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Sustainable Digitalisation - Teemu Lehtinen - KIRAHub

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Smart City Expo 2019 w/ Nokia, FIWARE & Bettair

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4 eye-catching Nordic startups at Oslo Innovation Week 2019

This is a look at eye-catching Nordic startups. Learn how Nordic startups differ from other ecosystems in this detailed report.

Will Needham

In September 2019, I attended Oslo Innovation Week 2019. An inspiring program of events was scheduled (check the link for more details!) around the themes of:

  • Future of Work
  • Cities
  • Entrepreneurship & Startups
  • Quality of Life

On the Tuesday, I attended the 100 Pitches event, in which 49 (slightly less than advertised 😉) Nordic startups pitched their company to a room full of investors, startups, entrepreneurs. In this post, I shine a light on some of the startups that caught my eye on the big stage.

The format

Each startup was given 3 minutes to sell their idea to the room and a panel of experts within each of the categories. A winner was selected from each heat to pitch in the Finals on the Thursday of the Innovation Week.

Overriding impressions

  • The standard of most startups that pitched was high.
  • Maturity varied from pre-seed to currently raising Series A.
  • Most startups that pitched could demonstrate traction with many reporting 5 or 6 figure revenues.
  • Most of the startups that pitched originated in the Nordics, but there were examples of startups from other geographies, but with offices in the Nordics (and looking to expand their operations here).
  • It was really great to see nearly all of the startups that pitched directly quoting which of the UN Sustainable Developments Goals their business was targeting (see my photo from the Talection pitch below!). Even if they were not a sustainable-tech startup. This is not something I've seen in the UK and I think this says a lot about the culture here. Sustainability is definitely not a nice-to-have, or an after-thought, but something that is deeply ingrained in decision-making and company development.

Talection is a startup that creates a 'digital twin ' of yourself, your employees or your job candidates and claims to eradicate 'bad hires'. Whilst I wasn't completely sold on the morality of this... it was great to see them quote which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals their product addressed. Something which a lot of startups did in their presentation.

The 4 eye-catching startups

1) Volta Greentech (website)

If cattle were a country, they would rank third in greenhouse gas emissions!

Most people would think the greenhouse gas emissions from cows is just an irrefutable fact of life and not something we have control over. Volta Greentech have other ideas.

This diverse team of engineers, biologists and seaweed experts have developed an innovative method of reducing emissions from cows through enteric fermentation. This means they feed cows with a small amount of Asparagopsis seaweed which triggers a process within the cows that blocks methane production. All in a way that doesn't adversely harm the cows.

Their challenge now is to commercially scale the production of this seaweed; something which hasn't been done before!

2) iHopa (website)

The iHopa team is based in Stockholm, Sweden & Romania.

iHopa is a unique take on the Sharing Economy. We've all heard about shared office space, or shared mobility, but what about shared household items? They call this co-owning.

The example used in the pitch was the lawnmower. Does every house in your street really need its own lawnmower? No, probably not. A piece of equipment that you might use once a month.

iHopa enables small communities of neighbourly residents to buy and share equipment like this. By pooling resources in this way, higher-quality items become more affordable. And it's more sustainable as we have less things that will ultimately need to be disposed off at their end-of-life.

The size of the market is potentially huge, and this is what impressed the judges.

3) Impact Mapper (website)

Impact Mapper UI

One of the most convincing pitches was by Jagadha Sivan, COO of Impact Mapper.

At its core, Impact Mapper is a data collection, management and visualisation platform that makes it easy for charities & non-profits to measure the social impact of their projects and initiatives. This is something that traditionally has been very difficult to achieve, or least do well.

Typically, these organisations might not have the skills and experience to present such insights.

Some of the example metrics that customers are using Impact Mapper to track are 'increasing human rights' and 'eradicating racial and gender inequalities'. What makes Impact Mapper different is their long term approach to tracking such metrics.

4) Desert Control (website)

I sat watching the Desert Control pitch thinking 'this is too good to be true... what's the catch?'. And to be honest, I'm still unsure what the catch is.

Based on over 10 years of research, Desert Control have developed a patented substance called Liquid Nanoclay (LNC). When applied to dry, arid land, this LNC alters the soil profile and gives it water-retaining properties, making it fertile and suitable for agriculture.

The 'low hanging fruit' application the company has targeted initially is watering golf courses in the Middle East. They claim applying the LNC has reduced the amount of water required to keep the gold courses well-maintained by up to 65%, saving vital water resources and of course, money.

However the company has much larger aspirations that just golf courses as the promotional video (above) details.


Thanks to Oslo Innovation Week for having me; it was a really inspiring day! Have any of these startups caught your eye? Let me know in the comments or send me an email to discuss further: will (at) futuredistributed (dot) org