June 26, 2017 / 2:46 PM / a month ago

Seoul Semi says new 'Sun-like' LEDs could generate $400 million in sales by 2021

Chung H. Lee, CEO of Seoul Semiconductor, addresses the media during a presentation of their new "SunLike" product featuring the new TRI-R LED technology in Frankfurt, Germany June 26, 2017.Ralph Orlowski

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Leading LED maker Seoul Semiconductor announced a new technology which it says minimizes the blue-light spike emitted by regular LEDs that is commonly blamed for sleep disturbances and other health problems.

The South Korean company said on Monday that the technology, developed in partnership with Toshiba Materials, would produce light more similar to the Sun's rays, capturing customers put off by the current quality of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

LED makers, having cut costs to the bone, are now racing to improve the quality of the energy-efficient lighting as many consumers and organizations still favor the warmer quality of incandescent lightbulbs in regions where they are not banned.

Seoul Semi's chief executive and founder told Reuters he foresaw sales of the new "Sun-like" LEDs at around $400 million by 2021, contributing to a target of $3 billion in total sales for the company by then, up from $840 million last year.

The picture shows an opened 'SunLike' lamp, featuring the new TRI-R LED technology, during a product presentation of the South-Korean LED manufacturer Seoul Semiconductor in Frankfurt, Germany June 26, 2017.Ralph Orlowski

"It looks like natural light, to fit human biorhythms," Chung Lee said in an interview ahead of the launch of the new LEDs in Frankfurt, adding that some sales would be substitutes for existing LEDs but the technology should also create new demand.

The company, which spends heavily on research and development to differentiate itself from rivals in an increasingly commoditized industry, aims to become the world's top LED maker by 2021, up from fifth place in 2015. The global market for packaged LED sales totaled more than $16 billion last year, according to IHS Markit's LED intelligence unit.

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"Seoul Semi has spent a lot of time and money on innovation and building its patent portfolio. It's trying to be a leader, not a follower," Jamie Fox, principal IHS analyst, said.

Lee said Seoul Semi had had positive feedback from global lighting companies and leading retailers who had tested the product, for which it would initially charge "some tens of percent" more than for regular LEDs.

Seoul Semi competes with market leader Nichia of Japan, Germany's Osram, Dutch Philips' Lumileds and Korea's Samsung.

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Niamh Melvin; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Susan Fenton

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