Osram buys stake in grow box startup for home horticultural market

May 16, 2017
Munich-based agrilution's plantCube fits neatly in a kitchen for reach-in herbs and vegetables.

Munich-based agrilution's plantCube fits neatly in a kitchen for reach-in herbs and vegetables.

Osram has taken another step into horticultural lighting, this time targeting the residential market by acquiring a minority stake in a German startup that makes climate-controlled boxes for growing greens and herbs in the kitchen using optimized light, water, and temperature.

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Munich-based Osram did not have to look far to find the firm, agrilution, which also operates out of Munich and which was already using tunable Osram LED technology inside its grow box.

The box, called plantCube, is about the size of a compact refrigerator and intelligently controls light spectrum and intensities to cultivate lettuce, basil, dill, parsley, chard, spinach, beetroot, and other produce.

Neither company disclosed the size of the investment, which Osram made through its quasi-independent venture capital arm, Fluxunit.

LEDs Magazine and its sister groups Lux Magazine and Strategies Unlimited are holding two one-day horticultural lighting conferences, one in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on May 23rd and one in Denver, CO on Oct. 17th. Learn more at horticulturelightingconference.com.

The plantCube makes use of optimized LED-based horticultural lighting and other technology to grow herbs and vegetables in the home kitchen. (Photo credit: agrilution.)

“The smart home appliance identifies the seeds that have been planted and provides an optimal growing environment by automatically regulating temperature, watering, and lighting conditions,” an Osram spokesperson said. “This makes it possible to grow herbs, salad, and vegetables regardless of weather and climate.”

Users can further control and interact with plantCube via a smartphone app.

“Osram, with its lighting and horticultural expertise, can help to improve and enhance agrilution,” said Fluxunit boss Ulrich Eisele, who called agrilution “the perfect fit for Osram.”

Other investors in agrilution include Tengelmann Ventures and Kraut Capital.

Osram is one of many companies chasing the horticultural lighting market, where technology continues to advance to help apply customized lighting conditions to different plants. With the horticultural industry valued in general at $300 billion by the US Department of Agriculture, the opportunities for LED lighting could be enormous.

A year ago, Osram Americas introduced its Zelion HL300 line of fully-spectrum-tunable and dimmable horticultural lighting products for users to deploy throughout various stages of crop growth.

Earlier this year, Italian commercial basil grower Servizi Ambientali Bassa Reggiana reported a boost in yields from lights made fixture maker Ambra using Osram components. The grower also said it slashed energy usage by 56% relative to the high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting used previously, and increased yield via a five-day-shorter production cycle enabled by the solid-state lighting (SSL).

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

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.