Korrus is the company that owns Ecosense, Soraa, Scuva, Tempo Industries, and now Circadian ZircLight. They focus on “Human Light Interaction (HLI),” which they define as seeking to understand human interactions with light, and creating technologies that better serve the needs of those humans. I interviewed Mark Reynosa, CEO of Korrus, about their recent acquisition of Circadian ZircLight, and where Korrus is going from here.
Shiller: Congratulations, first off, on the acquisition of Circadian ZircLight.
Reynosa: Thank you so much.
Shiller: I was curious whether the acquisition would impact the partnerships that Circadian ZircLight currently has, providing light engines to partners like Acuity, H.E. Williams, and presumably others? Will the OEM engine play still be a focus for Circadian ZircLight?
Reynosa: Yes. We have no intention to interrupt any preexisting agreements and relationships between ZircLight and other participants in the industry. Quite the opposite. The entire thesis around our acquisition has been it supports our mission and the thesis is about enabling and creating greater awareness around solutions that deal with some of the ill effects of artificial light in the world, today.
Shiller: You mentioned the ill effects of artificial light. Most of the circadian lighting manufacturers leading the space have focused on what I consider a high cyan / low cyan, 2-channel approach. That’s been the dominant approach by multiple players. I’m curious if you envision circadian lighting moving beyond this 2-channel approach, to more sophisticated levels of spectral tuning?
Reynosa: We’ve been working really hard for quite a long time to really understand, at the physiological level, what actually works well in terms of understanding spectral energy. The kind of light that naturally occurs from morning till evening, and then asking ourselves, to what degree can we accurately replicate that spectral energy, to effectively entrain one’s circadian system. Through a tremendous amount of work, and years of research, we believe we have a technology platform that actually delivers on that promise. And you’ll begin to see our dynamic offering in that regard, begin to enter the marketplace next year. We believe it is materially differentiated from anything you’ve seen in the world, heretofore.
Shiller: So you’re saying that there are different approaches coming, beyond this 2-channel, high cyan / low cyan approach? Do you agree that something more sophisticated is coming, without asking you to give it away?
Reynosa: Yes. It’s been a very clear focus of ours. All through the organic work that we’ve done, and then through the acquisition of Soraa, and now with ZircLight, we have almost 500 patents in the intersections of humans and light, many of which have to do with one’s physiology, biology, and how it interacts with one’s circadian system and the natural environment. We don’t believe there is anything in the marketplace today that accurately reflects what occurs in nature. We think what we are building towards is quite likely a step function change from what is available today.
Shiller: Sounds exciting. You mentioned the Soraa asset acquisition in 2020. There was also the Lumium acquisition in 2019, the Tempo Industries acquisition earlier this year, and now Circadian ZircLight. Do you foresee Korrus acquisitions continuing at this pace?
Reynosa: We don’t really have a time-based acquisition strategy. Our business model and strategy have been pretty clear for the better part of almost a decade now. Sometimes there are opportunities that allow us to scale our vision more quickly. And in those instances, if we see that opportunity, we will take advantage of that through an acquisition. Otherwise, like Scuva, we’ll just build it internally. In fact, you’ll see an announcement coming shortly from us whereby we are partnering in the marketplace with an entity to help us increase the speed with which certain life-based technologies can be delivered to the marketplace, to increase human health and well-being, literally. You’ll see that announced in a number of days or weeks.
We build it internally, we acquire something externally, or we partner with someone. We’re very agnostic about the pathway through which we execute. The key for us is that we see it as a tremendous opportunity to get critical technology out to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people. We just focus on the ways in which we think we can do that best.
Shiller: The Lumium Lighting brand was turned into a product line under Ecosense, but Soraa and Tempo remained separate brands. Will Circadian ZircLight remain a separate brand or be consolidated like Lumium?
Reynosa: The distinctions between how we operate a particular brand varies depending on where we think the best way to maximize against our vision is. We haven’t completely determined the right way to optimize the ZircLight platform, because it is a just announced acquisition. Part of what we do is go out to the existing marketplace partners and ask them how do they feel we can best support them in their efforts with our technologies and solutions. We take that input into account in how we think about an execution perspective.
Shiller: With this Circadian ZircLight acquisition, Korrus is very well positioned and represented in the circadian and GUV aspects of light & health. I’m curious if you envision Korrus moving into other areas of active research for light & health, such as migraines, depression and other non-circadian light therapies?
Reynosa: Yes, this may be is a good point to clarify the mission that we are on. The way that we describe ourselves is that we’re pioneering a new industry called Human Light Interaction. As the name implies, what we want to understand deeply is all of the ways in which humans and light behave together, and how we might be able to provide or create technologies that enhance those interactions. That could be in the in the realm of diseases and illnesses. It could have to do with antiviral properties and material properties. Germicidal things that have to do with the lived environment and to optimize that from a physiological perspective. So we see our mandate as extremely wide, and we don’t even use the word “lighting” to describe the business. We use the word “light.” If you just pause for a second and just think about that, the distinction is quite different. In fact, we had part of our business development team at Display Week, this week in San Jose, showing our technology and our display applications. So televisions, monitors, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. When we think about the problems being encountered in modern society and the application layers of modern society, we see our mandate and vision really speaking to that entire opportunity set. The next logical question is that’s a gigantic market and opportunity set. So we try to be very disciplined in the specific areas that we want to target. But in terms of research abilities, we have a deep science and engineering team, exploring a very wide cross-section of modern dynamics and how we might participate in helping better the world through specific applications.
We have a culture of curiosity and exploration. If one of our scientists or engineers come upon something in the literature that they think is interesting, we give them the opportunity to go explore and understand that more deeply. It could be depression, Alzheimer’s, sleep, or performance, like an athlete. It is extremely wide.
Shiller: I personally see those non-circadian light therapies, for things like migraines, depression, etc. as potentially becoming much bigger business than circadian lighting, over the medium term, because it’s so debilitating, and it’s a bigger quality of life issue. Do you see those areas becoming big business or is it just too soon to tell?
Reynosa: Take a step even further out. I think the intersection of digital technologies, health, and wellness, which has even removed the word light, for a second. I think in the next 30 to 50 years, you’re going to see an ocean of new categories, industries, products, applications, and experiences at that intersection. At one level, Korrus is just a small microcosm of a gigantic wave coming from that direction, at that intersection. To your point, it is an overwhelmingly large opportunities, because since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve pretty materially divorced ourselves from the natural environment. Modernity brought in a lot of really wonderful things, but with that we brought on certain drawbacks and certain compromises that we think we can create a better balance with. We see our mission as elevating people’s understanding of their light diet, much in the same way they think about food, air and water. It’s literally that fundamental. And in the last 50 years, you’ve seen real revolutions, frankly, in all three of those, where we believe light to be extremely misunderstood. And part of that is because 80% of everything that we know about human health and light has only been discovered in the last 20 years. The science is only now catching up with the truth and reality of the situation We’re trying to be at the forefront of that to help bring awareness and evangelize ways in which we can solve some of those modern ill effects, from divorcing ourselves from nature.
Shiller: We have been talking about human light interaction. Do you anticipate Korrus moving beyond human light interaction to other biological lighting, such as horticultural lighting or livestock and poultry lighting, that are non-human, but still biological.
Reynosa That’s a good question. Probably every three to six months, we get an inbound request, whether it’s from somebody in industry or academia, who is interested in exploring some of those intersections with our technology capabilities. After some explorations in that space, we’ve concluded that the intersections of humans and light is already overwhelmingly large. Opening the aperture up even larger, right now, would be a real distraction.
Shiller: Is there anything else that you’d like our reader to know about Korrus?
Reynosa: Thank you for that. I’d encourage people to go to Korrus.com to learn a little bit more about the market and the industry that we’re pioneering. There are a couple of videos. One that discusses human interaction with light and our mission. There’s a second video, under our science page, specifically on the intersection of humans and circadian health and well-being.
Shiller: Thank you for sharing your insights, Mark.