Lighting Futures

‘Philips conservatively expects LED sources to have penetrated 50% of the lighting market by 2015 and estimates a 75% market share by 2020’

John Gorse, Technical Solutions Manager, Philips lighting

Thursday 26 June 2014
Eastern Gateway Building, Brunel University

John kicked off our one day exploration of lighting futures with a commercial and technical overview of the roadmap for developments in the lighting industry. As a major global player in the sector, we think we can safely agree with the Philip’s view of the significant shift towards LED sources over the next 6 years. This presents tremendous opportunities and challenges. The idea of how collaboration between the lighting industry and Brunel University might contribute to tackling this exciting context was the overriding theme of the day. This short event review concludes with a summary of the key points arising from group discussions of these opportunities and challenges.

A further recurring theme of the day was the environmental, carbon reduction imperatives that are a key driver in the lighting field. Ashley Bateson from Hoare Lea was able to provide an authoritative view starting with the predicted 2° average temperature rises predicted between 2000 and 2050. This leads to the UK Government’s policy for zero carbon rated buildings by 2016 (residential) and all other building types by 2019. There is some backtracking and manoeuvring on these policies, but the direction of travel is clear. In the Q&A session Professor Jack Silver (Head of the Wolfson Centre at Brunel) challenged Ashley and the audience to consider products and systems in terms of complete lifecycles and supply chains and not just ‘in-use’ environmental impacts.

Professor ‘PK’, also from the Wolfson Centre demonstrated through his talk of the developments on OLEDs, how Brunel is a technological leader in this field, and indicated how OLED technology will provide a further technological ‘push’ to exciting and environmentally sound future lighting solutions. Inspiration was also provided by Wolfgang Muller from globally renowned architects, Foster and Partners, with a detailed case study of a very large format ceiling lighting panel developed in conjunction with Philips for an, as yet, unrevealed ‘signature’ building.

Following group discussion of the sector challenges and opportunities, event delegates toured the Wolfson Centre facilities, further underlining that Brunel is very much open for business in the lighting sector – Bob Venning, ex Head of Lighting at Arup now Chairman of the Lighting Education Trust had earlier outlined the award winning links between Brunel and the lighting industry. We are very keen to establish more collaborative projects in the sector and the wider benefits of this type of activity were emphasised by recent graduate Charlie Benson who talked about his final year project inspired by his placement year working with Osram. He has subsequently been ‘snapped up’ by GE Lighting.

Group Discussion and identification of factors related to innovation and development in the sector:


  • Speed of change in technological developments (barrier to entry for SMEs)
  • Changes in trends (difficulties/cost of keeping pace with change)
  • Dealing with confidentiality (collaboration and ‘open’ innovation are opportunities, but commercial interests have to be protected)
  • Scales of organisation (eg limits to what SMEs can achieve)
  • Marketing ‘good’ vs ‘poor’ LEDs (differentiating high quality product from low cost competition)
  • Entering the job market – high entry points (Lighting is a highly specialised field) · Funding (for development) · Lack of standardisation (J Gorse outlined some of the developments in this area, but still an issue with the rapid pace of technical development)
  • Testing luminaries (cost/facilities barrier for SMEs)
  • Philips IP approach (seen to restrict SME innovation)
  • Different timescales/time imperatives between industry and academia (perceived to make collaboration difficult)


  • Creating innovative/new products (the event highlighted the tremendous potential – drivers and technology)
  • Developing new business models (lighting is increasingly part of complex systems – the supply chain models may change significantly)
  • Fresh perspectives/collaboration
  • 3D printing (eg lenses)
  • Access to wide range of experience (via Brunel)
  • Introducing Wolfson to students (raising profile of these resources within the University)
  • Supporting industry in specialist areas – eg marketing and communications
  • Initiatives for future proofing/adaptability
  • Developing Industry standards
  • Printing ‘light’ (Wolfson has extensive experience of printing the elements of composite lighting technology – eg OLEDs)
  • Research into human factors and emerging lighting technology (eg airlines, buildings, SAD, use of screens, artificial light in external environments)
  • Enhanced control systems
  • Dynamic/kinaesthetic lighting (enabled by advances in control systems)

Through the combination of the technological and human resources at Brunel with extensive lighting industry links the Co-Innovate initiative is able to support London based SMEs with mentoring and a range of practical support for innovation and new product development. In particular, there are opportunities through to mid September 2014 to establishcollaborative projects with final year design students, many of whom will have completed a year working in the lighting industry.