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LUMICA: Illuminating Innovation

Article - May 31, 2024

LUMICA has redefined the use of chemiluminescence, expanding into novel products and markets while emphasizing sustainability and innovative technology in a rapidly evolving industry.


Founded over fifty years ago with a vision to revolutionize night fishing, Japanese manufacturing company LUMICA has carved out a niche in the realm of chemiluminescence. This technology, which involves a chemical reaction emitting cold light without heat, first found practical applications in the 1970s. From mini light sticks on fishing floats to novelty items like glowing earrings and bracelets, LUMICA’s journey has been marked by both innovation and resilience.

Shiro Harada, Chairman of LUMICA, reflects on the company's inception: “We started our company with the goal of bringing a night fishing revolution to the world of fishing by making the top of fishing floats glow with chemiluminescence. That small light traveled along the coastline and spread around the world in an instant.”

Despite facing significant challenges in the early '90s with the expiration of key patents and the rise of LED technology, LUMICA adapted swiftly. The company developed light sticks that glowed more intensely than LEDs, albeit briefly, which rejuvenated the market for chemiluminescent products. Aligning with the U.N. sustainable development goals (SDGs), LUMICA also pioneered recycled glow sticks, reaffirming its market presence as the leader in the Japanese chemiluminescence industry.

However, the application of LUMICA’s core technology extends beyond novelty items. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the company innovated with a chlorine dioxide (ClO2) gas generation kit. This product transitioned from chemiluminescent light sticks to a new utility, significantly boosting sales and sustaining the company's production line. “Instead of emitting chemiluminescence light from a stick, we developed a stick that slowly releases ClO2 gas, saving the production line at our factory,” Mr. Harada explains.

Beyond its traditional offerings, LUMICA is exploring groundbreaking applications of chemiluminescence in medicine and disaster preparedness.

The evolution of the chemiluminescent market is likely to see significant advancements. “Photoimmunotherapy is expected to be used in the eradication of cancer, a long-cherished wish of mankind. I hope that researchers will apply chemiluminescence as a light source for this purpose,” Mr. Harada envisions.

Addressing the broader macroeconomic landscape, Mr. Harada discusses the strategic advantages Japanese companies like LUMICA possess, particularly in terms of reliability, advanced technology, and quality control. With policies like the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act encouraging diversification of supply chains, Japanese firms are well-positioned to expand their global market shares. “Japan still has a competitive edge in R&D, design, and quality control...we believe it is necessary to join hands with overseas partners to meet price competition effectively,” he remarks.

As LUMICA continues to innovate and expand its product range, it remains committed to exploring new markets and applications for chemiluminescence. Mr. Harada adds: “Whether through enhancing global healthcare or innovating within the entertainment and emergency sectors, I hope that future entrepreneurs will create profitable businesses while keeping focus on public benefit.”