German firm Osram’s venture capital business, Fluxunit, has acquired a stake in Canadian startup Motorleaf. Motorleaf leverages artificial intelligence to derive actionable, data-driven insights for indoor farm and greenhouse operators. Motorleaf’s hardware and software assist and bolster the human and environmental factors of greenhouse production, helping to predict actual harvest yields in a narrow-margin industry. With a digital agronomist, Motorleaf’s yield prediction tools enhance weekly greenhouse planning and forecast potential crop yield in real time as well as helping growers meet contract obligations.
“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 for cultivating plants in greenhouses or indoor farms that stimulate and manage plant growth. Adjusting light output and spectrum in to meet the specific needs of a plant as part of an overall growth strategy has a substantial influence on actual yield and quality of the plants produced. Motorleaf’s solution uses artificial intelligence to make smart harvest forecasts.
In Tomatoes Motorleaf Technology Reduced Yield Prediction Error 50%
In first trials with California greenhouse SunSelect, using Motorleaf’s technology resulted in a 50 percent reduction in yield prediction error in tomatoes. The results were good enough for SunSelect to use Motorleaf’s algorithms after a short trial. However, yield prediction is just the initial step in Motorleaf’s solutions for plant production. Controlling the grow lights is just one aspect of the overall growth environment which the system will be able to monitor, analyze, and adjust in real-time.
“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 the seed financing round, Fluxunit, along with financial investors BDC Capital, Desjardins Capital, Radicle Growth, Real Ventures, and 500 Startups Canada invested $2.85 million in Motorleaf.
Osram recently grew its horticulture portfolio with the purchase of US-based specialty luminaire supplier Fluence Bioengineering. In addition to the Motorleaf investment, Osram bought a stake in horticultural lighting startup Agrilution via Fluxunit in 2017.