Finland is a country that is very generous with its entrepreneurs. According to the representatives from Tekes, a publicly funded organization for financing research, development and innovation in Finland, it’s pretty easy for most entrepreneurs to get low-interest grants and loans for 1 million euros or less. That’s obviously pretty appealing to many would-be entrepreneurs (one of the entrepreneurs we spoke to called Tekes the “Finnish rainmaker”), and in turn this easy access to funding makes it pretty easy for game changing technologies to have a shot at reaching the mainstream.
Here are four interesting startups we learned about during my visit to Finland last week:
Eniram’s Shipping Solution: Finland has a long history of shipbuilding and maritime technology. Eniram’s technology dramatically reduces fuel consumption, which is of great interest to this local industry due to EU carbon caps. Eniram Vessel Emission Tracker (VET) is a real-time vessel emission tracking system. It helps the ship’s crew and operator to comply with environmental regulations and save fuel by promoting easy local and remote management of emissions. The system tracks environmental performance in real time and makes recommendations to the ship’s operators about small changes they can make in navigation and rudders that will result in big energy savings. The company estimates that its technology will lead to 11%-13% emissions savings on retrofits of current ships and up to 60% for new builds. This technology has an astonishing 2-12 month payback due to the fuel savings associated with its use. Since the shipping industry accounts for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions globally, this could truly be a game changer.
Vacon’s AC Drives AC drives control the speed of electric motors to ensure that the the motor only runs at the speed that is required for its job–no more no less. Electric motors consume 30% of all electricity worldwide, and this number can be *reduced* by 30% if only half of all motors are retrofitted with AC drives. The payback for these devices is only 12-18 months.
The Discbox Slider by StoraEnso: The Discbox Slider turns traditional plastic heavy CD and DVD packaging on its head by producing a recycled paperboard version. In addition to reducing the carbon impact of the current packaging solution by 90%, this technology also reduces printing and production costs for CD makers, due to the fact that the liner notes can be printed right on the box. Plus, the product weighs half as much as the plastic version, which reduces shipping costs as well as fossil fuel consumption. Sony BMG is using this product in order to comply with the Walmart Scorecard’s packaging requirements.
Picodeon’s Coating Technology: Picodeon technology enables the deposit of virtually any type of layer on any type of material. It’s high tech and it took me a few tries to really get it, but this technology has literally thousands of application possibilities in the clean tech sector. As our presenter put it: “Everything is coated,” and the ability to efficiently and effectively coat any material with any substance at a very precise thickness is a game changer for many industries: construction, optics, medical devices, automotive components, and energy conversion and storage technologies like fuel cells. Picodeon has held off from focusing on one industry thus far, choosing to licenses its technology to any industry that needs it. The media would more likely latch ont this company if it focused on one technological innovation sector like thin film solar, fuel cells, or automotive efficiency–and that might explain why you probably haven’t heard of them, but that doesn’t make the technology any less remarkable.