Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Ellen R Delisio0
CleanTech Open: The winner takes all
Winners of Nordic Cleantech Open 2012. Swedish Tomologic: Magnus Norberg Ohlsson and Josefin Nordström
Through a “talent show” for innovative and promising Nordic cleantech companies, Cleantech Scandinavia is identifying and nurturing upcoming stars in the cleantech field.
Called the Nordic Cleantech Open, the competition drew 97 applicants in only its second year, a 23 percent increase in applications from last year.
“We saw a need to accelerate the early stage Nordic cleantech pipeline by identifying, upgrading and highlighting the top 25 Nordic cleantech start-ups,” said Alexander Lidgren, a founder and the chairman of Cleantech Scandinavia. “We try to put them in front of the right people in ways that are not always easy for them to do themselves.”
SWEDISH COMPANY IN TOP
This year’s 25 finalists were showcased at sold-out events in California, London, Helsinki, Trolleholm and Copenhagen, he added. Swedish company Tomologic was named the top company in this year’s competition. Tomologic has developed algorithms companies can use to decrease waste during sheet-metal cutting. According to the company, its optimization service reduces customers’ material waste by up to 50 percent.
“This nomination gives us recognition as a promising cleantech company,” said Josefin Nordström, Tomologic’s chief financial officer, about the prize in the open. “It’s a great arena for meeting very interesting people, both on the investment side and for networking with other companies.”
SELECTING A WINNER
Finalists are selected based on their growth potential, taking into account innovation, their team members and the market they are trying to reach. “So, if you have a team with suitable experience and good networks, an innovative solution that also has some kind of protection from competitors and an easily identifiable, big target market for it, you have a winner,” Lidgren explained.
Applicants are judged by a panel of more than 60 investors and industrialists who give each company feedback and advice. This year each company was evaluated and reviewed by an average of 13 panel members. “For us, it was valuable to receive feedback from people within the industry,” Nordström said.
Tomologic offered one of the more unique cleantech solutions in an applicant pool that represented a wide range of cleantech topics. Renewable energy solutions drew the largest number of applicants this year, 27, according to a Cleantech Scandinavia report on this year’s contest. Out of those, five made it to the top 25. Within renewable energy, the largest subset was wave and tidal power, with seven companies entering from those areas. None of them made it to the top 25, however. The more established sub-category of wind energy attracted two entrants, both of whom made it to the top 25.
GETTING INTO FURTHER BUSINESS
Even though it only is in its second year, the open already is having an impact on industry development. About 10 of the 25 finalists from last year have raised growth capital, according to Lidgren. Many of them are posting strong sales figures as well. Waste-water treatment company Sorubin has secured numerous orders from municipalities and Internet-swapping company Netcycler has seen its user-base grow exponentially since last year’s open. SEEC, an energy storage company, has raised venture capital funding from Industrifonden, Lidgren noted. Another finalist, Seaweed Energy Solutions, has signed a development deal with Statoil to cultivate seaweed as an energy crop.
Cleantech Scandinavia currently is in discussions with investors to enable future Nordic Cleantech Opens, according to Lidgren. Thanks to the exposure from the open, Tomologic has opened discussions with potential investors, Nordström said. The company has some pilot customers and is eager to move forward.
“We believe in this and see that it works,” she said. “We want to finalize the development, enter the market and scale up.”
Alexander Lidgren, Cleantech Scandinavia.
PHOTO BEA TIGERHIELM