Communicating about innovation

Technology and legislation drive innovation in lighting, but communicating information about innovation can be as important as the innovation itself, says Rune Marki

Innovation is constantly driving good lighting, whether we’re talking about technology, products, lighting design or other aspects.

Ever since the first electric light bulb (which itself was an innovation compared with gas and other types of lighting), there has continued to be innovation in light sources, driven by significant investment in research and development by manufacturers and others.

This has led from incandescent technology into fluorescent, HID, halogen, induction, plasma and in more recent times solid state LED and OLED lighting.

This has been matched by parallel innovations in luminaire and optics design, electronic lamp gear and – very much to the fore today – the development of electronic lighting control systems that facilitate good, but also efficient, lighting designs and installations.

In such a constantly and rapidly developing market it is essential to communicate about innovations. Partly to ensure the market is aware of the innovation and its benefits, but also to ensure the market is aware of how best to use the innovation and to keep expectations realistic.

One of the key means of communicating is through trade exhibitions. The bi-annual Light + Building exhibition takes place in Frankfurt from 15-20 April. It is probably the largest lighting and intelligent buildings trade exhibition in the world, attracting international visitors and exhibitors. It’s an opportunity to really wow visitors with new lighting ideas and technologies.

The main theme of Light+Building 2012 is energy efficiency, a subject we are all very familiar with. Focal points will include the digitisation of light and buildings, and buildings as green power stations.

British visitors are always well represented, so it’s an ideal opportunity to catch up with the latest innovations and developments, and to meet people.

So I look forward to seeing you there.

I appreciate not everyone is available to attend Frankfurt, so the UK LuxLive exhibition at Earls Court in November 2012 presents a more local and UK-specific opportunity for users to visit and see the latest innovations.

Innovation is also driven by regulation, which reflects government priorities. One of the major drivers, as we are all aware, is improving energy efficiency to reduce damage to our environment through climate change.

From a commercial perspective, improved energy efficiency also leads to a reduction in energy costs for users and therefore regulation, insofar as it speeds up innovation in the area of efficiency, is beneficial.

Regulations expected in the near future are proposals from the European Commission to phase out the least efficient directional light sources over time, and from the UK government in the form of its 2013 review of the Building Regulations.

I’m sure there will be more detailed articles on both of these elsewhere in this edition of Lux, so I will not give my opinion, but it is important for the industry to ensure good communication about innovation stimulated by regulatory change as well as technology-driven change arising from research and developent.

At present both of the regulatory changes I’ve mentioned are only in draft form and, through consultation, views are being sought from all interested parties.

An effective way for individual organisations to respond to draft regulations is through membership of their professional body or trade association.

One of the key roles of the LIA as a trade association for lighting manufacturers is to gather and consolidate input from its members so it can respond to these consultations, in effect being the voice of its members. Once the regulations are finalised and come into force, effective communications become essential to provide clear information to the market about the resulting changes and their impacts.

Innovation, whether it’s driven by technology and research, or by regulation, is an integral part of all markets, perhaps more so in lighting than in many others, but effective communication about innovation is in many respects as important as the innovation itself.

Enjoy Light + Building at Frankfurt in April if you are visiting, and I certainly look forward to seeing you at LuxLive at Earls Court in November.

Rune Marki, managing director, Osram UK and president, Lighting Industry Association

A glimpse into the future of lighting

In his swan song as LIF president, Mike Collett looks back over the past year and ponders how the federation is preparing for the challenges and opportunities of the future

Running to stand still

The increasing pace of developments in the lighting sector means it is more important than ever to keep up to date – and the sector’s trade associations can help