Fagerhult decides to keep Organic Response IoT tech in house (UPDATED)

June 6, 2017
The Swedish vendor will no longer provide the prized IoT gear to rivals such as Feilo Sylvania and GE. It will develop it for its own brands only.

The Swedish vendor will no longer provide the prized IoT gear to rivals such as Feilo Sylvania and GE. It will develop it for its own brands only.

Fagerhult Group, the Swedish lighting company that recently acquired key Internet of Things (IoT) assets from Australia's struggling Organic Response, has decided to keep the technology in house and will not provide it to competitors such as Feilo Sylvania and General Electric, LEDs Magazine has learned.

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The decision ends two months of speculation on whether Fagerhult would continue to supply others with hardware and software from what it has renamed OR Technologies Pty. Ltd, based in Melbourne.

“The strategy is to keep the OR technology in the group and not offer it through the OEM channel,” Fagerhult chief financial officer Michael Woods confirmed for LEDs via email this morning. “We look forward to the group opportunities this will bring across our many brands.”

Habo, Sweden-based Fagerhult operates at least 11 different lighting brands. Several of them, including Fagerhult, Australia's Eagle, and the UK's Whitecroft, use the OR technology.

All Organic Response roads now lead to Fagerhult headquarters (pictured), as the company will keep the newly renamed OR technology in house and will not provide it on an OEM basis. (Photo credit: Creative Commons.)

Organic Response was a startup that was highly regarded for technology that turns luminaires into IoT devices. Users deploy its sensors and other wares both to improve lighting control and to use lights to gather data on building use. For example, it can collect information on occupancy, which facilities managers use to decide how to reassign space. Or retailers can use it to engage in-store customers with discounts and information.

But as a pioneer in IoT lighting, Organic Response ultimately ran into financial difficulties and entered financial administration last February, before Fagerhult acquired many of its assets in early April.

While Organic Response had an impressive roster of customers using its technology for lighting control, it seemed to have a dearth of end users who were deploying it for data collection, which is where the potential business bonanza lies. Fagerhult is expected to pursue such opportunities, and to develop new generations of OR technology.

As LEDs reported in April, Fagerhult is in the process of restarting production of OR gear through contract manufacturer Flex. “All is proceeding to plan on all fronts — setup, production, marketing, and group engagement,” Wood said today.

Another problem that Organic Response faced was that competitors started to enter the market.

Meanwhile, one of Organic Response's highest-profile IoT customers, Feilo Sylvania, is expected as soon as next week to disclose new smart lighting initiatives as it adjusts to life after Organic Response. Fagerhult had arranged for interim supplies to customers such as Feilo, an arrangement that will now end — if it hasn't already — at some date that the parties did not publicly reveal.

“We have identified a number of solutions in the market which now offer the same benefits, and as a matter of fact do much more than the Organic Response solution,” said Bastiaan de Groot, Feilo's global director of strategy and new business development. “We have already started to migrate our customers to these new solutions and will publicly announce our new solutions next week.”

De Groot noted that Organic had been ahead of its time but that rivals have caught up. “Our customers are delighted that we can already offer them solutions with features that were previously more than 12 months away on our roadmap,” he said. “This is why we do not believe in making a solution proprietary. In the current market you will be out-innovated; we therefore have a strict open-innovation policy which allows us to offer our customers the best smart lighting technology in the market, regardless of whether we invented it ourselves or not.”

Feilo was one of the few vendors that was already using OR’s IoT technology for property management. It struck a deal last year with Dutch standards body NEN to install lighting that would help NEN better allocate offices, conference rooms and the like at NEN's Delft headquarters.

In addition to Feilo and GE's Current unit, other Organic Response customers have included Australian operations of Zumtobel and Thorn, as well as Holland's Koopman Interlight.

MARK HALPERis a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

*Updated 10:35am June 6, 2017 for announcement timing and quotes.