ROBO Brief: Moderna Makes A Difference, Grubhub Acquired, and RBR50

    This week, we dive into the acquisition of Grubhub, the index companies included in Robotics Business Review's Innovation Awards, and the ways in which Moderna is revolutionizing medicine. Please enjoy these insights from our research team.

    Index Members Among the RBR50 Innovation Awards

    The 2020 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Awards, which celebrate forward-thinking robotics and automation companies, include 11 members from the ROBO and THNQ portfolios. More than half of this year’s winners are new to the list, representing an increasingly broader set of industries, such as healthcare, business process, recycling, forestry, and retail.

    Nearly half of this year’s winners are involved in factory automation, such as ABB Robotics and Yaskawa, as well as collaborative robot leader Universal Robots (Teradyne). Component suppliers Nvidia, for its processors, and Harmonic Drive, for its speed reduction gears, also made the list. Autonomous Mobile Robots are well represented, with many involved in supply chain and logistics operations, such as 6 River Systems (Shopify) and Locus (Zebra). Investors, partners, and acquirers plowed over $3bn in to this year’s award winners, primarily around autonomous driving, logistics, end-of-arm tooling, sensors, and industrial automation.

    iRobot, the maker of the Roomba, also made the list. After coming under significant margin pressure in 2019 due to the weight of China’s import tariffs, the world’s leading consumer robot company said on Monday that it now anticipates second quarter revenue of $260–270m, roughly 40% higher than prior expectations, and showing a return to profits, after experiencing strong orders for premium Roomba robot vacuums and Braava robot mops. Maintaining a clean home certainly has become a higher priority for many consumers. iRobot is the best performing stock in the ROBO index so far this year, up more than 60%.

    There's So Much More to Moderna Than a Coronavirus Vaccine

    As the world eagerly awaits a coronavirus vaccine, HTEC company Moderna recently announced its plan to advance its vaccine to Phase 3 next month. While we are very impressed with the company’s speed of clinical advancement, it’s the technology behind the vaccine that gets us most excited about Moderna over the long term. 

    Moderna is revolutionizing medicine in two ways. First, the company focuses on mRNA, or messenger RNA therapies, which provides information to the cell on how to make proteins to prevent or cure diseases. FDA approval of any mRNA therapy would be a boon to this science. Second, Moderna’s entire operation is fully digitized, automated, and leverages AI to reduce thousands of hours of manpower, which has enabled them to bring over 20 other therapies to clinical trial in a short amount of time. Moderna’s also working on vaccines for RSV, CMV, and HIV, which could drive growth for this company well beyond global coronavirus needs.

    Grubhub A Prized Meal for Just Eat Takeaway

    In an all-stock deal, Dutch food-delivery company Just Eat Takeaway announced its plans to acquire Grubhub, a THNQ Index member, for $7.3B, giving the brand its first presence in the US. The combined entity will be the world’s largest food delivery business outside China and is one of the few profitable players in the space, processing ~593 million orders last year. 

    This transformation of the food order and delivery process was made possible by AI and machine-learning algorithms. For the past 8 years, Grubhub has invested heavily in AI analytics and predictive maintenance. For example, the company algorithmically recommends dishes, helping restaurants optimize their food choices and attract new customers with fast service. Building a recommendation engine with unstructured data is not easy with over 100k diverse restaurants and menus.

    Grubhub built a team of data scientists, software engineers, and various chefs to decipher over 14 million menu items in categories of datasets. The more you order, the finer the system builds your taste profile, allowing for targeted predictive recommendations. Both Grubhub and Just Eat Takeway have created an entirely new business model by using ML, chatbots, and smart algorithms to give customers a personalized culinary experience.

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