on Sunday June 9, 2019

Highlights of Cleantech Forum Europe 2019

Brief summary of this article:

The Setting

Stockholm has become the host for Cleantech Forum Europe for the second time and we definitely know why: from the moment of landing in the city’s airport you feel both the culture of innovation and the focus on climate change mitigation: you are reminded about it literally at every step of the Arlanda airport.

The city itself is built on 14 islands. As a result, the city is uniquely beautiful. However, the beauty of this Northern Venice is so tender and fragile in spring that you cannot help but want to preserve it. Such a worthwhile business case for innovating with clean technologies in view of the imminent climate crisis!

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It should be also noted how well the organisers, CleanTech Group, did their job not only in terms of gathering many interesting cleantech companies and investors and ensuring valuable content, but also by choosing the venue imbued with Scandinavian industrial romanticism. The event was held in a former brewery:

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while the reception ceremony took place on the site of an old factory of Nobel built in 1891:

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The Opening of the Forum

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The 15th edition of Cleantech Forum in Europe looked to the future of sustainable innovation with hope, courage and confidence. And there are grounds for that: being a real frontrunner in climate action, its hosting city has managed to cut the carbon dioxide emissions by 25% per citizen since 1990 (more statistics and information about Stockholm’s tech landscape and achievements).

For the opening day, the Forum organisers partnered with the GrowSmarter project to bring event attendees to the sites of successful local smart lighting, energy optimization and smart waste management companies.

At the same time, at the event venue, other attendees (who had preferred this second option) could listen to the pitches and vote for the participants of the Nordic Cleantech Open Finals.

The 2019 Nordic Cleantech Open was supported by Swedish Energy Agency whose mission is to create a long term energy system. The competition started with 116 innovative companies, but only 10 of them participated in the Nordic Cleantech Open Finals. The main award was taken by SurfCleaner – a solar-driven water treatment solution which eliminates all types of pollutants from the water, but is particularly good at cleaning the water from oil, foam, grease, sludge and all types of marine littering.

SurfCleaner manages to separate 8,000 liters of oil in an hour and can operate 24/7 with almost no maintenance.

Answering the question from the audience how it is possible for a moderately sized engine to pump such a huge amount of water in just an hour, Christina Lundback, Founder & CMO of the company, answered that the tool was invented by her father, who had been inspired by the most powerful engine on Earth: the human heart incessantly pumps the blood to the whole body for dozens of years. The heart-like solution could not but win the hearts of the voters.

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Some of the other interesting Open Finals participants:

Einride – a Transport as a Service solution which offers intelligent routing services for autonomous electric vehicles. The service helps to optimise the delivery time and energy consumption. Einride claims bring its customers 90% of CO2 savings, 60% of operating cost savings, and a 200% rise in productivity.

Moving floor – The world’s first automatic solution for cleaning pig barns. Moving Floor Pig Equipment is based on the solid floor which moves 10-15 times a day. The cleaning is done automatically and doesn’t need any water. In addition to considerably lower operation and maintenance costs, the tool leads to a 95% decrease in the ammonia level in comparison to typical solutions. At the moment the solution is used in about 100 commercial farms.

TotalCtrl offers an inventory system via SaaS which gives grocery stores full control over expiration data and in this way helps to eliminate food waste. The company is focused solely on grocery stores for two main reasons. Firstly, groceries have lots of problems with food waste, including a significant amount of manual work required to monitor expiration dates. Secondly, food waste is expensive for grocery providers and that is why they are open to change.

Afterwards all the attendees were re-united for the welcoming speech and introductory sessions. Here are some noteworthy facts and ideas from those sessions:

  • Drivers which matter. We all face a remarkable increase in the number and the variety of drivers which push industries to change. Multiple newcomers with their sustainable products and innovative services in digital technologies, chemicals or engineering make the prices more competitive and push the industry forward. But not less important – the number of venturing programs, accelerators and hubs which support companies that make the impact is steadily growing.

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  • Increased investments in cleantech companies. Since 2014, global venture and growth capital investments into sustainable innovation companies have increased by 2.5 times and resulted in $30B in 2018.

  • New investors. New investors are coming full of desire to invest in cleantech. The strongest current wave of newcomers come from the Asia Pacific regions. Among the most prominent new players are ENGIE, Equinor, EnecoGroup, Statkraft, EnBW and National Grid.

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The next two days were full of inspiring workshops and speeches by various domain experts, industry analysis and discussion panels, and, certainly, presentations by cleantech companies seeking support from investors.

Cleantech Investment and Acceleration Opportunities

If your cleantech company is also looking for an investment, peruse this presentation demystifying such a powerful SME instrument as the H2020 grants of the European Commission. H2020 is a game-changing and the largest non-dilutive grant scheme in the world.

For more investment opportunities and contacts of respective investment companies, please have a look at the official presentation from the investors’ panel at the forum.

If your cleantech company is interested in support from accelerators or corporates, please see “Corporates and Startups: What are the roots of, and the routes to, more successful engagements?”

Exponential Climate Action Roadmap

The Exponential Climate Action Roadmap is a multi-party initiative which sets out the stages for avoiding a hothouse earth future. Its authors realise the roadmap is still a Minimum Viable Product and note that it is important to focus on halving the emissions in the nearest decade and in each following decade.

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The roadmap authors are inspired by Moore’s Law:

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And it is not just speculation whether this law is applicable to radical decarbonisation of our economy: according to this project research, solutions already exist to halve CO2 in every economic sector. However, to accelerate their adoption, we all need a unity of Climate leadership, Policy, Finance, and Technology. Please see the official presentation for more details.

Climate Impact Through Technology

Currently, 10% of the richest people in the world, are responsible for 50% of emissions, while the poorest 50% produce just 10% of emissions. But it is possible both to raise the living standards and to decarbonise the economy!

In order to raise prosperity, we need a growing demand for cleantech solutions from a critical mass of companies, cities, countries, citizens.

Technology is the most powerful accelerator: it can enable ⅓ of the first CO2 halving with current technologies.

The tech sector can influence whether we live in a 1.5-2 ⁰C or in a +3-4 ⁰C world.

In order to scale, “Entrepreneurs must rock and innovations must rock”. Tesla is a good example of a great industry-breaking innovation which really makes an impact.

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Good news for consumers and B2B target audiences is that the acquisition costs are decreasing exponentially as well:

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Towards Zero Emissions in Transport Industry

Short journeys, mostly in or around cities, make 73% of CO2 emissions coming from the transport industry, when long journeys account just for 27%. That is why it is so important to entirely replace petrol cars, motor bikes, and other short-journey transport with clean energy vehicles. Another impactful action is to promote sharing schemes. Just one related fact: a personal car is used on average just 5% of the time.

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China aims to become a global leader in the EV market. The local government strongly supports the shift towards electric vehicles and offers huge tax incentives and subsidies. At the moment, every 5 weeks, China adds a fleet of electric buses equivalent to the entire London bus fleet – 9500 buses. All buses in Shenzhen city are electric. Additionally, around 35% of all the electric cars that have been sold in the world were bought in China.

China’s goal is to ensure 85% of its transport is electric in the 2020s.

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For more information on the trends affecting the transportation industry, their effects and statistics, see “Mobility for the 2020s: A Progress Report from the Frontlines”.


Hydrogen is still in the beginning of the value chain. The Gunfire company considers that at the moment hydrogen can be regarded as a bridge between electricity and gas. Hydrogen’s prominent advantages: it allows for producing steel in a more ecological way and enables keeping the initial amount of energy for a long time unlike the battery which is gradually losing the charge. The attendees of the session mentioned the need to produce hydrogen considerably cheaper than the conventional fuel to keep it competitive.

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Heating and Cooling

The attendees of the “Heating & Cooling” session discussed how to increase the efficiency level while responding to the growing demand. Artificial Intelligence was named as one of the ways to make heating, ventilation, and air conditioning smarter and more efficient both in private homes and in commercial buildings.

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Energy Storage

Several presenting companies offered energy storage services. For example, Skeleton Technologies offers unique energy storage solutions for various industries from automotive to aerospace. Ferroamp offers Ferroamp Smart Energy Storage based on a number of connected Lithium Ion cells which are guided by intelligent software for smart energy usage depending on the weather, current energy demand, or energy cost.


It would not have been a good cleantech event if such an important topic as circularity had not been covered. Circularity as a new paradigm for economy can meet two crucial and seemingly conflicting ends: enable growing prosperity and protect the environment.

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We loved the presentation of SITRA on this topic! While the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals spurred the current trends towards efficient use of resources and cleantech innovation, circular economy is seen as the next stage of this movement’s evolution.

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An interesting example of shifting from a traditional business model to circular was Michelin. Being a product company at its core, nowadays Michelin is transforming into a solution business, unlocking new value streams and planning a diverse range of services: from pay-per-mile and fuel efficiency services to services associated with tire recycling and tire maintenance. Michelin offers companies the data analysis expertise in order to increase customers’ efficiency in maintenance operations and reduce operating costs. The goal of Michelin is to double revenue from the sale of services and solutions by 2020. According to SITRA, there is a potential of 3bn Euro in 10 years with such “win-win” business cases.

At the end of their presentation, SITRA raised a very interesting question: “Will it soon be embarrassing to own things?”

Food Waste Management

In high-income countries, 30% of food is wasted. Retailers are losing most due to the inefficient food management, their losses can amount to 10% of income.

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Reducing food waste and shifting towards a plant-based diet are among the most important topics related to the climate change discussions. There are different ways how innovative companies are trying to help retailers to reduce food waste. For example, companies like Whywaste or TotalCtrl simplify expiration date management,

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companies like Fresh.Land help customers to buy fresh lemons and avocados straight from the farmers.

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Some countries like France even outlaw food waste from supermarkets, forcing retailers to use more precise methods to control the expiration date and distribute products in a more efficient way.


We hope these highlights are useful for you. For more details, please check out the publicly available presentations from the Cleantech Forum Europe 2019.

Watch the video above for a reply to the question “What’s next?” and, hopefully, see you in Luxembourg in 2020!

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