Horticulture is undergoing a high-tech boom, driven by technological advancements, many of which originate from Westland in the Greater Rotterdam-The Hague Area. However, one often overlooked area in terms of technological advancements is greenhouse lighting. Previously, greenhouses predominantly used HPS (High Pressure Sodium Light), many of which have now been retrofitted with LED lights. These lights lack the flexibility that usually accompanies greenhouses such as climate and temperature control, humidity levels, and fertiliser utilisation depending on the plant’s stage of development.
When Louis Golaz, founder of RED Horticulture, visited greenhouses and met with growers, he observed a stark contrast in the flexibility of lighting systems compared to other highly adaptable greenhouse systems. Louis and his co-founder Yassine El Qomri, mechanical and electrical engineers respectively, wanted “to bring intelligence in these systems,” as Louis put it and then led to the creation of the company back in 2018. Louis and Yassine, both passionate engineers, see great honour in being able to feed more people globally. That passion has recently been rewarded with a 17 million Euro Series A investment into RED Horticulture led by ECBF.
Beyond traditional lighting: dynamic luminaires
RED Horticulture provides dynamic and controllable luminaires (light fixtures) for greenhouse growers, allowing them to control both intensity and spectrum. “But we don’t like to be seen as lighting manufacturers, because we’re much more than that,” Louis added. That’s why the software side to their business is so vital. About a year into their business, Nicolas Thibaut, a seasoned cybersecurity entrepreneur, joined RED Horticulture to build the software backbone of their product.
What sets RED Horticulture apart from their competition, who mainly supply on/off LED luminaires or dimmable luminaires, is that RED Horticulture’s work really begins once the lights are installed. RED Horticulture’s solution relies on photobiology, the study of light on living beings. This focus allows them to send plants the right light at the right moment, which can vary from plant to plant. Agricultural engineers and researchers from RED Horticulture’s team work directly with growers so that they can “grow better, grow more profitable, [and] grow higher quality produce,” as Louis shared.
With RED Horticulture’s focus on photobiology they are able to implement scientific solutions that are the result of years of R&D efforts. RED Horticulture helps reduce energy consumption, improve yield management, and increase production quality all through photobiology. This includes up to 38% increase in energy efficiency compared to standard fixed spectrum installations. Louis posed a few questions including, “for strawberries, well, how can I reduce the time of development of a strawberry and have it on the market faster? How can I have a higher brix level? For tomatoes and cucumbers, how can I produce more by consuming less?” Those are all questions that RED Horticulture has answered with their solution and they hope to only add to the use cases as the business grows.
Tapping into the Dutch horticulture ecosystem
RED Horticulture’s business has been expanding rapidly since its inception, with their new office in World Horti Center as their third office and their first internationally. The business was founded in France with their head office in Lyon, which was followed by PARC by RED Horticulture, their research centre in Nantes, France. RED Horticulture currently has around 40 employees, with a focus on a multicultural team and mindset.
Louis emphasised that “it’s about giving the right solution to growers.”
Their three person team based in the Netherlands is planning to quickly grow to a team of eight. RED Horticulture’s staff spans hardware, software, and agronomy, as well as traditional business support roles. Science and research are fundamental to their business proposition, and this is bolstered by one third of their staff today working in agronomy. The main way customers interact with RED Horticulture is through their software, which they want to make as easy and accessible as possible. To get RED Horticulture in as many greenhouses as possible, Louis stressed the need for great sales people who can translate their vision and mission in ways that suit each of their potential customers.
“Sometimes we need to speak plant language, sometimes we need to speak technical language with distributors, installers. Sometimes we need to speak project management language in order to implement and put the project in place,”
– Louis Golaz, founder of RED Horticulture
RED Horticulture chose the Netherlands for their first step in international expansion, recognising it as a global hub for the horticulture industry. Louis sees the Dutch growers as hyper technical and able to validate their value proposition, which can then be rolled out to the entire world.
And what he loves about the ecosystem is that “it’s filled with passionate people and when you talk just five to ten minutes with people within the industry, you understand that they’ve dedicated their life to this industry.” And he believes that “any great idea in the horticulture and hightech business can grasp its roots here in the Netherlands.”
RED Horticulture has been able to tap into local networks and gain access to expertise thanks to the help from the regional economic development agency, InnovationQuarter, who they were introduced to by Business France. Louis suggests that businesses looking to expand abroad should make use of local government branches who can provide introductions and potential soft landing options. Although the horticulture industry is fast moving and global, so much is done on the local level and through local ecosystems. The Greater Rotterdam-The Hague area boasts an incredibly well connected and robust network of hightech horticulture experts and businesses.
Envisioning a future of sustainable horticulture
RED Horticulture has been manufacturing their series of luminaires at a high volume . With the help of the newly assembled team in the Netherlands, they hope to scale the business further and continue to develop new strategies for light usage with their product. They are leveraging the Dutch ecosystem by tapping into different knowledge centres to test and showcase their solution. Working with local Zuid-Holland ambassadors for their products such as Vreugdenhil, Noordam Plants, and the WUR, RED Horticulture is on a path for rapid growth. Being the first to propose a scalable and dynamic light solution, RED Horticulture is set to take the industry by storm. Louis hopes that in the future dynamic luminaires will not be talked about, because all luminaires will be dynamic.
RED Horticulture’s innovative approach to dynamic lighting in greenhouses, harnessing the latest in photobiology, marks a significant leap forward in the horticultural industry. Their collaborative efforts with the vibrant ecosystem of the Greater Rotterdam-The Hague Area have catalysed a new era of sustainable and efficient agriculture. Their move to the Netherlands underscores the region’s role as a cradle for hightech horticulture innovation and the bright future for sustainable food and crop production.
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