2017 was characterized by the rapid development of Heliospectra, within our organization as well as in our range of products and services. In addition to this, we also broadened the company’s customer base through an increased focus on companies in the food industry, including herbs and microgreens, and AgTech companies.
The overall vision behind these changes was the continued development of Heliospectra from primarily being a hardware developer to being able to offer complete service solutions in intelligent LED lighting and cultivation optimization.
To do this, we have focused on creating concrete value for our customers in all parts of our offer. We were already good at demonstrating the cost benefits of our LED lights, and now we are also getting increasingly better at offering our appreciated expert knowledge, which is crucial when utilizing our technology in an optimal way.
With Technical Services, a package of services ranging from evaluation of specific plants to increased understanding of the customer’s possibilities to customer specific implementation and education of employees, we have managed to create value for all parties from our expertise. We started offering Technical Services in the beginning of 2018, and we have noticed a great interest from existing as well as new customers.
Our other major focus during the year was HelioCORETM, the world’s first intelligent control system for plant lighting. The system consists of sensors and software that enable growers to forecast quotas, standardize production and increase year-round yields. HelioCORETM was launched in the spring of 2018, and it constitutes the heart of our service offer as we will market the system as a subscription service. It can also be upgraded with additional exciting modules in the future.
We have finally started offering leasing of our LED lights, which minimizes customer start-up costs while also providing us with recurring and stable revenue.
To implement all these improvements, Heliospectra’s organization was sharpened with a more synergistic team structure and more clear distribution of responsibility. At the same time, non-prioritized development projects have been phased out.
The results of this hard and focused work have already begun to show in Heliospectra’s results. Compared to 2016, order inflow increased by 93 percent in 2017, and sales increased by 56 percent. In addition, we increased the gross margin and lowered our operating costs, which together strengthened the company’s operating profit by 23 percent. We are rapidly moving in the right direction.
Strengthened by this success, and with an exciting HelioCORETM launch in 2018, we are looking forward to harvesting the benefits of our new, valuedriven and complete offering to customers. I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved, and we now have excellent opportunities to continue to grow while developing the next generation.