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CAP with Heliospectra in Spring 2011

Company Description

Founded in 2006, Heliospectra offers a patented lighting system that helps reduce energy consumption by up to 50% in greenhouses while helping to produce crops that look healthier, tastes better, and have a longer shelf-life. Heliospectra’s core competency is their understanding of plants, the process of photosynthesis, and lighting technology. Plants raised in greenhouses only use about 25% of the light energy available to them; the rest is released as heat. Recognizing the need for more efficient energy allocation, Heliospectra seized the opportunity to develop “intelligent lamps” that replace traditional HPS lamps. Whereas the bulbs of HPS lamps contain mercury and need to be replaced every three years, Heliospectra lamps are cleaner, longer lasting and “smarter.” Their lamps contain embedded computers that communicate by internet with a central system to balance the light needs of the plants. This is done via sensors that monitor how much light is being reflected from the plants as opposed to being absorbed.

Student Project Description

Heliospectra tasked the GW MBA students with preparing a market analysis of the U.S. greenhouse supplementary lighting market. The analysis included an identification of where the greenhouse facilities were located throughout the United States, and what crops were being grown using supplemental lighting. The students were also asked to prepare a competitive analysis that positioned Heliospectra’s competencies against those of competing firms present in the U.S. market. In response to these requirements, the MBA students conducted extensive primary and secondary research to provide Heliospectra with an understanding of the value chain of products originating in U.S. greenhouses. They provided details on suppliers, distributors, greenhouse operators, and equipment contractors, including supplemental light specialists. By the end of the semester, the students were able to leverage their research and enhanced understanding of the supplemental lighting industry to develop a thorough market-entry strategy. Within this report, the students listed actionable next steps that Heliospectra could take to enter the United States.

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