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Thanks for sharing! It is interesting how Walmart is currently integrating their in-store and online shopping experiences. I wonder how much online shopping has impacted the positioning of “every day low price” though. For example, customers with smartphones can easily look-up prices at competitors while shopping at Walmart, and determine where to purchase specific goods. At the same time this could simply be a short term concern, because in the long-run as their online base grows they could essentially turn their stores into warehouses with different delivery options as customers make their selections online.

Hi Alex, thanks for sharing! The kitchen was definitely the hub at home, and I wonder if technology like a smart-fridge will become the hub of broader smart-home technology. For example, integrating smart home-security, smart-doorbell, temperature control, lighting control, etc into the same interface that is displayed on the fridge. It kind of reminds of the Smart House movie where there was a centralized system that controlled everything in the house.

Interesting article! I had heard about precision agriculture from the perspective of seed selection and determining the application rate(s) of different chemical treatments throughout the growing cycle, such as DowAgro’s platform [1]. However, it is interesting to hear about the approach from equipment manufacturers. In the long-run AGCO’s approach seems more integrative and holistic; however, I wonder what the replacement cycle is for ag equipment and if that will hurt the adoption of this technology. Possibly other players may be able to reach customers faster due to the consistent seasonal nature of seed and chemical purchases compared to the periodic purchases of equipment.

[1] Dow AgroSciences Puts Growers at the Center of a New Precision Agronomy Program. (March 3 2016). Accessed from:

On November 20, 2016, asap commented on AdhereTech and the Smart Pill Bottle :

Ethan – Thanks for sharing! I had come across similar technologies before in the news and I wonder how Adheretech stacks up compared to its competition. In particular, it seems the barriers to entry are very low, for example the patents are likely narrow on the design allowing different minor modifications on a similar concept. One interesting differentiator in this case is their revenue model though. For high-cost medications I can see that pharmaceutical companies would get on board with paying for these bottles, or for using them during clinical trials etc. On the other hand for low-cost medications, or patients taking many medications, I wonder if the monthly patient plans offered by competitor MedMinder are more compelling [1].


On November 20, 2016, asap commented on Innovation in Digital Identity Verification :

Sam – Interesting article, thanks for sharing! It got me thinking what the applications are beyond ID verification for specific groups to broader digital identification for facilitating online transactions. In the long run it seems this could be integrated further into the actual organizations/government bodies that issue different forms of identification (i.e. digital driver’s license, passport, student id, etc). The partnership with NIST seems promising along these lines to eventually make a standardized form of online identification. Going through a standardized approach could better address the identity theft issues more directly than other localized efforts for digital IDs. For example, Colorado recently started a 2-year pilot program for digital driver’s licenses [1]; however, many localized developments may leave holes for identify theft.

[1] Sorto, G. Colorado will soon allow digital driver’s licenses. CNN (Nov 16 2016). Accessed from:

Thanks for sharing – the supply chain constraints in India are really interesting especially when it comes to cold storage and quick distribution, and this could potentially be another area where Mother Dairy could make an impact with the growing challenges that arise with climate change. Since Mother Dairy has a broad reach in F&V retail outlets and connection to farms, I’m curious if they’ve taken any efforts to improve the supply chain and reduce food spoilage. Stats show that India has as much as 20-40% food spoilage between farms and consumers [1]. A company like Mother Dairy is positioned to make improvements in this supply chain, and could reduce their own costs through improved “yields” of product making it to the retail shelves.

[1] Sustainable Approached to Reducing Food Waste in India. MIT. Accessed from:

While I definitely understand the skepticism towards Monsanto, I’m not convinced that the lack of sustainability references in the 10-K and the existence of an environmental remediation & litigation reserve is sufficient to dismiss their efforts. Monsanto appears to be aware of changes they need to make regarding sustainable agriculture, albeit moving at a slower pace than society or industry may expect. For example, Monsanto’s governance structure includes a Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Committee that monitors the performance related to sustainability, environmental issues, etc. which demonstrates (some) degree of leadership buy-in [1]. Additionally, in their Annual Sustainability Report, they identify a number of “material issues” related to the environment that are critical both to external stakeholders as well as to their business success [2]. Finally, their Sustainable Agriculture White Paper goes into two metrics they are targeting – to double yields by 2030 and to develop agriculture practices that use 1/3 fewer resources by 2030 [3]. They could integrate these measures more holistically throughout the organization to make them fundamental drivers of their business and I am curious how they approach product stewardship and life cycle management. But at least on the surface, they appear to be shifting from a reactive mode to more of a proactive mode. It still begs the question if they will be able to course correct, or if their business practices will continue to hinder progress.

[1] Corporate Governance Structure. Monsanto. Accessed from:\.
[2] 2015 Sustainability Report. Monsanto. Accessed from:
[3] Sustainable Agriculture White Paper. Accessed from:

On November 7, 2016, asap commented on Water: Our World’s Most Valuable Resource! :

Thanks for sharing about how Xylem is involved in the water infrastructure, the diagram was helpful! I agree that the infrastructure to transport, treat, and test water is a significant endeavor, not only for residential/commercial uses, but also for irrigation and industry. This is likely to be a growing business for companies like Xylem, because according to the OECD water demand will increase by 50% globally by 2050, in large part due to industrial and agricultural demands [1]. As a result, Xylem is positioned to address this growing need that will only be exacerbated by climate change. I also agree with your point that this technology could be expanded to emerging markets that will be more significantly at risk for water issues. The World Resources Institute has an interesting visual through their Aqueduct project that visualizes a ranking of countries with projected water stress in 2040 that could guide where this technology would be most impactful [2].

[1] Water: The Challenges for Business. PWC. Accessed from:
[2] Aqueduct Projected Water Stress Country Rankings. World Resources Institute. Accessed from:

Interesting article! I had heard about algae biofuel applications for ethanol production, such as the technology at Algenol, but this is the first time I have seen applications for jet fuel in particular [1]. I definitely agree with your point regarding the need for public and private sector involvement, since it is a highly capital-intensive endeavor that relies on technological improvements and infrastructure. When I looked into biofuels for jet fuel, I came across an interesting DARPA initiative that was seeking to reduce the military’s dependence on petroleum-based fuels and was providing funding for a few companies for research in developing biofuels based on algae and cellulosic feedstocks [2]. There seemed to be some initial success, with a 2010 article stating that the effort was being scaled-up to large-scale refining for less than $3 a gallon [3]. However, this initial success did not seem to last as the effort has been closed out by DARPA and there haven’t been any more recent news regarding progress in this endeavor [2]. It begs the question if there are technological gaps of scaling-up this operation, or if the economics at scale don’t work out favorably. It also begs the question of the role of government initiatives to coordinate these types of big picture long-term endeavors to optimize the investments being made in this space. i.e. coordinating across industries that have value for this technology versus independent and possibly duplicative research efforts.

[2] McQuade, T. Biofuels (Archived). Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Accessed from:
[3] Algae to solve the Pentagon’s jet fuel problem. The Guardian. Accessed from:

Thanks for sharing Karyn. Climate change certainly impacts the agriculture industry widely and it was interesting to read about innovations in Dow AgroScience – not only on the product side with new technologies that improve yield, but also with regard to managing supply chain constraints that arise from the increased variability and unpredictability between seasons.

I’ll try to take a stab at one of the questions that Jasper raised in the above comment, with regard to the relationship between DAS and farmers. Based on my experience at DuPont Crop Protection, there is a very tight link between Ag companies and farmers, despite a few degrees of separation in the value chain with intermediary distributors and retailers. This comes through not only education programs to engage farmers with the latest technologies and practices, but also through platforms that help identify the appropriate products for the farmers at any stage in the growing cycle. For example, earlier this year Dow AgroScience launched a new “precision agriculture” platform, that essentially allows farmers to “farm smarter” by using data to assess the conditions of their land and select the appropriate mix of products to optimize yields [1]. These types of precision agriculture platforms have interesting parallels to precision medicine, where the solutions/treatments can be tailored to the conditions identified through various diagnostics measures. This type of farmer-partnership program is one piece of the puzzle to help address the increased variability that comes with climate change, and can be coupled with the technological innovations described above in the post.

[1] Dow AgroSciences Puts Growers at the Center of a New Precision Agronomy Program. Dow AgroScience Press Release. March 6 2016. Accessed from:

On November 7, 2016, asap commented on Can Chemical Manufacturers Take the Heat? :

Brian – Thanks for sharing. I agree that R&D spend could lead to future win-win technologies; however, it is also interesting to hear the progress that Dow is making on its footprint goals in the near-term. It seems the pressure to reduce their footprint has led to a shift in purchasing patterns for energy for their manufacturing operations, such as utilizing local wind-farms to sustain their Freeport, TX facility. In my prior role, I worked briefly on Greenhouse Gas Reporting across the DuPont manufacturing sites and often these “indirect” emissions from sourcing energy for operations amount to a more substantial portion of a facilities’ GHG impact compared to “direct” emissions from the facilities’ own processes [1]. As a result, Dow’s focus on the near-term footprint may in fact address the bigger piece of their GHG impact. At the same time, I’m also a bit conflicted because this approach almost shifts the responsibility to external parties, such as their partner Bordas Wind Energy who is running the wind farm. An entity with the scale and scope of Dow should be able to do more to address the technology landscape, because simply reducing their GHG metric may not truly address the underlying issue in the industry. i.e. It would be interesting to see if Dow’s commitment to cleaner sources of energy actually shifts the overall production levels of different forms of energy in the region.

[1] Greenhouse Gas Protocol – Corporate Standard. Accessed from:
[2] Dow to Become One of the Largest Industrial Buyers of Renewable Energy. Dow Press Release. Accessed from: