Intelligent plant lighting system inventor Heliospectra secures SEK10M from Industrifonden

11 Oct 2011 | News

Industrifonden invests SEK 10 million in Heliospectra’s intelligent lighting system. The company has developed a unique, energy-efficient system for greenhouses that accelerates plant growth. Also participating in the SEK 30 million issue are Midroc New Technology, the company’s current owners and chairman. The money will be used to launch the system in the European market.

With Heliospectra’s system, growers can adjust how their plants grow and in this way control quality. This includes the thickness of the stem and leaf, the plant’s size and tolerance, and how quickly it grows.

This is done using a light emitting diode (LED) system, which can be set at just the right wavelength needed to achieve the desired results for each type of plant. All plants have their own preferred wavelengths, and Heliospectra has the unique ability to develop algorithms that are adapted accordingly. Thus far the system is being used only on basil, which is the most abundantly grown crop in the greenhouse today, but the company is working on other plants.

“The business concept seems simple but is revolutionary, since it allows growers to continuously predict, control and plan the value of their plants,” says Stefan Jakélius, Investment Manager at Industrifonden. “Heliospectra is the only company in the world to offer this, and we see great opportunities for the company in a growing market.”

Another advantage of the system is the significant energy savings compared with today's lighting systems. It offers efficient production with less waste and is also well suited to organic growers, since the plants are controlled with light instead of pesticides.

“Industrifonden and Midroc are strong, stable owners, thanks to which we can now speed up our pace and venture out into Europe,” says Heliospectra CEO Staffan Hillberg.

Founded in 2006, Heliospectra originated from research in plant biology. The key person is the Canadian researcher Tessa Pocock, whose unique expertise in the impact of light on plants will now be brought to the market. The system has been developed in close collaboration with Heliospectra’s first customer, Swedeponic, which has tested and verified the system in different stages.

Heliospectra is located in Borås, but will soon be moving to Göteborg to share offices with the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK), which promotes the development of the food industry.

“It is fantastic to have owners who understand the potential of this system. The plants are complex but we know how to control them, and the opportunities to improve efficiencies in the greenhouse industry are enormous,” says Tessa Pocock.

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