by Anthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst
Lux Research

February 5, 2021

The chemicals and materials industry is going to see massive disruption in the next 20 years, and experts at Lux Research have identified startups and technologies leading the evolution of the industry. Lux published a list of top startups to watch in 2021 based on interviews with key startups pursuing chemicals and materials innovation. Lux’s experts, who evaluate companies on their technology, business strategy, leadership, and market positioning, have awarded all these companies a “Positive” or “Strong Positive” rating.

The chemicals and materials industry is going to see more dramatic change over the next 20 years than it has in at least the last 50,” says Anthony Schiavo, Senior Analyst at Lux. “Understanding and engaging with innovative startup companies that are driving these changes, or taking advantage of them, should be a critical part of the strategy for any organization in or working with the industry.” Lux’s “Top Chemicals & Materials Startups of 2020” categorize the companies based on alignment with four key trends:

1. The Chemicals & Materials Company of 2040 – The chemicals and materials industry is being transformed by pressure on energy and feedstocks as well as new digital business models. These changes will drive tighter integration among products, materials, and processes, and new platforms like NuMat’s metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) or Metamaterial’s functional metamaterials are key tools.

2. The Sustainability Imperative – Due to growing customer and regulatory pressures, it is imperative to cut CO emissions, eliminate waste, and mitigate environmental impacts. Meeting these challenges requires near-term technologies like bio-based materials, such as NotPLA’s algae-based edible plastic, as well as process changes to enable a circular economy, such as Vartega’s carbon Aber recycling.

3. Materials and Digital Transformation – Digital design and manufacturing tools like 3D printing, materials informatics, design software, and synthetic biology can accelerate commercialization timelines and create new business models for materials. Both materials producers and end users must become Yuent in new tools like nTopology’s generative design software or Velo3D’s additive manufacturing process to remain competitive.

4. Consumer Transformation – Rising demand from consumers for products with greater personalization, cleaner ingredients, more functionality, and reduced environmental impact creates needs for materials innovations. Materials companies need to be aware of changing downstream demands, be agile and Yexible in R&D, and engage with startups like reusable packaging platform TerraCycle or alternative protein supplier Perfect Day.

The named top startups include Cardea Bio, NBD Nano, Metamaterial, Herone, Boston Materials, Equispheres, Steelhead Composites, Hexigone Inhibitors, Envision SQ, Rein4ced, NuMat Technologies, Tesla NanoCoatings, Aeroseal, Dry Surface Technologies, Genomatica, Novamont, Notpla, Pond Biomaterials, Extracthive, Vartega, Red Leaf Pulp, Svante, Framergy, P2 Science, Bare Conductive, Kuprion, nTopology, Coyotex, Peratech, Velo3D, XTPL, TerraCycle, PurFi, Perfect Day, Conagen, SmartSolve, Sulapac, and PulpWorks. Download the market map to learn more.