21 February 2017
10 Innovators pitch their solutions at the Open Innovation in Gothenburg
The former industrial city of Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast has made a major turnaround and is now at the forefront of adopting sustainability and climate goals of its own.
Part of this turnaround involves engaging its citizens in identifying and emulating more climate friendly behaviour. To this end, 10 innovators were selected to pitch their solution ideas to the municipality at Climate-KIC and Business Region Gothenburg’s Open Innovation Day on 6 October.
From being known mainly as the heavy industry capital of the Swedish west coast, Gothenburg has developed into a climate pioneer among cities. In addition to becoming a Climate-KIC partner and it’s other sustainability initiatives, Gothenburg was the first city in the world to issue green bonds to speed up the process of reaching its climate goals.
Gothenburg Start-Up City
Alongside its green mind set, Gothenburg has also witnessed the emergence of a bubbling entrepreneurial scene. Here, being home to some of Sweden’s most innovative universities, such as the Climate-KIC core partner Chalmers University of Technology, certainly helps.
A number of startups currently in Climate-KIC’s accelerator programme originate in Gothenburg, including this year’s Venture Competition finalist Swedish Algae Factory – a start-up developing algae based treatment systems for waste water with the goal to process algae biomass into bio crude oil. Others include
Open Innovation from the Bottom Up
The City of Gothenburg was looking for ways to engage its citizens in the endeavour to support their political goals on tackling climate change. They chose to use Climate-KIC’s Open Innovation concept, which had already been successfully carried out in the Nordic cities of Copenhagen and Malmö.
Climate-KIC’s approach to Open Innovation is based on the debunking of the myth that innovation requires closed doors and full control by the proprietary company. An open approach ensures that a larger number of innovative ideas come to see the light of day, as they are free for anyone to pursue. This is aligned with the Climate-KIC goal of facilitating innovations which contribute to climate change mitigation, regardless of who the executing party is.
A Successful Call for Solutions
A call for solutions in June 2016, received a good response. 37 solutions from eight countries were received, with an even distribution between different sectors. 15 per cent of the submitted ideas came from the research sector, 25 per cent from small to medium sized companies and spin offs, and 30 per cent from NGOs, individuals and others.
Out of these 37 solutions, 10 were selected by the City of Gothenburg with support from Business Region Gothenburg and Climate-KIC Nordic to receive coaching and finally pitch at the Open Innovation Day in Gothenburg.
”A lot of the time, climate goals are set at a high strategic level. However, innovation often happens at grass root level and what we need is a broad movement – a mobilisation of the citizens.”
Lars Bern, Business Region Gothenburg
Open Innovation Day
Burgårdens Konferenssentrum in central Gothenburg was the venue on 6 October 2016 with almost 100 participants including city officials, local business people, investors, academia, students and startups.
Several prominent speakers set the scene including, the Deputy Mayor of Gothenburg, Ulf Kamne, Anna Ledin, Environmental Director of Gothenburg, and John Holmberg, professor at Chalmers University and expert in sustainable production systems and circular systems thinking.
Additionally, a panel consisting of Anne-Louise Höghfält from the City of Gothenburg, Roger Cederberg from GU Ventures and Susanne Pedersen from Climate-KIC Nordic evaluated the ideas right away and provided constructive feedback.
Pitches and Feedback
The first pitch of the day was given by Håkan Swahn from Gothenburg, who presented Climate Saver – a app-based solution for visualising behavioural impact on the climate. The panel suggested that the strength of this solution would be the founders’ knowledge of the local context, and that this may spark a movement from the bottom up.
Lars Holtse Bonde, former student at the Climate-KIC partner university DTU, now co-founder of the start-up Picodat which is currently enrolled in Climate-KIC’s accelerator programme, presented the solution SunMapper. SunMapper is a free online tool that calculates the potential savings of installing solar panels on any roof in Denmark within seconds.
The panel was unanimously impressed by the success Picodat has achieved to date, and could clearly see the advantage of simplified decision making for consumers.
The second Climate-KIC supported start-up to present at the Open Innovation Day was Ducky, a spin-off from Climate-KIC’s Norwegian university partner NTNU. Bogdan Glogovac caught the audience’s attention by explaining the concept of visualising one’s CO2 consumption using a balloon:
— Climate-KIC Nordic (@CKICNordic) October 6, 2016
The panellists were excited about the gentle peer pressure facilitated by the app, something which has a proven effect on people’s behaviour [link reference].
NatureBros (formerly NullMull)
Darina Onoprienko from Germany presented a concept of online grocery shopping with zero packaging. By providing locally sourced, organic produce by bicycle, NatureBros will contribute to less wasteful consumption on multiple levels.
The feedback from the panel was encouraging, with some scepticism as to the bike friendliness of Gothenburg. The concept was however thought to be highly scalable, especially in a business to business angle.
A start-up that has already been successful in capturing several European cities, starting in Copenhagen, is TooGoodToGo. Claus Pedersen presented their concept of selling restaurant leftovers at a low price, thereby reducing food waste.
The streamlined app and its scalability were highlighted by the panel, which were impressed by how far this start-up has come in a short time with very little external support.
TooGoodToGo recently won the Nordic Council’s Environment Prize 2016.
From NTNU came Patrick Driscoll and presented “Uber fro skill sharing” – iHow. Through the application of blockchain technology, this sharing economy platform will simplify and secure the process of sharing skills between the citizens of Gothenburg and other cities. The panel appreciated the targeted focus, and the strategy of starting out small.
Shared Grocery Shopping
Why go to the supermarket alone when you could share a car and the cost of driving? How about also being incentivised to do so through store discounts? The Chalmers student Aako Raoofi wants to offer these opportunities to the inhabitants of Gothenburg in an easy way.
The panel were positive, but thought that the incentives to grocery stores should be further developed.
— Kaj Embrén (@KajEmbren) October 6, 2016
Pernilla Hyllenius from the Climate-KIC partner company Trivector presented a pilot project for businesses where they would let employees try out electric bikes for commuting in a trial period before being able to purchase them at a discounted price. This period would encompass a motivational campaign focusing on friendly competition and behaviour change.
Again, the peer pressure aspect was positively received by the panel, as did the ideas alignment with Gothenburg’s stated goals of being a bike city.
Another actor from the sharing economy was Donkey Republic – a Copenhagen based start-up facilitating convenient bike sharing in cities. Its platform based nature allows for high scalability, as Donkey Republic does not need to own all the bikes being shared. This was recognized by the panel, who also highlighted the complementarity with existing infrastructure. Donkey Republic is currently enrolled in the Climate-KIC Accelerator.
The last one to pitch at the Open Innovation Day was David Bryngelsson from Chalmers University. He energetically presented a tool for restaurants to visualise their climate impact, which according to the panel was “easy to get excited about.” The challenge here is thought to be the market entry, which needs to be both targeted and well thought out, potentially starting with schools and hospitals.
All of the ideas presented were recieved well both by the panel and the City of Gothenburg. Many have now been selected for further elaboration and potential implementation in collaboration with the municipality. News on these will follow shortly, so stay tuned.
If you are interested in hearing more about our Open Innovation Day process – contact Peter Vangsbo, Business Developer in Climate-KIC’s Nordic Centre email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, take a look at our Storify from the Open Innovation Day: