By Laura Fostinone

Nordic and Dutch partnership formalised cementing cleantech business innovation & international cooperation


On 4 February 2020 InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to intensifying the collaboration between the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems in the coming years. The collaboration is focused on supporting Dutch and Nordic companies in entering and accelerating their activities in each other’s markets, either for international collaboration, trade or establishment.

Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter, together with their respective partners, have regularly partnered up to boost collaboration between the Dutch and Nordic cleantech ecosystems over the past year. In 2019 the organisations co-organised the Sustainable Building and Energy Systems Mission to Boston, and were involved the Dutch-Nordic Business Event connected to the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. During these events it became clear that a joint Dutch-Nordic presence helps businesses make more impact when entering a foreign market, but also that there is a lot of interest among entrepreneurs and clusters to increase innovation and business collaboration between Dutch and Nordic cleantech players.

To boost such collaboration, InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia organised the Nordic Business Day on February 4 2020, where Dutch and Nordic entrepreneurs, clusters and governmental organisations exchanged market information and business experiences in the fields of smart & sustainable building, mobility and life sciences and health.  Moreover, they took this event as an opportunity to formalise and commit to a multiyear collaboration to connect the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The goals of this MoU is to set up a multiyear collaboration (2020 – 2022) to connect the Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems in order to

  1. Promote collaboration between The Nordic and Dutch cleantech ecosystems, as well as the various players within them.
  2. Support Dutch and Nordic companies in entering and accelerating their activities in each other’s markets, either for innovation, trade goals or establishment in respective markets.
  3. Investigate possible future collaboration to target other foreign markets.

Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter intend to realise the above in various manners:

  1. Sharing of relevant market information;
  2. Support each other’s network in entering their respective markets. For example by providing introducing companies to potential partners (matchmaking), guiding small groups of entrepreneurs in their respective regions, providing soft-landing services, etc.;
  3. The organisation of various events in the Netherlands and the Nordics each year. These events will either involve bringing over a delegation to each other’s region, or be focussed on informing the ‘home market’ on the opportunities that exist in the other region.
  4. Supporting Dutch and Nordic entrepreneurs in jointly entering foreign markets.

What’s coming up in 2020?

As part of their collaboration Cleantech Scandinavia and InnovationQuarter have the intention to contribute to the  following events:

  1. Nordic Business Day, 4th of February. Topics: Sustainable Building, Sustainable Mobility and Life Sciences & Health.
  2. Dutch Sustainable Building Mission to Stockholm from 20 to 24 April (sign up before February 27, click here for more information and registration)
  3. InnovationQuarter visits Energy Capital Day in Lund 12 – 13 May.
  4. Dutch-Nordic Cleantech mission to Boston – to be held in Boston in the autumn of 2020
  5. Dutch/Nordic event at the Smart City expo in Barcelona in November 2020
  6. Participation of Nordic Cleantech delegation at Cleantech Summit in Rotterdam in November 2020

Interested in participating in any of the above events? Or curious to learn more about the collaboration between InnovationQuarter and Cleantech Scandinavia? Contact Anne de Vries from InnovationQuarter or Toby Hörnlein from Cleantech Scandinavia.

Anne de Vries/ Project Manager Internationalisation
+31 6 2254 6065 anne.devries@innovationquarter.nl

Toby Hörnlein /Project Manager & Business Relations
+46 708 56 13 14 / toby@cleantechscandinavia.com

By Tanja Tanskanen

What I learned at Smart City Expo this year –why we kind of need monster trucks and James Bond’s in our cities

It was a sunny, warm summer day in Finland – and I had no clue what is electricity and how can people live without a flush toilet. I was a small girl, when my family took me to my grandfather’s childhood home in the middle of forests and fields. My grandfather’s family used to grow crops and had a few animals, enough to make bread, butter and meat to support the family throughout the year. They lived in a house called ’savupirtti’, which is a log house, with a stone oven for cooking and heating and without a chimney. That was in the 1920’s.

Fastforward 100 years: my grandpa would be amazed today! Houses communicating with energy grids, increasing number of alternative modes of transport available (personally, I have fallen in love with e-bikes), self-driving cars who smile to pedestrians (check Semcon) and live video feeds on Facebook from city’s political decision making and debate meetings (as in the city of Helsinborg).

The idea of smart cities is useful. First, digitizing city services can make the services more efficient and cheaper; a welcomed development when municipalities are struggling to finance their basic services. Second, data insights into the flow of resources to and within cities can help to find ways to cut the use of unnecessary energy and materials; or in other words, improve the resource management in cities. Third, smart cities can give a positive push also for the sustainability agenda – if we develop smart and sustainable cities hand in hand. I was happy to see that this year there was a little bit more focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, climate-neutrality and resilient cities at the expo. In practice that means that now cities need to develop large infrastructure changes and do serious procurement choices to make the transition to a low-carbon society.

I’m positive, but also a bit concerned.

I wish we would focus more on innovation and impact.

According to the UN projections, adults will be the majority of the world’s population (UN World Population Prospects) and 68 % of people in the world will live in cities by 2050 (UN World Urbanization Prospects). That means we need to change the consumption patterns of adults, who are increasingly living in cities and levelling up to the middle-class. The social impact of levelling up in income can be high – but we need increase resource efficiency and decouple the societal change from the negative climate impact.

IPCC summary for urban policy makers has estimated that to achieve a 1.5°C-consistent pathway, we need to reduce the emissions from the global building stock by 80-90 % in comparison to the emission level in 2010, reduce the final energy use by the transport sector by 30 %, and increase energy supply from renewables by 70-85 %, all by 2050.

Here are a few of the innovations, reflections and changes in cities I picked up from the expo and from our Nordic delegates that I’m especially curious about – broken into six themes, which I think can have the largest impact in making cities smart and sustainable:

  • Energy. Stavanger upgraded their energy plant to run 100 % with renewable energy, reducing the CO2 emissions by whopping 88 %! In Umeå municipality, there is a surprising collaboration between an energy company and their customers: the energy company is working together with the customers to help lower their costs – in other words, the company is decreasing their own profit. Carina Aschan is doing wonders facilitating this smart business model for 100 % renewable energy.
  • Housing. The GrowSmarter project in the City of Stockholm has renovated more than 130,000 m2 of buildings with energy efficient and smart technologies – for example, improving insulation, optimizing ventilation, circulating warm water in loops, as well as using waste heat from datacenters and supermarkets in district heating – resulting to 64 % of energy savings and 70 % of CO2 emission reductions. These are probably one of the reasons why they won the World Smart City Awards at the expo this year.
  • Mobility. I already told that I love e-bikes. 🙂 But as I come from Finland, I understand the challenge that Vantaa Airport City discussed: the challenge of winter-time in the Nordic countries for electric mobility. Good news – Helsinki has opened a bike hotel for 34 000 bikes for commuters to solve the challenge of parking and charging e-bikes. In another roundtable, Narvik was looking for shore power supply and electrification solutions for cargo and cruise ships at their port – hydrogen and lithium-ion batteries (Northvolt) were brought up to develop low-carbon options. Beyond the roundtables, MySMARTLife project in Helsinki is planning to replicate their shared smart charger pilot for buses and municipal maintenance vehicles. But not all solutions are technical, Stockholm reminded; the congestion charge was a success to improve the traffic flow and air quality in the city.
  • Smart bin is not about the sensors. It is about focusing on the user behavior; tip, paint the waste trucks as monster trucks! Speaks to my inner child at least. It is about identifying, which bin really needs a sensor (location, location, location…), how to use the data to optimize emptying times and other logistics, and what are the political decision around connectivity and data ownership. The smart waste collection challenge was brought up by the city of Reykjavik and presented by ReSource. Some cities are also encouraging citizens for collective cleaning of the streets, like Plokkari in Iceland. They created an app, organized a litter-picking day and rewarded points that can be used on buses. Also the cleanup of seas was discussed: Sotenäs municipality has a tesbed on how to collect waste in the sea.
  • The city of Skellefteå has developed a solution for elderly and their families. They install sensors, which give a pattern of the elderly’s activities at home and sends messages to relatives if there are anomalies in the activities. This service has been copied in another Swedish municipality, Kiruna, and inspired the city of Uppsala to develop a similar solution. Luleå University of Technology, which is behind this development, wishes to share the platform with the rest of the world.
  • There was a lady from the US delegation presenting her ambition to develop the largest platform of water data globally at the Nordic pavilion stage. I think this is a highly important step to take to use our water resources sustainably and maintain the quality. Can anyone remember her name or organization?

(There are of course a lot more things happening, such as 3D property laws addressing drone traffic, as discussed in the Forum Virium Helsinki roundtable, and cross-cutting themes such as citizen engagement.)

I think these solution themes can give us guidance what to focus on when developing smart cities. They focus on the main energy and material flows managed by cities, as well as important, basic needs – your home and health.

We have come a long way from my grandfather’s childhood home and improved our lives tremendously. But we need to find a way to continue to provide solutions for basic needs – without going overboard with our carbon budget.

When developing smart cities, keep your eyes and ears open for impact.

It is not easy to find the livelihood-climate impact balance (if ’balance’ is even the right word). And it is not easy to find the transformational solutions to build sustainable livelihoods and cities. To start with, we need to ask two basic questions when developing smart cities: Are we responding to the real needs of the city and its citizens? Are we reducing our greenhouse gas emissions enough?

One of the best ways to answer to the first question is to ask both subject experts (such as city developers) and local experts (also called as citizens). To the second question, there are also methods to use. You could measure your alignment with the Paris Agreement according to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). Also the global standard, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Procotol, provides a framework for cities for measuring their climate impact. If you don’t want to go that hardcore (yet), try the SDG Impact Assessment developed by Chalmers University of Technology and University of Gothenburg (thank you Peter Carlsson from Sotenäs for this tip).

However, when you bring innovation and procurement into the picture, you need more tools. You need to acknowledge the potential impact the new innovation can bring to the city and its citizens. For this, some ingenious people have started developing forward-looking assessment methodologies – since the 2018 launch of  Mission Innovation Solutions Framework, we have been a Framework Explorer and learned a lot about avoided emissions using this framework to evaluate clean technology startups.

 One more puzzle piece to solve – funding.

Now we still have one big puzzle to solve – funding. Fortunately, the private sector, citizens and banks are developing a wider spectrum of financial instruments for city and community development. Heimen Visser, who is part of an investment company called Primevest Capital Partners, helps Dutch municipalities to adopt smart street light infrastructure by making an investment case – 50 % energy savings by 2030 – and creating a revenue sharing model between the partners and the municipality. Other alternative funding examples came from Ronald Kleverlaan from Utrecht University: in the Eat Local initiative, over 200 citizens joined together to put 2 000 euros each into running their own farm and hiring a farmer. In another example, more than 1 000 local investors co-invested €18,5 million in a windfarm. This doesn’t mean that traditional public sources (e.g., bonds or taxes) would become irrelevant; instead, it means that the funding instruments are becoming more creative, complementary and diverse.

Putting the puzzle together – the role of collaboration and James Bond.

So far we have identified the most impactful solutions, provided incentives and secured funding for them locally. Next we need to help the solutions to scale up where they are needed the most, and do it fast to mitigate climate change – we need internationalization and collaboration.

One Nordic country alone is a small market. One idea to support the startups to grow faster – brought up in the Stockholm roundtable – was to share information between cities regarding their current challenges and large procurements. If one city has a challenge, let’s say on energy storage, and another city is looking for a similar solution, together they could provide a larger market opportunity for companies to work with them. So next step: cross-country collaboration in the Nordic cities to support uptake of innovations.

Talking about innovation, one roundtable participant said: ”You need an actor with a license to do something in a different way, like James Bond, with no plan in the morning. We need cross functional teams, like James Bond has.”

I played with one idea in my mind before the expo this year, an idea that could leverage the Nordic participants knowledge gathering like a cross functional team. We had almost 500 participants in our delegation this year, from city digitalization departments, environment and health administration, academia, funding agencies, national energy agencies and all kinds of startups with different expertise. Imagine – what a massive collective learning opportunity! So although I could not get that far as to set up a joint learning platform, I would love to hear what did everyone else see and learn. I’m also curious to hear what is your idea of meaningful smart city develoment.

Author: Tanja Tanskanen, Project Manager, Nordic Partner at the Smart City Expo 2019

By Tanja Tanskanen

Country Delegation Sweden at SMART CITY EXPO 2019: Solutions for citizens and climate neutral nation

Organised by Cleantech Scandinavia, Smart City Sweden and Vinnova, the Swedish delegation will showcase smart and sustainable solutions for 21 000+ expo visitors and learn what’s happening in leading international cities.

On 19-21 November over 100 Swedish cities and companies will come together at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2019, the world’s leading trade fair for smart cities. The business opportunities and knowledge sharing are further strengthened by joining forces with other Nordic countries under the renowned Nordic Pavilion and its 450+ participants. The city change makers will gain insights into solutions for climate neutrality and citizen engagement. Companies will find opportunities to meet international clients, establish cooperation and find solutions for digitalization.



SWEDISH EXHIBITORS, Smart City Expo World Congress 2019






Dynamic 3-day program in the Nordic Pavilion

The aim of the Nordic pavilion is to strengthen our Nordic brand on technology and sustainability leadership and have a greater impact to global markets together. To ease up export to global markets, the Nordic pavilion organizes a tight 3-day program for cities, companies and other Nordic smart city delegates. The program includes a variety of presentations for solutions, matchmaking, fact-finding and networking events about smart city development and business opportunities in the Nordics. Cities also have a chance to present their challenges on the path towards smart city development in facilitated roundtable discussions to search for innovative solutions and peer experiences. The pavilion is also a fantastic opportunity to catch up with the fellow Nordics and create cooperation on smart and sustainable cities.

The Swedish Government is committed in transforming the country into a carbon neutral nation by 2040. This ambitious goal makes Sweden a promising investment arena, innovation hub and market for smart and inclusive cities. Thus, the Swedish delegation is on a mission to find real solutions for low carbon and people-centered city transformation, and collaboratively promote our forerunning solutions, such as the electrification of vehicles, smart sensor technologies and citizen participation.

Nordic pavilion will be in pavilion 2, stand D 431, along with exhibition stands, meeting room, mingling space and joint Nordic program. The supporting program includes the Nordic-Dutch collaborative International Smart City Business Forum and a national dinner on Monday, 18 November.

Organizers: Cleantech Scandinavia, Vinnova, Smart City Sweden, Business Finland, CLEAN, Innovation Norway, Promote Iceland

Want to join us?

Registration for the Swedish delegation at the Smart City Expo before 1 October. Read more and sign up here.

Feel free to get in touch with Tanja Tanskanen for any questions.

Tanja Tanskanen
Project Manager
+358 40 7205 045

By Tanja Tanskanen

The Winner of Nordic Cleantech Open is Out Now!

Cleantech Scandinavia’s Nordic Cleantech Open announced this week the Top 3 winners of Nordic Cleantech Open 2016/17 at the award dinner of Cleantech Capital Day in Oslo. And the winner is, for the first time, from Norway.

The winner of Nordic Cleantech Open 2017 is EnergyNest. EnergyNest has developed a new Thermal Energy Storage solution with game-changing economics for the renewable energy industry as well as for energy-intense industrial applications.

Second prize winner is SoilScout, with a ground-breaking technology providing critical insight into data from deep below the surface, wirelessly, near real-time, and maintenance free for up to 20 years, with the potential to reduce irrigation water and energy use by up to 50%.

Third prize is awarded to ifoodbag. ifoodbag offers an innovative, disruptive and recyclable packaging solution made from a paper composite material that locks in cold and protect refrigerated and frozen food.

Congratulations to EnergyNest, SoilScout and ifoodbag for impressing the investor and industry jury!

Read the full press release here.

By Tanja Tanskanen

Another Cleantech Capital Day – Another Success!

Even though we have now left this year’s Cleantech Capital Day behind us, the memory of the successful event is still fresh in our minds and leaves us feeling energized for what’s to come!

With approximately 210 participants from a range of different sectors, Cleantech Scandinavia’s flagship event of the year truly catered to all as talented entrepreneurs, curious investors, interesting industry representatives and supportive partners joined us.

On the 18th we kick-started the event with a session on how to increase cleantech business between the Nordics and China. With interesting keynotes from among others Han Xiaodong, Economic and Commercial Counsellor from the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm and Investment Director Julien Mialaret form Idinvest Partners.

Next stop was an encounter with our second geographical focus of the day, namely Canada were a competent panel answered questions after among other things an inspirational speech on doing business with Canada from the Ambassador of Canada to Sweden, Mr Kenneth Macartney. Make sure to join our Cleantech Showcase North America  on the 26-30 of September that will take us to Toronto, Boston and New York. More information on www.cleantechscandinavai.com/events.

In a parallel session WWF held court with their Climate Solvers, discussing Nordic innovation start-ups as a global force to reduce millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases and pull people out of energy poverty. Senior Advisor on Climate Innovation at WWF in Sweden, Stefan Henningsson moderated the session and with a competent panel of representatives from IKEA, Cleantech Invest and Swedish Incubators and Science Parks, the engaging exchange drew an impressive crowd.

During the afternoon all eyes were one the Nordic Cleantech Open finals and the suspense was palpable. Head of Information Technology Underwriting from Chubb Insurance held a watchful eye on the finalist pitching sessions were the final top 10, cleantech companies battled it out for the jury’s votes.

The day was wrapped up with a very much-appreciated dinner at Clarion Hotel and Congress were the Danish company Fresh.Land were crowned the winners of this year’s Nordic Cleantech Open.  Worthy runner-ups were TRINE and coming in on a third place were SBT Aqua. During the evening we also saw the 12 Climate Solver companies receive much deserved praise for their efforts in the field. Malmö Cleantech City handed out their award to the company that most efficiently may contribute to a more energy efficient building industry. This year the award went to SWATAB for their washing unit, which makes detergents redundant.

Congratulations once more to all the winners of the evening!

The second day of the event started with the incredibly popular “Speed Dating” session were entrepreneurs and investors had approximately 4 minutes to connect and create new collaborations.

The day continued with a  focus on actors relevant for making the cleantech sector prosperous. Representing this aspect were keynotes from Sitra on the opportunities of a circular economy from a Nordic perspective and from KAUST on cleantech opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The afternoon contained the latest from our different entrepreneurs in sessions such as “Movers & Shakers” and “Disrupters”, here companies such as Unibio, Exeger, Greater Than, ELIQ, Acosense and Ecofiltration all presented cleantech solutions that in one way or another represent a fresh take on things. Parallel to these sessions we also had the opportunity to listen to companies pitching solutions relevant in “Built Environment”, “Smart Grids” and “GreenChem and Water”.

By the time the closing remarks were made there was already a buzz going, speculating as to where next year’s event will take place, what it will contain and whether or not we will be able to top this year’s successful occasion.

In order to find out, stay tuned and we will announce the details regarding Cleantech Capital Day 2017 soon, but for now pencil in the 3-5 of April!

By Tanja Tanskanen

The top 10 best Nordic cleantech startups 2016!

We are very happy to announce the top 10 list with the best startups in the cleantech sector in the Nordics. These companies have been carefully chosen as the ones with best potential for success by the very competent Nordic Cleantech Open Jury. Previous years top 25 companies have shown great track record and have included several of today brightest upcoming cleantech stars. This years top 10 will for sure be at least as successful as the predecessors. Read more in the press release in English or Swedish.

Meet them all at Cleantech Capital Day!

By Tanja Tanskanen

Veolia/IBM to present at the City Day in Copenhagen!

Veolia and IBM partnered in late 2014 to deliver new digital urban solutions for smarter cities. We are delighted to welcome them to the City Day in Copenhagen on the 20 of May where they will talk about this project and how it is developing.

Further there will be some 20 cleantech companies relevant to city development and city officials participating during the event to further the goal of having more cleantech innovations being implemented around cities in the Nordic, Europe and the rest of the world.

Check out the program and request an invitation to City Day.

To read more about Veolia and IBM partnership, click here.

1 2