Horticultural lighting is one of the most vibrant markets for both research and development and new applications. Lighting giant Osram, Munich, Germany (with its U.S. facilities based in Wilmington, MA) took a big next step in its quest to become the leading provider of intelligent plant growth lighting by acquiring Fluence Bioengineering, Inc. of Austin, TX. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Fluence was founded in 2013, has approximately 95 employees and its 2017 sales were “in the mid-double-digit millions of dollars,” Osram said in a release announcing the deal. Fluence specializes in LED-based horticultural systems and uses Osram LED chips for a wide variety of growing applications including vertical farming, especially in urban areas, producing crops that range from salad greens and herbs to medicinal plants.
Fluence Bioengineering, upon closing, will join Osram’s Professional and Industrial Applications segment in the Specialty Lighting business unit. “We are excited to be teaming up with Osram to drive forward this global expansion and expand our digital product portfolio. Our new and existing customers will benefit from our partnership with Osram in all matters relating to light and sensors”, said Fluence CEO Nick Klase.
“Fluence is opening the floodgates to a huge future market,” said Stefan Kampmann, CTO of Osram Licht AG. “Its extensive knowledge of the horticulture market and possible applications, combined with Osram’s expertise in lighting technologies, sensors and connectivity, will position us as a leading horticultural solutions provider.” Associated smart farming software can be integrated into Osram’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform Lightelligence, which brings the digitalization of lighting control to a new level. By combining and analyzing sensor data, Lightelligence enables significant progress in automation and intelligent applications far beyond lighting.
LED-based solutions from Fluence increase harvests up to 25% and reduce energy costs by as much as 50% while improving the quality and nutritional content of plants through targeted lighting design.
Osram has increased its involvement in the horticulture sector over the last several years. The company has developed research and specialty luminaires that enable tailor-made light recipes to be controlled for specific plant types. In 2017, Osram invested in the Munich-based startup Agrilution which develops grow boxes with LED lighting for home use.