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Vivid Technology takes smart LED lighting to emerging agritech sector

Agritech

Melbourne-based tech company Vivid Technology is spreading its wings into the growing horticulture lighting industry now that it’s proved itself as a provider of intelligent LED lighting systems for companies such as Coca Cola and Interface.

The company, which positions itself as both a clean tech and a proptech business provides internet of things connected intelligent ceilings for both commercial and industrial spaces, among other technologies. 

Chief innovation officer Samuel Redmond says that LED lighting started out as an enabler to introduce its clients to the efficiency-driving benefits of intelligent lighting systems, with the IoT enabled lighting systems capable of saving up to 90 per cent on electricity compared to conventional systems.

The technology acts as an enabler to dramatically improve energy efficiency, allowing businesses to see where people are working and turn lights off where they aren’t.

Redmond told The Fifth Estate that the company focused on industrial first because the sector was ripe for disruption, and the scale of warehouses and their operations means that any improvement in efficiency translates into big cost savings.

He also says the company’s experience in providing intelligent LED lighting systems for large industrial clients makes the company uniquely placed to do the same in the giant warehouses and greenhouses designed for growing crops.

“One of the challenges with growing population and more frequent storm events is the impact on the food we grow is substantial,” Redmond says.

This is leading to the growth of the “controlled environment agriculture” market where food is grown in warehouses and greenhouses that rely on artificial lighting – and often at great expense.

The agriculture industry is also one of Australia’s highest emitting sectors, responsible for 13 per cent of emission in 2017 according to the Climate Council of Australia. 

This makes horticulture lighting a “great space” for the company to focus on, Redmond says. 

The company is now working with several interested parties to develop high energy efficiency solutions for the horticulture lighting, including medical cannabis growers for both new and retrofitted intelligent lighting systems.

Sustainability is a core focus for the company

Redmond says the company is passionate about sustainability and it sees technology as an enabler to improve energy efficiency.

“There’s a deep focus on delivering financially viable solutions for the company and the customers that deliver long term benefit and positive impact,” he says.

But unlike a lot of tech companies working in the smart buildings space, he says sustainability is about more than just efficiency.

The company designs its various clean tech products to last decades and to be recycled or upcycled at end of life.

“We are thinking long term… It’s that real closed loop thinking embedded in our systems.”

The company also tries to use as few resources as possible and makes sure the systems themselves are adaptable and expandable so that they can grow to suit changing customer needs.

As the company expands into new places, it will look to forge ties with local manufacturers and suppliers to keep its transport-related emissions down while scaling up.

This is just the start for the company

The company started in Melbourne in 2008 and was originally focused on geothermal power generation. The company now has a presence along the eastern seaboard, Europe and Malaysia and employs a team of 25, including in its Melbourne offices.

“It’s tech designed in Australia for global operations,” Redmond explained.

The company’s clients include Interface, Coca Cola Amatil, Mercedes, Vicinity Centres and Stockland.

The company also has a subsidiary called NewCO2Fuels that can “profitably” convert CO2 into multi-purpose fuels (diesel, methanol or hydrogen) and oxygen.

The company’s chief marketing officer, Nadya Krienke-Becker, says the plan is to grow in impact, not just size.

Krienke-Becker says there’s momentum building behind intelligent lighting but there’s still a three-way split between those that are on board and are making the change, those that “get it” but are still stalling, and those that are generally disinterested in anything other than the cheapest option.

“These companies tend to be followers, who will implement new sustainable solutions when they become more market prevalent. But with speed of market acceptance of energy saving IoT technology and continued adoption by companies globally this will change,” she said.

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