Navigant Research Blog

Stop and Smell the Market Indicators

— May 17, 2018

Last month, Philips Lighting revealed its new Philips GreenPower LED toplighting with a light spectrum optimized for cut rose cultivation. The toplighting technology allows growers to increase light levels year-round without increasing heat, which allows for increased yield production. However, the rose market has advanced in recent years to the point that growers are now more concerned with quality of production. Addressing those concerns along with energy efficiency needs, Philips collaborated with research institutes to provide growers with a toplighting spectrum that improves the quality of the roses and is 40% more energy efficient compared to high pressure sodium lighting. While the technology is important for horticulturalists and agriculture research globally, why would a lighting manufacturing giant like Philips focus on grow solutions for roses? The answer is twofold.

The Wall Street of Flowers

The Netherlands is the trade capital of the global rose market and home to the world’s largest flower market, Royal FloraHolland. Every day, 30 million plants and flowers from all over the world are auctioned at Royal FloraHolland, with operations covering over 14 million square feet—equivalent to 243 football fields. Almost half the world’s flowers and plants pass through one of the 11 cooperatively-run regional flower auctions, with buyers and sellers bidding on trading floors just like a typical stock exchange in financial markets. The sheer scale of this market alone gives reason to why manufacturers would want to specialize in lighting solutions for rose cultivation. Yet bidding wars at Royal FloraHolland are just the beginning.

More Competition, More Opportunities

Developing countries in Africa are starting to take up a larger share of the European market for cut flowers and foliage. The CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that major suppliers Kenya, Ecuador, Ethiopia, and Colombia have seen a 20%-60% growth in exports of flowers and foliage to Europe. Producers in these regions are strengthening their position in global production and trade, mainly due to favorable growing circumstances, rising demand for competitively priced flowers in Europe, and improved transportation. To remain competitive, European growers are looking to advanced lighting solutions for delivering quality, reliability, and consistency in supply. This is why major lighting manufacturers like Philips and OSRAM have noticed and are taking stock in this burgeoning market. Companies may want to tap into this blossoming market as investment opportunities and demand for unique lighting solutions continue to grow out of this competitive space.

For more details, a recent report from Navigant Research, LED Lighting for Horticultural Applications, examines the global market potential for horticultural lighting.


How Hyperloops and Other Futuristic Innovations Could Affect Urban Mobility

— May 15, 2018

With limited space on urban streets, cities will likely need to use new technology innovations to make their transportation systems more 3D. This would include the increased utilization of elevated tracks, higher usage of tunneling (beyond traditional metro systems), and flying vehicles. Hyperloops, underground automated pods, and air taxis offer both these possibilities and the potential to transform traditional transportation markets.


Hyperloops hold significant potential to become the first new mode of public transport in over 100 years, promising drastically shortened intercity travel times, lower costs, and decreased negative environmental impacts. The technology uses electromagnetic propulsion to transport passengers in a capsule through a vacuum tube at speeds of up to 1,200 km/h (745 mph).

Hypothetically, hyperloop technology could transform commuting and even affect real estate prices by enabling workers to live hundreds of miles away from their offices. Nevertheless, Navigant Research does not expect the currently experimental technology to approach mainstream adoption over the next 10 years. The fastest speed achieved by hyperloop pilots thus far is 387 km/h (240 mph), far off from the 1,200 km/h (745 mph) speed needed to transport passengers in the short travel times that are claimed as possible. Additionally, a myriad of technological, safety, regulatory, and business model challenges will have to be overcome for hyperloops to become a viable mass-transport technology option.

In an interesting development, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced an investment in Hyperloop One in late 2017 and created a new company called Virgin Hyperloop One. The strategic partnership with Virgin adds experience and credibility to the hyperloop industry. Virgin is well-known as a leading innovator in the transportation industry—primarily in the airline, cruise ship, rail, and commercial space travel industries.

Underground Automated Pods

Elon Musk’s Boring Company is attempting to develop a high speed underground public transport system using automated pods. The pods would travel on electric skates, reaching speeds of 125-150 mph and carrying between 8 and 16 passengers. The Boring Company is proposing a Washington, DC-to-Baltimore Loop, which would involve the construction of parallel, twin underground tunnels (which would eventually extend to New York City).

There are several benefits of using underground tunnels and pods in the mobility context, including the lack of weather impacts and the near unlimited number of layers of tunnels that could be built. However, tunnels are expensive to dig and projects have cost as much as $1 billion per mile. The Boring Company aims to reduce this cost by a factor of 10, which is a necessary first step if the company is to be successful.

Air Taxis

Several companies and cities are aiming to launch flying taxi services within the next 10 years (e.g., Volocopter, Kitty Hawk, and Uber).There are a number of concerns with flying taxis, including but not limited to issues related to poor weather conditions, safety, affordability, technological maturity, and the need to attain regulatory approvals from aviation regulators. It is also important to note that most predictions about the near-term deployment of flying cars have been wildly incorrect thus far. Flying taxi services will likely have a place in the future of urban mobility, though Navigant Research expects unmanned flying vehicles be used for hauling commercial goods in the near-term as that is far simpler than transporting commuters.

Too Early to Tell

Due to continued urbanization, a variety of transformative technologies are needed both to improve the current state of mobility in cities and to manage the influx of additional populations. Hyperloops, underground automated pods, and air taxis are three highly experimental, futuristic innovations that have the potential to deliver on these lofty goals. The progression toward commercial deployment over the next 10 years will provide a much clearer picture around the viability (or lack thereof) for these innovative solutions.


Leading City Approaches to Urban Mobility Disruption

— May 3, 2018

Promising mobility solutions are rapidly developing. A variety of solutions—EVs, automated vehicles (AVs), intelligent transportation systems, smart parking systems, last-mile logistics, mass transit innovations, and mobility as a service options (MaaS)—are expected to approach mainstream adoption within the next decade. Together, these technology innovations have the potential to not only address major urban challenges like traffic congestion and air pollution, but also to radically transform mobility in the city.

New Mobility Models under Development

However, the picture is fuzzy on what mobility models will work in cities. No major city has eliminated the plight of traffic congestion, and urban air pollution levels continue to be a problem in most (if not all) countries. Nevertheless, a number of global cities are developing innovative and even radical approaches to urban mobility, which will disrupt transportation models and push the boundaries of traditional transportation policy.

The following table outlines some of the approaches that forward-thinking cities are taking toward reimagining urban mobility, and the key differentiators enabling their success.

Innovative Approaches to Urban Mobility: 2018

(Source: Navigant Research)

These mobility programs will change not only how people move about in cities, but also how cities are designed and managed. Collaborative management from a number of stakeholders (city planners and regulators, transportation companies, utilities, smart city suppliers, and energy companies) is key to unleashing the mobility revolution and moving cities in a positive direction.

An Ongoing Process

The jury is still out on which city programs will be most effective at curbing traffic congestion. As these programs are rolled out, other cities can learn best practices to replicate and explore opportunities to develop new urban mobility models in the coming years.

For more in-depth analysis on these leading city mobility programs, keep an eye out for Navigant Research’s upcoming report, Urban Mobility Innovations.


Tech Companies Are Shifting Health Services to the Home

— April 12, 2018

The healthcare industry faces many challenges due to a growing elderly population, increased lifespans, general population growth, and a greater number of chronic conditions. The digitization of healthcare is solving some of these issues by enhancing the quality and cost-effectiveness of patient care and support. Digital healthcare solutions can empower consumers to better engage and control their own health, moving healthcare services from the hospital to the home, a trend that is discussed at length in the Navigant Research report Capitalizing on the Nexus of IoT and Home Healthcare.

Amazon Leading in Health Innovations

Stakeholders across the residential value chain are recognizing the potential opportunity in the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and healthcare, as demonstrated in increased market activity over the past year. For example, Amazon, which has made significant strides in recent years with its Echo products, Alexa digital assistant, and various in-home services, has also been making significant (though somewhat secretive) investments in healthcare.

The company alluded to its plans in 2016 when CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted saying, “I think healthcare is going to be one of those industries that is elevated and made better by machine learning and artificial intelligence. And I actually think Echo and Alexa do have a role to play in that.” Since then, the company has announced a partnership with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to improve healthcare services for its US employees, partnered with Merck and Luminary Labs for the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, and piloted an Alexa skill with Libertana Home Health for elderly care.

Other Companies Are Capitalizing on This Market

Amazon is not the only tech company becoming more invested in the health services industry. Uber also recently announced its Uber Health service, which allows a range of healthcare professionals to book rides to medical facilities on their clients’ behalf.

In March 2018, Google outlined a roadmap to move the healthcare industry to the cloud, which includes its new Cloud Healthcare API to help healthcare organizations manage, analyze, and detect trends from patient data. Apple is investing in health through the rollout of its Apple Watch 3, which is enhanced with several health features like heart rhythm monitoring, which the company is also focusing on in a pilot with Stanford Medicine.

Health Emerging as a Smart Home Use Case

IoT technologies are expected to have a major impact on the healthcare industry, and are already shifting many services into the home and hands of consumers. This has created the emergence of health as a value proposition for the smart home. Significant investments from tech companies not only show the significance of this market, but also contribute to increased competition. This is a signal to other companies invested in the residential market that healthcare should weigh in as a use case when developing future roadmaps for their products and services.


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