Every now and then, someone presents the world with a game changer. Sometimes it wows from the start, but more often than not the significance of these innovations can only be seen with hindsight. A small team from Riga may have managed to bridge this gap within the geeky details of LED production, to find themselves standing on the edge of a revolution in lighting.
Allow me to present LED Chemicals from Riga, Latvia. Established at the end of 2013 with a team of five, including one LED specialist with 20 years experience, a phosphor specialist with over 10 years in the industry and Aleksandrs Belskis, CEO whom I met at Seed Forum, Tallinn.
Belskis makes the observation at our meeting in the Swedbank Estonia HQ that, “one of the largest banks in Estonia still doesn't have LED lighting.” He claimed that it’s due to pricing and the application of current technology:
“The quality of LED lighting for indoor applications is too low, our product is a unique LED component, remote LED phosphor, which can solve this problem.”
Phosphor is key to LED Chemicals breakthrough, it’s a yellow substance that sits over the crystal emitting a bright blue light, changing the light white. Current LED production places a liquid drop of phosphor right on top of the blue crystal. LED Chemicals uses a solid phosphor plate placed above it, but not touching it.
“Our solution gives us such benefits as we can improve energy efficiency, enabling a better control of the light output. We improve the lifetime, now 20 years, but we can add about 14 more years. We dramatically decrease production costs and production defects, because less phosphor is needed in an LED Chemicals product, the production costs are seriously reduced.”
Acknowledging the competitors, Belskis says their solution’s USP is that it can be used on chips and in lamps. With the main advantages being its ability to operate at a much higher temperature. Strengthening their case, the British patent office has concluded that their solution is unique. Samples sent to prospective buyers has had an encouraging reaction too, with industry specialists showing excitement at the ‘promising developments’ shown for the lighting industry.
The phosphor market is worth 1billion USD, with 14 LED manufacturers taking a third of the market at around 300 million. “This is where we are aiming to break-in,” says Belskis.
They are now planning to start production, with the first sales in 2017, working with one customer, and reach a break even point. In 2018 they hope to have 3 customers, and are looking to attract attention from the likes of Osram, GE and Phillips for the future.
So far they have received 200,000 EUR and need a further 300,000. Money received to this date has been spent mainly on R&D and freedom to operate. Part of this figure raised was received as a grant of 140,000 from the Latvian Development Agency.
They now wish to attract more money for the building of a production facility in Riga.