[caption id="attachment_40105" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Founder and CEO Kevin Wells with one of LumiGrow's commercial fixtures"][/caption]
NOVATO -- Backed by its first round of venture funding, LumiGrow Inc. relocated from San Francisco's Treasure Island to Novato to further develop its line of specially tuned LED grow lights for food science research and commercial greenhouses.
Since the company's line of bulbs and fixtures first hit the market in December 2008 after two years of prototypes, the six-person company has completed more than 500 installations in the Pacific Northwest, according to Kevin Wells, founder and chief executive officer.
[caption id="attachment_40170" align="alignright" width="300" caption="LumiGrow ES330 commercial fixture"][/caption]
In July, the company received an undisclosed series A sum from Clean Pacific Ventures, whose portfolio also includes SunLink Corp. of San Rafael. The venture firm's chief investment officer, Sean Schickedanz, joined LumiGrow's board.
"That will allow us to expand development and marketing and sales teams then push to market a couple of products we have had in the pipeline," he said.
LumiGrow signed a three-year lease with DeRecat Property LLC for almost 4,000 square feet at 33 Commercial Blvd. in Novato. The company moved in early September and is setting up a testing greenhouse there. He plans to double the number of full-time staff within a year.
[caption id="attachment_40171" align="alignleft" width="448" caption="LumiGrow bulbs at Dow Agrosciences research facility"][/caption]
LumiGrow has patents pending on LED illumination designed, thanks to help from University of California, Davis, and Duke University, to emit only the red and blue light most involved in photosynthesis, rather than wasting energy on full-spectrum light. The results are lower temperatures while consuming half to 80 percent less energy as the high-pressure sodium and metal halide lamps normally used in such operations.
[caption id="attachment_40169" align="alignright" width="448" caption="LumiGrow installation at a Herbco basil greenhouse"][/caption]
The initial cost for the U.S.-made bulbs is high -- $150 for the research-oriented 17-watt bulb to as much as $1,500 for high-powered fixtures. But power savings and long life -- six to 10 years of continual use -- can result in rapid return on investment, according to Mr. Wells. For the research-focused bulb replacement for 80-watt bulbs, the ROI timeframe is less than a year.
The move to Novato from the converted Navy brig on Treasure Island was a lifestyle choice, Mr. Wells said. The North Bay, and Marin County in particular, have many of the elements employees were interested in while being close enough for those living in the East Bay.
LumiGrow sells its bulbs and fixtures directly to institutions and corporate food science centers via the Internet and by drop shipment to more than 40 Internet and gardening resellers nationwide.
Brian Foster and Steven Leonard of Cassidy Turley BT Commercial brokered the LumiGrow lease.
To contact LumiGrow, call 800-514-0487 or visit www.lumigrow.com.