Osram’s venture capital arm, Fluxunit, has acquired a stake in Canadian startup Motorleaf, an artificial intelligence company focused on bringing actionable, data-driven insights to greenhouse and indoor farm operators. Motorleaf’s hardware and software support strengthen the human and environmental aspects of greenhouse production, helping to predict accurate harvest amounts in a tight-margin industry. By providing a digital agronomist, Motorleaf’s yield prediction tools help greenhouse operators meet contract obligations, better plan weekly operations and forecast production capacities in real time. “We see strong potential in leveraging advanced data analytics to further optimize predictability and performance of production in commercial greenhouse and indoor farm production,” said Ulrich Eisele, Managing Director of Osram’s Fluxunit.
For horticultural applications, Osram already supplies specially developed lighting solutions designed for cultivating plants in greenhouses or indoor farms that stimulate and manage plant growth. Adjusting light in the context of overall environmental growing conditions to the specific needs and characteristics of a plant has a strong impact on actual yield and quality of the plants produced. Motorleaf’s solution adds smart harvest forecasts based on artificial intelligence.
In initial trials with California greenhouse SunSelect, Motorleaf’s technology led to a 50 percent reduction in yield prediction error in tomatoes. These results were enough for SunSelect to adopt Motorleaf’s algorithms after a short trial. However, yield prediction is just the first step in Motorleaf’s solutions for producers. “Better yield prediction is only the beginning for Motorleaf’s value to this sector,” says Motorleaf CEO Alastair Monk. “We’re ultimately producing dynamic grower protocols, which help manage everything from light and nutrients to predicting crop diseases before they happen and optimized growing conditions that increase ROI – all based on real-time data.”
In this seed financing round, Fluxunit, along with financial investors Radicle Growth, Desjardins Capital, Real Ventures, BDC Capital and 500 Startups Canada invested $2.85 million USD in Motorleaf.
Osram recently expanded its horticulture portfolio with the acquisition of US specialty luminaire supplier Fluence Bioingeneering. Via its Fluxunit Osram also holds a stake in the horticulture startup Agrilution since 2017. Solutions for plant lighting open up an attractive growth market for the high-tech company Osram. Intelligent lighting plays an increasingly important role in the food supply of rapidly growing mega-cities.