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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Arborlight: Daylight on Demand


Research discoveries from the University of Michigan (U-M) advancing the use of LEDs to replace traditional lighting technology led to the creation of Arborlight, a U-M startup launched in 2013. With a vision to “Enhance the human experience in the built environment”, its first product, LightWell, is an LED-based Wi-Fi controlled Daylight Emulation® product that looks, acts and feels just like a traditional skylight.

LightWell is tuned to geographic and time conditions, suited for high impact spaces that cannot access natural daylight, with the spectral quality, dynamics, and real time expression of the daylight experience, yet tunable to user preferences.

Michael Forbis, Arborlight CEO, and his partner Jon Mapel, Arborlight CTO, joined in October 2011 to develop Arborlight’s unique technology concept and business model. Michael worked with U-M’s Venture Center to raise capital, develop the business model and identify target markets.

arborlightInstall“Working with U-M Innovation Partnerships enabled access to early gap capital, critical technology development funds that are not typically available through investors,” Michael explained. “Those funds helped Arborlight develop and generate revenue early on.”

Innovation Partnerships’s Mentors in Residence have played an important role providing input on Arborlight’s business model, refining the investment pitch, assisting with customer identification, facilitating partnership opportunities, and making investor introductions. To date, Arborlight has raised over $1.7 million from angel investors, its most recent round led by the Michigan Angel Fund.

In the coming year, Arborlight is focused growing its already strong revenue trajectory, expanding production capacity, adding more personnel, releasing more products, and eventually raising more growth capital as it expands across the US and abroad. With the market potential driven by the advantages of LED lighting and their unique product offerings, the future for Arborlight looks bright.