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The Top Innovation Questions Your Peers Are Asking About in 2018

Cosmin Laslau, Ph.D., Director, Research Products
October 9, 2018

What are the technologies and trends keeping global innovation executives up at night? Based on analysis of more than 250,000 searches run by innovation executives like yourself on our tech-enabled data and insights platform for clients in the past six months, here are the answers:

Let’s break this word cloud down into clusters of related topics and technologies to tease out what it means, and what you can do about it:


Lux Take: CO2 concerns are helping spur innovation interest in solar power and energy storage, especially batteries and hydrogen, but pick sub-technologies here carefully – some will fail to reach mass-adoption.

Driven by concerns over CO2 emissions and related opportunities like the rise of solar and wind power, more and more companies are looking to cost-effective energy system innovations. This includes a rising interest in improved batteries, with specific technologies like flow batteries attracting continued searches for their potential fit in stationary applications. However, despite decades of research and billions in investment, it remains difficult to make money in energy storage today. We think the problem does get easier when reframing batteries as a service instead.


Lux Take: New digital technologies have captured the attention of the enterprise – including blockchain, augmented reality, and wearables – but use cases with strong return on investment are still emerging.

Digital transformation – with topics that range from data and analytics to full-fledged artificial intelligence – is hardly a new topic, but is one that the world’s innovation ecosystem continues to try to develop best practices around. Many questions are about now-familiar topics, such as uncertainty around blockchain, while others are about subtler but potentially even more disruptive trends, such as the automotive industry betting big on augmented reality.

MATERIALS Top-Searches-in-Materials-2018

Lux Take: The chemicals and material industry is looking to sustainability and improved performance as a way to find new growth, which is helping developers of biomaterials, carbon fiber, and more.

Among the most popular searches in the materials space were not just ones focused solely on technologies, but also ones regarding their applications, including manufacturing, construction, and packaging. Innovation executives are looking to find the best partners and potential acquisitions: for example, understanding the biopolymer partnership landscape, where key developers like Synvina, Corbion, AVA Biochem, and Eastman are leading the way in polyethylene furanoate (PEF), an emerging material that could displace the packaging industry’s dependency on PET plastic bottles.

FOOD, HEALTH, & WELLNESS Top-Searches-in-FHW-2018-1

Lux Take: The race is on for technologies that can lower initial costs and prove strong return on investment for the future of food, health, and wellness, with opportunities including precision agriculture, the microbiome, and alternative proteins.

Plant and soil health complexity are driving a lot of interest, including a spike in the integration of soil testing and soil monitoring solutions. The digitization of agriculture through new tools like optical sensors presents strong opportunities, especially for developers that can lower upfront costs and prove return on investment versus conventional methods. Alternative proteins are also on the radar for innovation executives, with approaches ranging from plant proteins to insect proteins to cellular agriculture picking up more and more funding.

Are you and your innovation colleagues also focused on these topics, or do you take a different view? Let us know via any of our social media pages or email us at:

Contact us to learn more about how we help global companies focused on physical industries tackle these and other critical technology innovation decisions.

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