Signify fortifies its medical cannabis research

June 13, 2022
A partnership in an undisclosed location looks at lighting and nutrients. Signify’s existing horticultural group won’t share findings with its newly acquired Fluence. All in the family?

At an undisclosed location somewhere in Holland, Signify is stepping up its research into medical cannabis, joining with two partners to raise the crop indoors with no natural light, before destroying it.

The world’s largest lighting company is providing the compact version of its Philips GreenPower LED toplights, as well its Philips brand interlights for cannabis grown hydroponically on table tops, using Signify GrowWise controls.

The company is working with Light4Food, a horticultural systems specialist that is also a Signify reseller based in Horst, Holland; and with Plagron Professional, a horticultural substrate, fertilizer, and nutrient outfit based in Weert, Holland.

The three outfits “work closely together on the trials to see what the impact of certain light recipes, nutrition, etc. have on the crop growth and cannabinoids in the flowers,” a spokesperson told LEDs Magazine.

The project is examining the effect of interlighting on medical cannabis plants, using the technology on some but not all of the crops in order to compare and contrast. (Interlighting is the practice of placing light sources among the leaves, as opposed to above the crop). It will also experiment with other aspects of lighting, as well as with irrigation, climate control, fertilizers, bio stimulants, and more.

Wherever the facility is, it has not been purpose built for the new research alliance. It has been used previously for testing other crops, the spokesperson said. She declined to reveal whether it belongs to Signify or the other two companies. It is now outfitted with four 8×1.2m tables for hydroponic medical cannabis crops. 

A couple of photos that Signify released of the research facility include tables and wall-mounted gear labeled Light4Food, suggesting the location might belong to the Horst company.

The project started earlier this year. The threesome is about to harvest its second round. Each cycle takes about 12 to 13 weeks from seeding through flowering, depending on the variety. The partners do not expect to reach their first conclusions until after the first two to three full cycles of repetitive research, the spokesperson said.

The companies will use insights to better advise customers on products and implementation, and might share the information more openly in the future.

One outfit that should not expect to see the results is Fluence, a sister Signify horticultural division that has built up plenty of its own cannabis expertise, having pioneered a substantial business through a fair amount of rough-and-tumble.

“We act as separate entities,” the Signify spokesperson told LEDs. “So this information will be kept confidential to the Philips brand team.” The Philips brand is part of what Signify calls its Horticulture LED Solutions division (Horti), based at Signify headquarters in Eindhoven, Holland.

Signify acquired Austin, TX–based Fluence from ams Osram last month after agreeing to the acquisition in December for $272 million in cash on a debt-free basis.

As LEDs reported in February, Fluence, like Horti, will continue to sell globally, with Fluence having more of a North American focus and Eindhoven a more European one. At the time of that article, we pointed out that while Fluence’s strength is cannabis and Signify Horti’s is noncannabis, they will each serve both product segments. The new Signify partnership is aimed at fortifying Horti’s place in the cannabis market.

The partnership is focused on research and is not a joint marketing or distribution initiative.

“All plants are destroyed after harvest,”  the Signify spokesperson said.

No wonder they’re staying mum on the location. It’s easy to imagine someone getting overly interested in the waste.

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

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.