Sustainability in the built environment: MI-3 fosters global innovation

By Deb Noller, Switch Automation • May 18, 2018

A vibrant range of international thought leaders are about to descend on Malmö, Sweden. In less than a week, Mission Innovation-3 (MI-3) will shine a spotlight on sustainability in the built environment. Over 50 public servants, energy specialists and private sector representatives from every corner of the world will convene to drive innovative, clean energy policies and initiatives.

I’m looking forward to joining the UAE’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and European Commission’s Deputy Director of General Research, Science and Innovation to discuss how open data will revolutionize building performance and reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Malmö serves as the perfect host city for this impactful event, given the breadth of sustainability-focused startups emerging from the Nordic region. That said, I want to take a moment to highlight some of the influencers emerging from the region.

The Nordic countries consist of five states; including Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland. The ‘Nordic 8’ is a handful of cities in the region that have been crucial in driving sustainability in the built environment, consisting of a total of 2.8 million people and a GDP of $291B US. This collective of cities has gained global recognition for their early and collective adoption of a range of sustainable technologies.

The EU is an instrumental supporter of the region’s sustainability startup culture and offers unique opportunities for collaboration along with financial support for organizations such as Nordic Innovators and Nordic Energy Research. To celebrate MI-3 and Nordic Clean Energy Week, I’ve gathered some of the most prolific Nordic startups driving sustainability in the built environment by country.

Sweden

Sweden is the most populous of the Nordic countries with 9.9 million residents. Various startups specializing in energy conservation have emerged from Swedish cities like Stockholm and Malmö; most notably ClimaCheck, a group focused on increasing energy efficiency throughout industrial heating and cooling processes. This startup is reducing energy usage by 10-40% for everything from ice rinks to commercial buildings. Enjay is another, recovering energy from ventilation systems for restaurants and saving an average of 250,000 kWh per establishment in CO2 emissions and other energy costs.

One of the most recent and innovative startups making a splash in Sweden in 2018 is Altered, whose award-winning tap is able to reduce water usage by 50 times.

Denmark

SBT Instruments are an up and coming bacteria detection system, making sure nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark. Their technology rapidly analyzes surfaces and liquids to reveal bacterial growth in real time, lending itself to a variety of public and private applications across the food, medical and health industries.

The Danish GridManager A/S platform also enables online monitoring of energy consumption to identify leaks and inefficiencies across enterprises. This software solution is being developed with the support of IBM and is perhaps most notable for its scalability.

Finland

Finland is an extremely attractive startup destination for its low corporate tax rate of 20%, a number only matched by Iceland in the region. This has given rise to companies like Leanheat, a Finnish pioneer in digital HVAC efficiency, with an IoT and AI solution that has been installed in over 35,000 apartments so far. Pitched at both building owners and the consumer market, this metering solution alters and optimizes apartment temperature to boost occupant comfort and energy efficiency by up to 30%.

Teraloop is looking to revolutionize energy storage with an advanced grid-connected rotor that stores and releases surplus energy when needed. This diverse and large-scale solution promotes the use of renewables and is recommended as a solution for energy grid congestion and volatility.

Enevo is a forward-thinking waste and recycling services company from Finland distinguishing itself with its use of sensors to collect waste data. By measuring and analyzing waste facilities, the company allows customers to track and project waste creation, with a dozen European cities even using the solution to establish waste truck route scheduling based on container fullness.

sustainability in the built environment
Slottsmöllan windmill in Malmö, Sweden

Norway

A small population of 5.2 million and relatively high taxes has meant that Norway is a bit of an underdog on the Nordic startup scene. Recently introduced governmental support in the form of public grants and mentoring for startups has gone some way towards addressing this.

Named after the ancient god of Norse mythology, Heimdall Power is one Norwegian startup enabling utility companies and owners to convert their power grids to smart grids. By maintaining and upgrading these electric grids, Heimdall prevents power failures and drives energy and cost efficiency.

Located in the windy city of Stavanger, Innowind is an engineering company pioneering a new class of wind turbine. Despite their onshore and offshore turbines being smaller than the competition, the devices actually tend to offer better efficiency for every square meter they occupy and are straightforward to set up.

Iceland

With a population of under 340,000, Iceland has the smallest population of the Nordic countries and correspondingly, has the fewest startups. eTactica has made an impact, however, with a retrofit monitoring system that tracks and analyzes electricity consumption on a per-branch basis. This enables organizations to spot energy usage inefficiencies or interruptions in order to become more cost effective and environmentally friendly.

Sustainability in the built environment

With the previous Mission Innovation events taking place in San Francisco and Beijing, hosting the latest event in the Nordic region is fitting given the cultural interest in environmentalism, government investment and the diverse range of sustainable startups popping up in this part of the world. For an in-depth insight into the way Nordic startups are driving sustainability in the built environment, take a look at Nordic Cleantech Open’s 2018 guide to the 25 Startups Changing How Business Is Done in a Sustainable Way. I’ll be posting daily blogs from MI-3, so be sure to visit the Switch blog to hear details from these high-impact discussions.

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