“We’ve seen a demand from growers that want high PPFD levels, the ability to change the spectrum, be able to control everything, and receive feedback on the spectrum being used,” says Andrew Littler, chief executive officer and founder of UK-based horticultural lighting company, Vertically Urban.
Vertically Urban designs and manufactures toplighting, interlighting, and close-range lighting solutions for greenhouses and vertical farms alike. For example, the company’s Odyssey 600 is a high-power LED toplight designed for mid-to high-bay greenhouses for cannabis, vine crops, soft fruit, and more.
Similarly, the Odyssey 200 toplights offer slightly less power and are designed for mid-height greenhouses and indoor farms. For interlighting, Vertically Urban designed the Odyssey 100. Next down the line is Horti-Blade, a low-profile LED designed for vertical farming and integration into racking systems.
“The Horti-Blade is very efficient, especially when we consider kilograms produced per mol of lights. It is very competitive and we are always working to further optimize it,” explains Andrew.
Research at the company’s core
Plant scientist Phoebe Sutton leads the horticultural research at Vertically Urban, focusing on how to fine-tune horticultural lighting to widen the crop portfolio in controlled environment agriculture and improve the growth and quality of these products.
“We’re looking at the traits that growers want to target, such as taste and color. These traits can be tweaked using different light colors. We’re working with both leafy greens and fruiting varieties,” explains Phoebe.
Vertically Urban is running numerous trials internally, with nine different zones from which the research team collects and analyzes data. The data is being used to assist growers and further develop lighting control systems, software packages, and hardware.
According to Andrew and Phoebe, an emerging trend in the horticultural lighting industry is the request for higher light outputs and multi-spectra lighting. Vertically Urban is working to tackle these trends and provide growers with the most dynamic and efficient lighting solutions.
“We’re seeing a demand for multi-spectra products. We work closely with growers and offer a more tailored solution focusing on efficacy and providing the best spectrum,” explains Andrew.
Expansion starts at home, then planned for Europe and North America
Vertically Urban is currently in contract stages with multiple potential partners, with existing partnerships in North American helping the company push its commercial expansion. As Andrew explains, Vertically Urban has adopted a staged expansion approach to first focus on the UK market, and then expand further into North America, northern Europe, Nordic countries, and eventually into the Middle East.
To demonstrate firsthand the benefits of working with Vertically Urban, the company hosts potential clients and research partners at its facility in Leeds. Vertically Urban is also putting together a demonstration video that will allow people to see the factory, trial lab, and team.
“When people visit us in person or soon virtually, they can see the trial lab, engineers, tech team, and the factory. We offer customized solutions and our transparency is an added advantage,” explains Andrew.