News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on December 11, 2009

Keynote Address:

2020 Vision: Venture Investment
Opportunities for the Next Ten Years
David N. Elien
President & CEO,
GE Lumination

A new generation of more-efficient, solid-state lighting devices is quietly making inroads into all sorts of enterprise-wide lighting applications, and much of the activity will be headquartered in a region rich in its own lighting history—Northeast Ohio.

"Up until the last two years, the LED revolution has been kind of a quiet revolution," GE Lumination's president, David Elien, told attendees of OVA's December luncheon. But with LED (short for light-emitting diode) penetration into laptop computers now at about 50% and the industry getting ever closer to developing feasible LED light bulbs for residential applications, the technology is receiving increasing attention in the media and elsewhere, he said.

GE Lumination, a division of GE established in 1999 but retrofitted with its current name in 2007, is headquartered in Valley View. But Elien said much of the activity will be moving to Nela Park, America's first corporate research park and for decades the nerve center of R&D for GE's global lighting efforts.

Much of GE Lumination's product design will be executed from this region, with some parts sourcing from Ohio, he explained. The company draws on the global research and contract manufacturing resources of GE. But all of the assembly is done overseas, through a partnership with Nichia, which gives the company vertical integration. "They're basically the Intel to our Apple," he said.

Despite the economic downturn, GE Lumination has wide-ranging opportunities. It has a five-year contract with the city of Los Angeles to replace all its outdoor municipal lighting, and it has outfitted about 3,500 Wal-Mart stores with LEDs.

While those and other market trends are quite promising, Elien hastened to note that there's still much work to be done. Consumer light bulbs are perhaps highest on that list: they currently cost about $80 a bulb, and while their longer life represents savings in the long run, he said the company is working with government entities and utilities on rebates and other programs that will help reduce consumer sticker shock. Nevertheless, he observed, the change to LEDs in the residential market will happen. "Consumers don't understand that the incandescent bulb is basically going to be legislated out of existence in the next decade."

Elien said he expects his company's next big growth wave will come from the combination of successful penetration in outdoor lighting applications and the billions of dollars in stimulus funding now being poured into new roadways, much of which will be lit by LEDs.

Webcasts from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.

Webcast produced by Mike Sutyak, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative.

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