Environment and energy, or "cleantech," applications have become a target for more and more companies developing intermediate products, like batteries and solar cells, based on nanotechnology -- products called "nanointermediates."
But with many start-up companies fighting for a slice of the same pie, which will prevail? In its latest report, Lux Research summarizes the opportunities of the space, and applies its proprietary assessment tool, the Lux Innovation Grid, to compare the field of competitors and identify the most likely winners.
Titled "The Governing Green Giants: Makers of Cleantech Nanointermediates on the Lux Innovation Grid," the report looks at companies competing in three specific nanointermediate spaces: batteries for electric vehicles, filters for water and gas purification, and organic and Grätzel photovoltaics (PVs). It scores each company on three attributes -- technical value, business execution, and maturity. Based on its score, each company is then assigned a relative position on the Lux Innovation Grid's four quadrants: Dominant, High-Potential, Undistinguished, and Long-shot.
"Nanointermediate suppliers are flocking to opportunities promised by the growing environment and energy sectors," said Jurron Bradley, a Senior Analyst for Lux Research and the report's lead author. "But the end applications -- as well as the technological solutions offered -- are still in their early days, and there's been very little real-world assessment of companies in the field to help guide decision-makers responsible for mergers and acquisitions, licensing, development agreements, investments, and regulations."
Lux Research's report applies the Lux Innovation Grid to provide that real-world assessment. It draws from over 1,000 primary interviews conducted with executives throughout the nanomaterials value chain. Among its key observations:
- Little technological differentiation is distinguishing firms targeting energy storage. Nanointermediate firms pursuing applications in batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors are competing in a sector supercharged for growth. However, most firms assessed cluster around the center of the Lux Innovation Grid due to a lack of technological differentiation. The standouts: A123Systems, whose solid business execution score lands it deep in the Grid's Dominant quadrant, and Electrovaya, which scores highest in technical value for its nanostructured polymer electrolyte technology and large patent portfolio.
- NanoScale is the firm to beat in the nano-enabled filtration segment. NanoScale's well-commercialized filter technology provides it with strong scores for both technical value and business execution, anchoring the company firmly in the Grid's Dominant quadrant. NanoStatics lags slightly in business performance, but outscores NanoScale in technical value for its electrospinning process, which produces woven and nonwoven filters based on polymer, organic and hybrid nanofibers.
- No clear leaders in nano-enabled solar cells. That may be an understatement as all competitors assessed occupy the Grid's Long-shot quadrant -- due, in part, to the nascence of the organic and Grätzel PV solar cell market itself. Solarmer Energy scores comparatively high in technical value, partly because it holds the record for highest organic PV cell efficiency (6.44%). Konarka scores relatively well on business execution thanks to its $185 million war chest and partnership list.
"The Governing Green Giants: Makers of Cleantech Nanointermediates on the Lux Innovation Grid," is part of the Lux Nanomaterials Intelligence service. Clients subscribing to this service receive ongoing research on market and technology trends, continuous technology scouting reports and proprietary data points in the weekly Lux Research Nanomaterials Journal, and on-demand inquiry with Lux Research analysts.