Category Innovation

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

BATTERIES | CHEMISTRY | NANOPARTICLES

Superconductor Boosts Lithium-Sulfur Battery Performance

Next-generation batteries based on lithium-sulfur chemistry could store more energy in lighter packages than today’s best lithium-ion batteries. But the intricacies of Li-S chemistry also limit its durability. Now researchers have found they can rein in the chemistry of Li-S cathodes by adding nanoparticles of the superconductor magnesium diboride. [C&EN]

ELECTRICITY | EMISSIONS

Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the U.S. Power Sector Have Declined 28% Since 2005

Carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector have been on a steady decline and are now at the lowest level since 1987. Driven by low demand, state policies, and federal tax incentives encouraging the use of noncarbon electric generation like solar and wind, this decline in emissions will likely be a continuing trend. [EIA]

INNOVATION | STARTUPS

Lean StartUp’s Newest Tool: Innovation Accounting

A recent study of 1200 executives found that over half of them struggle with connecting their business and innovation strategies. Almost 75% believe they are not out-innovating their competition. Eric Ries, author of The Startup Way, thinks it’s because companies are measuring their progress using wild guesses; they should start using science instead. [INC]

PHYSICS

Redefining the Kilogram

The official object that defines the mass of a kilogram is a tiny, 139-year-old cylinder of platinum and iridium that resides in a triple-locked vault near Paris. Because it is so important, scientists almost never take it out; instead they use copies called working standards. But the last time they did inspect the real kilogram, they found it slightly heavier than all the working standards, which have been leaving behind a few atoms of metal every time they are put on scales. The result: representatives from 57 countries are meeting this month to vote on a proposal to make the International System of Units fully dependent on constants of nature. The ampere, kelvin, mole, and kilogram are all expected to get new definitions. [SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN]

SCIENCE | VIDEOS| IMAGES

The 8 Best Science Images, Videos, and Visualizations of the Year

From basic principles that explain our universe, to the newest technology, science can be weird, fun, and down right exciting. But science can also be strikingly beautiful. These 8 visuals are the best this year that not only explain scientific concepts clearly, but also show just how stunning science can be. [POP SCI]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

POLYMERS | NANOPARTICLES | MATERIALS SCIENCE

Fluorinated Coating is Utterly Repellent

Scientists have created a super-omniphobic material containing polymer nanoparticles that form a highly texture surface trapping tiny air pockets that then repel liquids. Due to its unique chemistry and texture, this new repellent coating can rebuff oils and organic solvents, stay dry in water, heal itself after damage, withstand high temperatures and harsh acids, and much more. [C&EN]

BIOLOGY

The Human Cell Atlas is Biologists’ Latest Grand Project

The cell is the basic unit of life and has captivated scientists for hundreds of years. Until just the last few years, the technology to explore the inner workings of individual cells did not exist. Now that it does, an ambitious project, the Human Cell Atlas is underway with plans to catalog the 37 trillion cells that make up the human body. If successful, this map of cells could one day be instrumental in helping us better understand and treat diseases. [WIRED]

FIBER OPTICS | INTERNET

‘Twisted’ Fiber Optic Light Breakthrough Could Make Internet 100 times Faster

Fiber optic cables use pulses of light to transmit information, but engineers have created a new dimension for light to carry this info by twisting the light itself into a spiral. And with the creation of a tiny new detector to read the spiraled light, a faster and more efficient Internet could soon be headed our way. [THE GUARDIAN]

WWII | IONOSPHERE

Shockwaves from WWII Bombing Raids Rippled the Edges of Space

Scientists have long been aware that natural phenomena such as cloud to ground lightning strikes and solar flares have an observable and measurable effect on Earth’s atmosphere. But a new study published in Annales Geophysicae documents the similar effects that bombs dropped during WWII had on our ionosphere. Scientists hope the work will help more accurately predict communication-disrupting ionospheric disturbances in the future. [NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC]

3D PRINTING | TECHNOLOGY | INNOVATION

French Family Just Became the First to Permanently Live in a 3D Printed Home

This summer, a family of five moved into a 1,022 square foot home that was printed in 54 hours. The home, located in Nantes, France, features wheelchair access, smartphone controlled appliances, and walls made up of insulating polyurethane with cement filling between the layers. Other advances in architectural 3D printing from around the world are also covered. [BUSINESS INSIDER]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

BIOENGINEERING | TEXTILES

Next Generation Cotton You Won’t Have to Iron

A team at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has started working on a cotton with many of the properties of synthetics, such as being stretchy, non-creasing and even waterproof, while retaining its natural fiber feel. “We’re looking into the structure of cotton cell walls and harnessing the latest tools in synthetic biology to develop the next generation cotton fiber,” CSIRO scientist Dr. Madeline Mitchell said. The goal: use the next generation cotton to take substantial market share from the current synthetics industry. [CSIRO]

INNOVATION

The Future Belongs to Whoever Creates It

An interesting blog post from Jeffrey Phillips, author of Relentless Innovation: “The fact is that the future doesn’t belong to anyone. Given the rapid pace of change and the emergence of new technologies and solutions, you can’t say with much certainty who will win . . . but if we try just a bit we can understand what’s likely to happen and in some instances perhaps even influence it.” [INNOVATE ON PURPOSE]

ENERGY | ENVIRONMENT

The Big Bet in Fracking: Water

Some investors see fortunes to be made in the U.S.’s hottest oil field—by speculating in water, not crude. Fledgling companies, many backed by private equity, are rushing to help shale drillers deal with one of their trickiest problems: what to do with the vast volumes of wastewater that are a byproduct of fracking wells. The wastewater is commonly removed by truck, 125 barrels at a time, and start-ups are focused on building pipelines to handle the volume. It’s tempting to think of this as an infrastructure play, but global companies should be thinking about the opportunity in other ways because there is a lot of money to be made: rising water management costs can add as much as $6 to the cost of producing a single barrel of crude. [WSJ]

DRONES

Warehouse Drones are Ready for the Spotlight

Delivery drones may have been getting the most press, but warehouse drones are are already making a difference in many industries. This is just the start of many in-plant uses of drones and other autonomous robot, and it’s a great proving ground: Warehouses are much more physically structured than manufacturing plants and so make it easier to develop capabilities. [SUPPLYCHAINDIVE]

PHYSICS | BIOLOGY | (OLD) INFOGRAPHIC

Revisiting a 1958 Map of Space Mysteries

A year after Sputnik launched in 1957, speculation was sizzling. Surely, humans would be up there before too long, which in turn would finally put us in a position to answer our many, many questions about the universe. In 1958, the American Oil Company (AMOCO) released a pictorial map outlining some of the most bedeviling space-related puzzles of the age and predicting what might happen when space explorers were able to get a closer look. Some of these questions were tied up pretty quickly, but the rest aren’t so neatly resolved. Sixty years later, Atlas Obscura checked in with space experts to weigh in on which have been cracked, and what continues to confound. Use the zoom tool to take a closer look. [ATLAS OBSCURA]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

MANAGEMENT | DECISION MAKING | INNOVATION

Are MBAs Killing Our Companies and Our Economy?

If you wonder why most businesses still think of shareholders as their main priority or treat skilled labor as a cost rather than an asset—or why 80 percent of CEOs surveyed in one study said they’d pass up making an investment that would fuel a decade’s worth of innovation if it meant they’d miss a quarter of earnings results— it’s because that’s exactly what they are being educated to do. MBA education has fostered the sort of short-term, balance-sheet-oriented thinking that is threatening the economic competitiveness of the country as a whole. Is it time for a change? [EVONOMICS]

MATERIALS

Alan Turing’s Only Chemistry Paper Yields Desalination Technique

In 1952, computer science pioneer Alan Turing published his only chemistry paper which suggests a way to explain the formation of patterns such as spots and stripes in nature. And it turned out to suggest a way for scientists to do this on purpose. Chinese researchers created one of these “Turing structures” with patterns at the molecular level, resulting in a membrane that effectively filters the salt out of salt water. [DISCOVER]

MANAGEMENT | WORK-LIFE BALANCE

This 4-Day Work Week Experiment Went So Well, the Company Is Keeping It

A first-of-its-kind four-day work week experiment in New Zealand has come to an end after two months, but the trial went so well the company actually wants to make the changes permanent. While lots of research has shown the numerous benefits a reduced work week can provide to employees, what’s remarkable about this trial is that employees worked four days a week but got paid for five. [SCIENCE ALERT]

ASTRONOMY | GEOLOGY | ASTROBIOLOGY

Underground Lake Found on Mars? Get the Facts

Liquid water is refreshingly abundant on moons in the outer solar system, but it has proven surprisingly tough to find in reliable quantities on Mars—until now. Radar scans of the red planet suggest that a stable reservoir of salty, liquid water measuring some 12 miles across lies nearly a mile beneath the planet’s south pole. What’s more, the underground lake is not likely to be alone. [NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC]

MATERIAL SCIENCE | SENSORS

The Smart Home Ecosystem: Market and Competitors

Driven by investment and consumer enthusiasm, the global smart home market is expected to reach $123 billion by 2022, more than double the size of its $56 billion value in 2018. This comprehensive infographic from ABI Research is designed to provide vision on where vendors need to position themselves to maximize return on investment, create new revenue streams, shape their go-to-market strategies and hone in on the true competitors for mergers and acquisitions as well as product development. It’s pretty dense: download the PDF to get the best view. [ELECTRONICS 360 | ABI]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

INNOVATION | LEADERSHIP

What Leaders Need to Do to Boost Innovation

A short, to-the-point post by Alex Osterwalder sharing four elements he believes are crucial for leaders who want to make innovation a reality at their companies. Alex is a clear thinker with deep experience and doesn’t mince words: “Leaders who don’t invest at least 20% of their time into innovation, don’t care about innovation.” [LINKEDIN]

ELECTRONIC MATERIALS | HEALTHCARE | VIDEO

Exploring the Claims of an Electronic Bandage

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a growing and deadly problem. A company called Vomaris Innovations has developed an electric bandage they claim could beat these pathogens. Although the bandage is about a decade old, recent research has shown the technology can destroy hardy, antibiotic-resistant biofilms in pigs. Soon, the makers hope to prove the bandage’s efficacy in human clinical trials, and they also have their eyes on other commercial applications, including sportswear that fights odor-causing bacteria. [C&EN | INTERESTING ENGINEERING]

MATERIALS | TUNABLE SURFACES

Multifunctional Surface Flips from Sticky to Slippery On Demand

Surfaces are usually designed to have a certain topography, and you’ll usually have to choose if they’re sticky or slippery depending on what you need. But now, Harvard scientists have led an international team to develop a new surface that can reconfigure its shape, stickiness or slipperiness on demand, through the application of a magnetic field. [NEW ATLAS]

FUTURE OF WORK | TIPPING POINTS

The Megatrend Everyone Ought to Be Talking About

McKinsey says the combination of automation and IA will displace 38.6 million US workers by 2030, and Bain pegs the number only slightly lower at 32.5 million. The numbers in many other parts of the world are even more dire. Certainly some of these workers will migrate to other employment, but this shift is going to have a greater employment impact on the world than the Industrial Revolution. We’re used to thinking of automation as something that will make our businesses more efficient, and that’s certainly true. But we also need to be thinking about what this massive shift will mean for our customers and the world. This piece from The Conversation does a good job laying out some of the questions we should be asking and reviews what history might be able to teach us. And this recent piece in The New Yorker describes how the job-loss wave is reviving a very old idea: universal basic income. [MCKINSEY | BAIN | THE CONVERSATION | THE NEW YORKER]

STRATEGY | INSIDE OUTSIDERS

Why the Marine Corps Ditched the Best Offense in History

The Marine rifle squad may be the most brilliant tactical formation devised by any team in the last half-century. But evolving technologies and evolving threats can suggest a need to change even the most successful strategy, whether in the military or in industry. The question is: do you have a leader confident enough to make the call? [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

NEUROSCIENCE | CREATIVITY

Drunk People Are Better at Creative Problem Solving

An interview with Professor Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University. He and colleagues served vodka-cranberry cocktails to 20 male subjects until their blood alcohol levels neared legal intoxication and then gave each a series of word association problems to solve. Not only did those who imbibed give more correct answers than a sober control group performing the same task, but they also arrived at solutions more quickly. The conclusion: drunk people are better at creative problem solving. [HBR]

CLIMATE SCIENCE

Maybe We Can Afford to Suck CO2 Out of the Sky After All

While avoiding the worst dangers of climate change will likely require sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky, prominent scientists have long dismissed such technologies as far too expensive. But a detailed new analysis published in early June in the journal Joule finds that direct air capture may be practical after all. The study concludes it would cost between $94 and $232 per ton of captured carbon dioxide if existing technologies were implemented on a commercial scale. [MIT Technology Review]

STRATEGY | INNOVATION

How “The Lean Startup” Turned Eric Ries Into an Unlikely Corporate Guru

Although The Lean Startup focused on . . . well . . . startups, Ries now believes innovation lurks in the bellies of even the stodgiest corporations. Ries’s second book, The Startup Way, published in October, focuses squarely on big companies, and this interesting profile reveals a lot of his thinking. Ries thinks that the trick for big companies is to stop thinking about their size: they need to form small groups devoted to the practice of innovation, and empower and protect them on a continual basis. [FORTUNE]

INNOVATION | ECONOMICS

“A Powerful Signal of Recessions” Has Wall Street’s Attention

Every recession of the past 60 years has been preceded by an inverted bond market yield curve (with only one false positive), and we’re moving rapidly toward another inversion right now. That means it’s a good time to think about how your company will react to the next downturn, particularly in an area most of us really care about: innovation. With that in mind, we’re revisiting this 2008 Forbes’ piece by Scott Anthony and Leslie Feinzaig, Innovating During a Recession. As they point out, during a downturn “[f]ocusing too much on the core business can lead companies smack dab into the roots of the innovator’s dilemma, where they get diminishing returns from investments while missing great growth opportunities emerging in the fringes of their markets or in completely new ones.. [NEW YORK TIMES | FORBES]

BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION

Fast-Fine Dining Is the New Restaurant Frontier

Driven by a shrinking pool of workers, high labor costs, and high rent, the Bay Area is trying to optimize something new by replacing employee labor with customer labor: the fine dining industry. So what? This trend—finding creative ways to eliminate labor cost through business model innovation—is something you ought to be thinking about in your own business because it’s going to spread, first to high-cost cities and soon to lower cost areas. As this shift happens, opportunities are going to be created for companies in the supply chain to optimize the experience of fast-fine dining. And outside the restaurant supply chain the same thing is going to be happening: if you make things that wind up in the service sector, the world is going to be changing fast. Start planning now to get ahead of the emerging opportunities. [BON APPETITE | NEW YORK TIMES]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.


We’re excited to announce the launch of GrowthPilot Insights, a series of white papers that grew out of our work on thousands of new product development projects. The papers distill what we’ve learned into simple principles and practical steps that any company can follow. The intro and the first paper at the link; others will follow in the coming months.

GrowthPilot Insights


POLYMERS | MANUFACTURING

New Polymer Manufacturing Process Saves 10 Orders of Magnitude of Energy

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new polymer-curing process that uses 10 orders of magnitude less energy and can cut two orders of magnitudes of time over the current manufacturing process. “This development marks what could be the first major advancement to the high-performance polymer and composite manufacturing industry in almost half a century,” said aerospace engineering professor and lead author Scott White. The findings, reported in Nature, describe a frontal polymerization method which uses the internal energy of the polymerization process—rather than external energy—to propagate the reaction and cure the material. [UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS]

INNOVATION | PODCAST

How to Think 10x Bigger (In Just 10 Minutes)

A short, tight talk by Dr. Astro Teller, CEO of X, Alphabet’s arm tasked with bringing its most audacious, difficult ideas to life. If you need to move truly new, technically demanding ideas off the drawing board and into the world, his description of how to run the teams attacking these challenges is as good as you will find anywhere. And it only takes about 10 minutes. You can stream the talk directly from the link, and—if you want to skip the intro—start at the 3:00 minute mark. [THE TIM FERRIS SHOW]

OCEAN SCIENCES | SENSORS | DRONES

This Man Is Building an Armada of Saildrones to Conquer the Ocean

Despite the ocean’s size and value, resources to study it are scant, and most of our data about global seas come from satellite readings and a smattering of sensor-equipped buoys. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is among the field’s best-funded research organizations and has all of 16 science ships, complemented by another 16 from university fleets. Australia has only one serious research vessel. Richard Jenkins is trying to change all this with his venture-backed startup, Saildrone Inc. [BLOOMBERG]

NUCLEAR POWER | ENERGY

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Move a Step Closer to Deployment

As a follow-up to the story on Thorium reactors we included two weeks ago, the first small modular reactor (SMR)—designed by UK-based NuScale Power—passed its Phase 1 review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late April. The SMR is designed to replace the one or more giant reactors in current nuclear power plants with smaller modular ones that can be assembled at a central facility and then shipped to the site for installation. [NEW ATLAS]

MATERIAL SCIENCE | BIOLOGY

Is Fungus the Material of the Future?

Fungus and slippers are two words that most people don’t want to read in the same sentence. However, scientists in the Netherlands are one step closer to changing people’s perceptions by creating everyday objects like chairs, lampshades and slippers using fungi—specifically oyster mushrooms. If you want to learn more and have 11 minutes to spare, there is an interesting video on the technology here. [SMITHSONIAN | MOTHERBOARD]

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Throughout our work week, in the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

3D PRINTING | ELECTRONICS

3D Printing Circuits Onto Human Skin

Micheal McAlpine of the University of Minnesota has developed a technique to draw an electrical circuit directly onto the skin; uses could include chemical sensing, solar charging, heart monitoring, and more. The system uses computer vision to adjust its position in real time, allowing it to print complex designs onto unreliable surfaces. In addition to laying down “wires” composed of silver flakes in solution that cure at room temperature, the targeting system has also been used to layer cells onto an open wound on a mouse. [DISCOVER]

STRATEGY | MANAGEMENT | INNOVATION

Do You Have an Organization That Can Manage the Present and Invent the Future?

An open letter to CEOs from Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur (inventors of the Business Model Canvas). They point out that “innovation is only an expensive gamble when you do it wrong,” and then go on to lay out their view of a 21st century organizational structure that can be world class both at managing factories AND manufacturing new growth engines. “If you don’t want to end up like Kodak, Nokia, or Blackberry, then you have to start now.” [THINKGROWTH.ORG]

SLEEP SCIENCE | PODCAST

Your Lack of Sleep Is Killing You. Literally.

An intensely interesting, long-form interview with Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Dr. Walker knows more about the science and impact of sleep than anyone alive, and he’s a great communicator. If you don’t have time to listen on your commute or in the gym, there’s a good review of Walker’s recent book, “Why We Sleep,” here. In addition to the link at the headline, you can also find the podcast on iTunes or anywhere else that carries popular podcasts. PG13 warning: the interviewer, Joe Rogan, occasionally uses colorful language, and there is a brief discussion of mind-altering substances. [THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE]

NUCLEAR POWER | ENERGY

This Is How a Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Works

After nearly forty years of almost no development, interest in thorium for clean power generation is picking up again, with new plants coming on line in the Netherlands and China. Thorium is incredibly abundant in the Earth’s crust, and molten salt thorium reactors have many advantages over existing plant designs: they can’t melt down, produce almost no plutonium, can—in fact—consume plutonium from existing stockpiles, produce only tiny amounts of other transuranics, are smaller and cheaper to operate than traditional fast breeders, and produce waste that remains dangerous for a much shorter time. [POPULAR SCIENCE]

MATERIAL SCIENCE | SENSORS

Graphene Opens Up New Applications for Microscale Resonators

A range of sensing and communications technologies, such as satellites, already rely on tiny devices called resonators—also known as vibrating microelectromechanical and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). But engineers have faced limits in the temperatures these tiny components can withstand and the range of frequencies that they can pick up. Now scientists at Case Western Reserve University have constructed resonators out of a single layer of graphene that can withstand high temperatures and operate across a broad range of frequencies. [C&EN]

Read More

Throughout our work week, in the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

COMPUTING | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Chinese Police Add Facial-Recognition Glasses to Surveillance Arsenal

China is already the global leader in deploying cutting-edge surveillance technologies based on artificial intelligence. Now, mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses are expanding the reach of that surveillance, allowing authorities to peer into places that fixed cameras aren’t scanning, and to respond more quickly. Unlike many fixed-camera facial-recognition systems that remotely connect cameras to vast facial databases stored in the cloud, the police glasses are wired directly to a hand-held device that contains an offline database—allowing them to work more quickly. [WALL STREET JOURNAL]

STRATEGY | INNOVATION | DISRUPTION

How GE Got Disrupted

GE’s problems are no secret, but their source is interesting: they spent the last few decades cutting costs, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency, yet it’s hard to think of any major invention that’s come out of the company since the CT scanner back in the 1970s. Six Sigma will only take you so far if you stop exploring: until GE can learn to make new discoveries that lead to new markets, its future will be in question. [DIGITAL TONTO]

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In the course of our research for clients across many industries and fields, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we deliver five interesting things we came across during the preceding weeks. And no filler.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Nokia and Vodafone Will Bring 4G to the Moon

With upcoming, non-governmental space missions delivering two new rovers to the lunar surface, Nokia and Vodafone are partnering to create a 4G base-station on the moon. The Vodafone station will use Nokia hardware to communicate more seamlessly with the rovers as well as stream high-def video back to Earth. [ENGADGET]

BATTERY CHEMISTRY

Investment in Lithium-ion Technologies May Crowd Out Future Innovation

This article highlights how the growth of lithium-ion-based battery infrastructure is creating technological lock-in: in spite of known thermal hazards and the impracticality of lithium-ion for powering airplanes and large trucks, chemistries beyond lithium-ion are facing higher barriers to entry and, thus, less commercial interest. The article suggests policymakers need to respond to lithium-ion lock-in by promoting research and development in high energy density alternatives, like aluminium-air or lithium-sulfur. [BROOKINGS INSTITUTION]

POLYMERS | SUSTAINABILITY

Lego Bricks to Be Made from Plants

Implementing a sustainability roadmap developed in 2015, the Danish manufacturer began production of Lego blocks from bio-based polyethylene. Beginning with the plant-like tree and leaf Lego pieces, the move from ABS to more sustainable materials will start small but looks to provide a different meaning and a sustainable future for “block polymers.” [CHEMICAL & ENGINEERING NEWS]

COMPUTING | BIOMEDICAL DEVICES

Biocomputer and Memory Built Inside Living Bacteria

Reporting on two separate feats in bioengineering, this article recaps original research in which the DNA of e.coli was manipulated to store data and, indirectly, perform basic logic functions. Researchers at Harvard archived a 36×26 pixel GIF in the e.coli DNA and then were able to retrieve the GIF with 90% efficiency and obviously recognizable form. Separately but concurrently at Harvard, a synthetic strand of DNA introduced to e.coli directed the cell to produce a RNA-based “computer” capable of basic logic and programming. [IEEE SPECTRUM]

INNOVATION | CORPORATE STRATEGY

The Five New Forces In Innovation Strategy

The article summarizes some key topics from the Drucker Forum 2017 with a focus on the five new forces outlined by Lean Start-Up pioneer Steve Blank. In addition to discussing the five forces, the article notes the importance of avoiding “innovation theater” by maintaining a healthy innovation pipeline with measured results. [FORBES]

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