Horizons newsletter – week 42 // 2018
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Graphene is reaching a tipping point
Graphene, discovered in 2004 by peeling apart layers of graphite, is an extremely thin, ultra-lightweight material that is over 300 times stronger than steel. Although it is mostly seen as futuristic and expensive to produce, the University of Manchester has done groundbreaking research on graphene engineering and predicts the development of the material for the commercial market is on a tipping point. For instance, Huawei developed graphene-assisted heat-resistant Li-ion batteries that last twice as long as ordinary Li-ion batteries, and BGT Materials is producing energy-efficient graphene LED lightning. Graphene has even found its way into fashion with the development of smart and abrasion-resistant textiles. Besides commercial purposes, graphene also has broader applications: graphene oxide can clean up radioactive waste and graphene membranes provide a revolutionary way of desalination. History shows the worldwide impact of new materials. Steel, for instance, changed the world allowing the construction of higher buildings, stronger bridges and railroads. More promising than steel, graphene may contribute to a more sustainable world with long-lasting products, less waste and enough drinking water worldwide.
The age of genetic information
The age of information is increasingly expanding beyond digital information into genetic data. As DNA has proven to be an efficient way of storing data, entailing the entire history of human life, there is an increased interest in synthetic DNA data storage. Also, we have just begun to unlock possibilities for applications in human genetics. A milestone in the application in human genetics was the completion of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in 2003: it took over a decade and costed $2.7 billion, but gave an understanding of our own genetic information. In health care for instance, it has brought us closer to personalized medicine, with treatments tailored to an individual’s genetic composition. Moreover, to get access to the insights in the genetic background of inhabitants and the frequency of diseases in the population, countries – including the U.K., Japan, China, U.S. and France – are trying to complete national genome projects. As progress in understanding and applying genetic information accelerates, the age of genetic information heralds yet unanticipated advantages in many fields.
ePrivacy will redesign the digital ecosystem
With the dust still settling following the introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses should begin their preparations for another European privacy law. While GDPR broadly covers personal data, the upcoming ePrivacy regulation relates to the confidentiality of electronic communications and the tracking of Internet users. Since most online businesses rely on data (and in particular cookies) to track consumer behavior, the ePrivacy regulation has the potential to disrupt the entire digital ecosystem, affecting for instance media consumption, advertising, ecommerce and telecommunication. According to IHS Markit, the regulation could wipe out up to half of the €526bn European advertising market. The impacted industries have thus started a strong lobby for less stringent regulations. At the same time, consumer protection groups point to recent data misuse scandals to propose stricter regulation. It will likely take some years, but once ePrivacy is implemented, the industry will need alternative business models that respect privacy, provide consumers with relevant services and allow companies to transparently collect the data that is needed to provide these services.