Sun-shifting startup LLEAF opens vast new Sydney laboratory

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Sydney-based AgTech startup LLEAF on Monday opened its first solar laboratory in Sydney to expand its product offerings, capping an 18 month period that included government backing, its first product, and a multi-million dollar seed round.

LLEAF (luminescent light emitting agricultural film) specialises in the development of light spectrum shifting dyes to create colour conversion films. The films are used in greenhouses, and effectively behave as an additional light to help plants produce cellular energy.

The technology allows crops to be grown in challenging environments, and improves yields by up to 20 per cent, the company said.

LLEAF’s new Mona Vale solar lab

The new facility at Mona Vale includes isolated chambers with high temperature plasma lamps used as artificial suns, which enables the testing of real-world conditions on its technology, and to deliver forecasts to yields for customers.

“These lamps produce an almost perfect simulation of sunlight and being controlled by the computer we can program the sunrise and sunset to simulate real world conditions in the lab” LLEAF chief operating officer Chris Wilkins said.

The company marked the opening of its new facility with an event attended by the local mayor, state and federal MPs and New South Wales chief scientist Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte.

“LLEAF’s ‘sunlight engineering’ is really great technology that will have an impact in both agriculture and solar energy. We are very proud that the NSW Physical Sciences Fund was able to assist LLEAF in establishing their commercial products,” Professor Durrant White said.

The company landed backing from the state fund in late 2021, allowing it to develop its first commercial product in January last year. It went on to raise $3.5 million from climate tech investors, the University of NSW – where its technology began – and deep tech incubator Cicada Innovations.

LLEAF was also a finalist in last year’s InnovationAus Awards for Excellence, in recognition of its journey and potential as a cutting edge Australian company.

LLEAF opened a new facility in Sydney on Monday to mimic real world conditions

The company is pushing into scientific measurement and inquiry, with the new facility to also test various connected devices.

“Our community should be proud of the ground-breaking, technical products being produced that can pave a way forward in agricultural production,” Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins said.

“[I] can’t wait to see how this product is used as agricultural industries discover its benefits.”

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