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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CoeLux VR (Industrialisation of the CoeLux(VR) product line, through upscaling of the nanodispersion production process, and optimisation of the production chain)

CoeLux VR Report Summary

Project ID: 666794

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CoeLux VR (Industrialisation of the CoeLux(VR) product line, through upscaling of the nanodispersion production process, and optimisation of the production chain)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The mission of the CoeLux technology is changing the way we experience the light, by bringing the outdoors indoors. After 12 years of research, CoeLux developed the CoeLux High End, the first commercial product able to reproduce sky and sunlight in an interior space. The result is a warm, direct, sunlight and a surrounding sky light, completely transforming indoor spaces, giving them volume and shape through light and shadow, and which allows creating a new relationship between people and the surrounding architecture. The next step of the company’s growth plan is to bring this pioneering product, which can be produced for a small niche of high-end users, to the industrial scale, thus satisfying the blossoming demand. The CoeLuxVR innovation project will deliver two new modular systems amenable to large scale production. This will be achieved through 4 developmental stages: 1. The upscaling of the nanomaterial diffusing panel, which represents one of the company’s key and proprietary technology. 2. The design and optimization of a compact optical system, enable to substantially reduce the overall thickness of the CoeLux products. 3 Engineering, industrial design and packaging, which focuses around the customers’ perception of the product, as well as its industrial manufacturing process. 4. Finally, the overarching ambition is to set-up the production supply chain, inspired by lean manufacturing principles, organizing the sourcing of the semi-finished products from the selected suppliers, and the internal production logistics in a standardized manufacturing plan, in view of the high-end positioning of the product. The project results will allow CoeLux to ramp-up its operational capacity, also increasing the company’s preparedness to the global market through core assets as product certification, trademark, and IP protection, thus reaping the benefit of this revolutionary technology.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

First of all, a marketing requirements analysis has been carried out, by involving potential customers, architects, lighting experts and other relevant stakeholders. This enabled CoeLux to collect, evaluate, and prioritize a set of requirements aimed to guide the subsequent design and development work. This way, the technical specifications of the two CoeLux products were defined, as well as possible design alternatives aimed at improving performances and/or reducing production costs. In the meanwhile, the development plan has been complemented by two fundamental monitoring tools, the Risk Management Table and the COGS Table. The first is mostly focused on technical risks that could impact on the development work and the products’ compliance with the requirements; it is particularly important because it helps the technical team focussing on the possible occurrence of problems during the research and development work, and thus figuring out alternative materials, processes and techniques that could minimize the risks. The COGS Table contains the list of components of the products, taking into account the possible design alternatives, and monitors the “should” or actual cost of each component against the target cost “range” defined at the beginning of the project. The Table also lists the identified suppliers, in order to compare the possible alternatives and take into account economies of scales.
From a strictly technical point of view, we focused on designing the optical system of the two products. For what concerns the first product, we developed the optical system in order to meet the market requirements and specifications. This led us to design two possible versions of the product, one with the sun appearance, and the other without the image of the sun.
For what concerns the second product, the activities started by defining the design solutions for eliminating residual performance defects in the current demonstrator and improving the efficiency. These design solutions started to be tested and investigated, enabling us to validate them and starting the production of an industrial scale demonstrator in the second period of the project.
We also defined the NPs to be used for the sky-panel material, as well as the solvents which ensure the best results in stabilizing the NPs and compatibility with the matrix material. We finally provided the required feedback to the product design team with respect to the possible parameters that can be accurately calibrated for changing the optical performances of the sky-panel.
Therefore we made the industrial design of the products. Starting from the design requirements, and the optical system design alternatives defined, we designed the overall products, also from a functional and aesthetics perspective. We also made some preliminary research regarding the compliance of the product and its components, as well as the production processes, with the CE and UL certifications.
We finally put in place an IPR protection strategy, by filing patent applications, which we consider strategic for the freedom-to-operate and IPR safeguard.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The project main objective is to design, manufacture, and commercialize two new products which are expected to enable CoeLux to address the worldwide market at large, and doing it well before any competitor will be. In particular, the first product is intended to enlarge the customer base, thanks to the reduced size with respect to the High End products, and to its linear shape that perfectly suits specific applications, like offices, passageways, and the like. The second product is the natural evolution of the CoeLux technology, which will ensure a sky-sun illumination and visual appearance as close as possible to current CoeLux High End products, but without the limitation due to the huge volume currently necessary. This will open up applications which are currently hindered by the overall size of the products, especially in sectors like transport, real estate, etc. Thank to its high flexibility the product can also be customized by arranging various modules in the desired shape or even to create a full-sky effect. Thanks to these products, the CoeLux will pursue its positioning strategy based on the following distinctive product values:
1. Uniqueness, which enriches the aesthetic attributes of the product with a solution that goes beyond simple design. Like the brilliant design masterpieces of other competing solutions, CoeLuxVR literally touches the users, but more importantly, it makes them interact with light, capturing and entertaining them.
2. Convergence: the latest trends in high-end lighting design focus on the convergence between the functional and aesthetic attributes of the product, which very often challenges the designers with difficult trade-offs. CoeLuxVR decorative function is surely the first tangible attribute, but the product is really thought to shine a light that is definitely “usable”, putting the users in a more comfortable, relaxing, and productive environment.
3. Value Creation: green, sustainable and people centric building design and construction approaches are now gradually gaining momentum, as well as internationally recognised certification processes and standards, as the LEED Certification from the Green Building Council, and the BREEAM in the UK. Very strict requirements in terms of interior comfort are currently requested in order for building to obtain a certification (which in the case of LEED can be Basic, Silver, Gold, or Platinum), or to progress to the next grade, which of course implies an increase of the building value. Differently to other competitors, CoeLuxVR is already deemed to contribute to the certification of buildings with few or no access to direct light, and the company is already in discussion with such certification bodies to validate such use of the technology.
The synthesis of these three values is poised to demonstrate direct and indirect gains for customers, deriving from change of consumer behaviour, staff motivation, concentration, improved wellness, and a general thrill of positive energy given by such new experience.
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