All For Light: Fluence Bioengineering
Fluence Bioengineering, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of OSRAM, is a leading LED lighting supplier in the global cannabis market and is committed to enabling more efficient crop production with the world’s top vertical farms and greenhouse produce growers. Fluence global headquarters are based in Austin, Texas, with its EMEA headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Fluence by OSRAM is a leading global provider of energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial cannabis and food production. Since the company’s founding, its mission has been to improve the interaction between light and life to yield a healthier and more sustainable world.
Fluence founders Nick Klase and Randy Johnson were the first to introduce white light that mimics sunlight to the horticulture market. In the company’s earliest days, they built lighting solutions for aquariums. Klase’s photobiology expertise inspired aquarium lighting that yielded healthier tank environments. After Fluence’s early success, Klase and his team returned to their roots to transform their technology into solutions for commercial growers around the world.
Fluence solutions were a stark departure from the inefficient lighting systems on which cultivators relied. The company’s lighting solutions were not only more effective for production, but also used less energy, lasted longer and ran cooler, enabling tiered setups that multiplied indoor grow spaces while achieving impressive savings in energy, HVAC and water costs.
Fluence’s groundbreaking technology hit the market at a critical tipping point in the U.S. cannabis industry. You couldn’t discuss effective cannabis cultivation without mentioning Fluence lighting solutions. The team’s cultivation expertise, innovative technology, and deep horticulture knowledge catalyzed millions of dollars in revenue increases for growers, harvest after harvest.
After rising quickly to a leading status in cannabis lighting, Fluence grew its team with some of the world’s leading horticulture scientists and researchers to design systems that would lead to more sustainable forms of food production and to deliver leading insights that transform cultivation strategies for the better. The result was a diverse product portfolio that allowed the world’s largest greenhouses and indoor farms to shift away from wasteful legacy lighting to efficient LED technology that improved crop quality, optimized output and reduced their energy footprint.
In 2018, Fluence was acquired by the Munich-based lighting manufacturer OSRAM. By combining Fluence’s proven leadership in LED horticulture lighting systems with OSRAM’s expertise in lighting technologies, sensors and connectivity, Fluence now empowers cultivators worldwide to increase their output and quality, while achieving new margins and profits.
Fluence has since grown its employee base to more than 200 staff globally, established its European headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands, appointed key leaders in horticulture lighting and design, installed fixtures across approximately 3.4 million square feet of cannabis canopy, and welcomed dozens of indoor, greenhouse and vertical growers into its family.
The State of Cannabis Cultivation
As of May 2021, roughly a third of the total U.S. population has access to recreational cannabis. According to New Frontier Data, as of November 2020, adult-use and medical-use sales in the U.S. legal cannabis industry were expected to grow by 21 percent through 2025, not including the additional states that passed adult-use and medical-use legislation in early 2021.
Results from PEW Center, Gallup Poll and the General Social Survey all show similar results regarding changing opinions on legalization since 2010. The same New Frontier Data report notes that a $16-billion illicit cannabis market still exists in the top eight states without widespread cannabis legislation—including Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama and South Carolina. Texas alone represents a multibillion-dollar economic opportunity.
In short, the meteoric rise in the cannabis industry is clear. The best, most informed cultivators are enhancing the quality of their plants, yielding better, more nuanced products and ultimately nurturing a more refined taste among consumers. The operational philosophy of cannabis cultivation is also shifting from “grow fast” to “grow smart”: Industry leaders like Fluence are releasing best practices, investing heavily in research and striving to standardize an unregulated and unruly industry.
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Fluence’s Cultivation Philosophy
Fluence’s global team believes in one simple truth: Research and relationships, not just product solutions, will be the catalysts that guarantee individual cannabis growers will reach their full potential.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis cultivation. Every operation, every cultivar and every set of circumstances is unique. The strategies cultivators deploy to enhance profitability, maximize yield and optimize facilities should be, too. But the pursuit of perfection can’t be done alone. Cultivators need insights, which they won’t find by reading a manufacturer’s spec sheet. Cultivators need to know the strategies they implement will work because they were optimized for them, not because they worked for someone else.
Fluence’s goal is to connect customers to the research and relationships that address those needs. The company partners with leading research organizations around the world to better understand the critical role light plays in every facet of cannabis production, from plant quality and spectrum sensitivity to top-line performance metrics like yield and consistency.
Fluence’s latest research confirmed that broad-spectrum LEDs have the greatest impact on cannabis yield and plant quality, revealing up to 35 percent greater biomass in some cultivars under broad-spectrum LEDs in greenhouse and indoor environments.
“Investing in exploring the science behind Fluence’s solutions is crucial to staying educated, informed and ahead of important innovations in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry,” said David Cohen, CEO of Fluence. “We are dedicated to partnering with leading institutions and groundbreaking operators, such as Wageningen University and Research and Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation, on impactful, industry-driving research. These studies enable us to provide comprehensive LED solutions backed by data to cannabis growers around the world.”
Led by Science. Followed by All.
As Fluence unlocks the long-hidden secrets of consistent, high-quality cannabis production, its horticulture experts work with customers to apply learnings to their unique controlled environments. The only way to do that is to be on the ground in the grow with them, to see what they see every day and to ensure the growers play a critical role in finding the right solution and strategy to improve their operations and achieve top-line cultivation goals.
The Fluence horticulture services team welcomes the opportunity and the challenge. They’ve been where growers are. They know what it’s like to spend more time with plants than people. They support growers in their local markets and speak their local languages. And, ultimately, they know that success depends on the combined efforts of cultivators and their partners who can provide the right mix of cultivation experience, emerging best practices and comprehensive technical support.
“My vision in launching Harbor Farmz last year was to elevate cannabis production in Michigan by establishing efficient growing strategies, taking a fully organic approach, deeply understanding soil chemistry and developing a sophisticated genetic library that we can share cuttings from for years to come,” said Michael Ward, founder and CEO of Harbor Farmz. Harbor Farmz is a Kalamazoo, Michigan-based cannabis cultivator that recently announced its successful implementation of Fluence’s LED lighting solutions in its cultivation facility and tissue culture lab.
“Precision is key,” Ward continued. “We’re continually refining our processes and elemental parameters while integrating advanced technologies like Fluence’s LED lighting into our growing environment. Collaborating with Fluence enables my team to create efficiencies in our cultivation and harvest methodologies to deliver the best medicine that will benefit our customers.”
Ultimately, products don’t show cultivators how to get the most out of their plants and facilities. People do. Products don’t show cultivators how their new LED lighting system affects heat dissipation or surface leaf temperature. People do. Products don’t show cultivators the best lighting strategy for a specific cultivar. People do.
There are still so many amazing insights just waiting to be discovered. It can be daunting for cultivators to think how those discoveries might change the way they operate, design their facilities, deploy their lighting strategies, or grow their plants. But the journey is far from a lonely one.
Fluence is a trusted partner in that journey, dedicating resources to ask and answer the critical questions cultivators have as they compete in crowded markets and move toward more profitable, more sustainable, and more informed cultivation strategies.
For more information about Fluence, visit www.fluence.science.