In the horticultural industry, Valoya is well-known for its research-driven approach to horticulture, their focus on light behavior, and how crops respond to that. Since this year, the company has merged with another Finnish LED developer: GreenLux. Valoya is and remains the horticultural brand of the newly formed company. Together, they moved into a new headquarter with a very neat growing chamber, thus enabling them to do even more research and develop more product. Yet, this shiny facility is not the sole story behind the merger. “Brand-wise, we’re on the same page: the Rolls Royces of the industry. It’s the high quality of the components, of the light output that sets us apart”, CEO Mikael Broman explains. “Together, we can move faster and operate more sustainably.”
GreenLux & Valoya
15-ish years ago, in Finland, two companies agreed on the opportunities provided by LED solutions. While Valoya focused on the horticultural industry, GreenLux was helping the Swedish govt find a solution for high electricity consumption and low breakdown rate of the lights in their parking garages. Once this was tackled, they had quite an example to show the quality of their fixtures, Mikael explains. “Our LEDs survived in the harsh conditions provided by Swedish weather. We could reach a better output with only half of the energy consumption, but also offer dimming options and the ability to turn the lights off and on as many times as they wanted without breaking them.” Ever since, also international retailers selected GreenLux as their global supplier for stores, offices, logistic centers, and of course, parking garages. “We’re not the cheapest in the market, nowhere near it, but we bring added value to our clients as they know the importance of efficient lighting solutions: high-quality fixtures, a good color rendering index, a great duration, and low energy consumption.”
This customer-oriented vision characterizes Valoya as well, says Kari Kylä-Kaila, COO of Greenlux, who not only worked with Valoya for seven years but also knew Greenlux as one of their first customers back then. “Valoya has always been driven by research, bringing growers the best potential light solutions. The company has conducted thousands of trials and has a portfolio with over 300 patents with different spectra for greens, vegetables, and leafy greens.” The only figures that needed some attention were the company’s results: to keep the company as sustainable as their growing solutions, improving the profitability was of vital importance.
LBS Capital, the investor behind both companies, saw synergy potentials: by combining management, production, and R&D, both companies should develop faster and more efficiently and improve their profitability. An example of this is the new headquarters of the company, with their very own growth chamber where all spectra tests can be done. But there’s more to it that sets the merged company up for success. “Brand-wise, we’re on the same level, and the reputation is similar as well: not in it for the cheap solutions, we’re more like the Rolls Royces of the industry,” Mikael says. “It’s the high quality of the components, of the light output, what sets us apart. Also, both companies find it important to invest in Finland, have a heart for research and development, and operate internationally – those are important similarities.”
The companies also look to complement each other in terms of markets. Valoya is active in the US market, the only market GreenLux hasn’t entered yet. On the other hand, GreenLux already has production facilities, connections, and a sister company, EH Electronics, in India – a market that’s remarkably interesting for the Vertical Farming industry. “India has a lot of sunlight, but there are many areas where there’s no land available, and plants and produce need to be transported from the countryside to the cities. Our customers see the potential for the fixtures either to grow exotic plants with European seeds, to produce without pesticides, to realize constant yields, or to prolong the days with our techniques. It would be for the high-end market that’s paying a premium price for a locally grown product.”
Earlier this month, the Valoya R&D team visited their trial customer, Puutarha Timo Juntti. They grow in greenhouses cucumbers and tomatoes year-round in the Turku area, Finland. At trial with Valoya, this greenhouse has two different spectra: Solray385 and S2.
And there’s more. “Valoya has been focusing mainly on closed environments and research centers,” says Kari. “Since the merger, we’re also focusing on greenhouse segments: we’re developing new products and other solutions as sensors and control systems, which will be beneficial for the growers as well.”
The vertical farming space is going through rough times currently, but the Valoya team sees it as part of the maturing of the market. “The industry is looking for its place and ways to develop, following different kinds of approaches. AI, human labor, it will take some time before VF finds the right kind of solution and profitability, but we believe it will.” It confirms the focus of Valoya: creating stable solutions for the long term, and their quality solutions can truly help the market. This is also why the shaken cannabis market did not affect them much. “Our approach in cannabis is also more based on the research side, which is how we built a solid customer base. The US market is struggling at the moment, but the boom and the volatility of the market affected us very little because we’re in the medical market mainly, selling to medical producers and researchers with partners such as Conviron. There still is a need for good solutions that keep the yield and quality consistent.”