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Osram acquires US ‘smart grow’ lighting firm

Lighting giant Osram is acquiring Fluence Bioengineering, Inc. of Austin, Texas. The company specialises in LED-based horticultural systems, using Osram LED chips, for a wide variety of applications including vertical farming, especially in urban areas.

Potential crops range from salad greens and herbs to medicinal plants. Fluence was founded in 2013, has approximately 95 employees and its 2017 sales were in the mid-double-digit millions of dollars (USD).

LED-based solutions from Fluence can increase harvests up to 25 percent, reducing energy costs by as much as 50 percent and, through the targeted use of light, improving the quality and nutritional content of plants.

Increasing population and continued urbanisation are intensifying the demand for fresh food, especially in densely populated cities around the world.

In addition to growing healthy and tasty food, vertical farms reduce the need for long-distance transportation routes. They also lessen the need for pesticides, fertilisers and excessive water use, and ultimately reduce spoilage.

“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.”

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.

Fluence Bioengineering, upon closing, will be positioned within Osram’s Professional and Industrial Applications segment in the Specialty Lighting business unit.