacturing composites. This new development shows that CF companies are starting to specifically design CF for automated composite manufacturing, which is an indication of market demand for this type of material and the maturity that automated methods are reaching. Companies should recognize the importance and growth of automation in the composite industry."

Adama and Taranis to develop full-service precision agriculture service

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

"Adama will leverage Taranis' aerial imagery scouting and accumulated data to improve its end-to-end solution building off the previous partnership. The move follows others and our own analysis indicating that the future of the agrichem industry is in "closing the loop," that is, end-to-end services that enable effective product use and simplify the consumer journey by implementing digital technologies with novel business models. Taranis' growth stems from robust data sets and scalable technology. This is evidenced by additional engagement with The Climate Corporation, again providing imagery-based insight. Adding drone scouting should be a simple addition, but partners' data must provide reliable actionable insight on targets."

Materials informatics presented as a promoting tool for accelerating sustainability

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

"Lux recently attended a luncheon hosted by the Chemical Marketing and Economics (CM&E) group of the American Chemical Society. The speaker from Deloitte emphasized the urgency of achieving sustainability and circula
r ecomy. While he highlighted the actions needed from regulators to build a better ecosystem, he also mentioned the promise of digital technologies, especially how artificial intelligence (materials informatics in this particular space) can facilitate the development of better functional materials (catalysts, for example) to achieve sustainability. Companies in the chemicals and materials sectors should always look at how these two megatrends can unfold new opportunities together."

With aviation emissions increasing faster than projected and consumer demand continuing to grow, air travel is ripe for electrification

11997-thumb-square Chloe Holzinger, Senior Research Associate | @ChloeHolzinger Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) finds that aviation emissions are increasing 70% faster than UN projections. Meanwhile, Airbus forecasts that urbanization and the growing global middle class will drive the number of commercial aircraft in operation to more than double in the next 20 years. Lux expects that increasing emissions regulations combined with this increased demand will drive a shift in air travel business models from today's hub-and-spoke system, which relies on fossil fuel-dependent,100-passenger commercial airliners, to a distributed system with shorter, more frequent flights on smaller planes accommodating only 20 to 50 passengers, as these can be electrified using existing technologies."

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revokes the state of California's right to regulate fuel economy standards

TIM GREJTAK Tim Grejtak, Analyst | @TheEnergyNerd Ico twitter
Lux Take: Average Importance

"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescinded California's waiver to the Clean Air Act that allows it to set its own more rigorous state-level regulations governing fuel economy and issue mandates for zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs); this is ahead of a proposed federal law that would relax previous fuel efficiency standards. The California Air Resources Board, state attorney general, and governor responded by starting a legal challenge against the U.S. government. Companies should expect a drawn-out legal proceeding over states' rights to regulate fuel economy; market stability afforded through cooperation among automakers depends on how aggressively the Trump administration Department of Justice pursues antitrust investigations."

Redefine Meat, developer of 3D printers for plant-based meats, raises $6 million seed round


Thomas Hayes, Analyst
Lux Take: Ignore

"CPT Capital led the round, with Germany poultry company PHW Group also participating. Redefine Meat (formerly Jet-Eat) will use the funding to complete the development of its 3D printer system, scheduled for release in 2020. This comes within a week of the funding announcement for NovaMeat. Redefine Meat and NovaMeat are two of the three developers specifically targeting 3D printers for plant-based meats; the other is SavorEat. Much like 3D printing of food in general, this approach is only suitable for low-volume/high-value applications. Given that 3D printing of plant-based meats is essentially a niche within a niche, we do not recommend that companies engage with this space."

Mercedes-Benz joins the growing list of automakers offering branded e-scooters

chad goldberg

Chad Goldberg, Research Associate 
Lux Take: Ignore

"The subtle announcement stands as little more than a teaser of Mercedes-Benz's entry into the micromobility solutions space, as the company did not release any details about the product specifications or price point. While the pictures accompanying the press release suggest a fairly rugged design, we do not anticipate much differentiation from competition, especially considering that BMW's E-Scooter is the result of a partnership with the same scooter manufacturer. The company is merely the latest among its peers to announce development of a scooter, and it remains unclear whether it will sell direct to consumer or bundle with regular vehicle purchases. Companies should ignore the news, as we view this as just another branded scooter."



- Blog: Green is the New Black: Will Coatings Be the Answer to Fresher Avocados?

-Case Study: How will Ginkgo Bioworks and Zymergen grow beyond synbio as a service? (Members Only) 

- Report: The Digital Transformation of Oil and Gas (Members Only)

- Report: The Future of Electric Aviation: Differntiating Between Myth and Reality (Members Only)

- Blog: The Best Time to Form a Materials Informatics Strategy is Now

Download Case Study    Schedule Demo

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