The abundance of trees in Finland has ensured that forestry has remained the local economy’s chief focus for centuries. Now, as digitalisation depletes demand for paper, a recent news report suggests that clean technology, or cleantech, has taken the mantle of Finland’s biggest industry.
“When you look at the big trends in the world, such as urbanisation and climate change, these challenges are very complex,” explains Santtu Hulkkonen, executive vice president of advisory service and digital collaboration platform Solved. “Cleantech is a big market opportunity when it comes to energy, water, waste and mobility. You need a systemic approach to deal with these complex challenges.”
Solved meets them head-on, by connecting customers and their stakeholders with a global network of over 1 500 leading multi-disciplinary sustainability experts.
“In order to tackle the issues in an optimal way you need to access the best people and talent around the world and bring them quickly together,” Hulkkonen continues. “We have built a big expert network and have a collaborative platform which enables our clients to get the best possible team across company borders.”
Initially launched as Cleantech Finland’s online service in 2012, Solved was founded as a standalone company the following year by Hulkkonen, CEO Janne Hietaniemi and vice president Radoslav Mizera. Currently with offices in Helsinki, Bratislava and Oulu, the 10-person team has already overseen more than 60 projects, predominantly in Europe.
“The three key areas we focus on are cities, industries and resorts,” Hulkkonen states. “Of these, the main customer group at the moment are cities. These include projects connected to urban planning, such as sustainable city districts, energy systems and real estate developments.”
The one common thread between these is that the Internet’s lack of geographic discrimination means there are no longer boundaries to acquiring suitable expertise.
“Even as a city major or economic or environment director of small city, you have access to the best possible knowhow in the world at your fingertips,” Hulkkonen says. “They work for you in a very modern, efficient way. It is very exciting; almost too good to be true.”
Elsewhere, besides smart city solutions, some of the environmental, energy and industrial challenges solved by Solved include co-creating bioeconomy- and circular economy-based business concepts and sustainable ski resorts.
The Solved platform is based on design methodology developed at Stanford University, which has been digitalised. The business model emphasises that users should also establish their own projects and tap into the expert network. Thus, in the midst of Solved’s scaling up and increased self-containment, this in turn diminishes the necessary involvement of its core team.
“As more and more projects are generated by experts in the network, the platform enables growth with no boundaries,” Hulkkonen underlines.
The company is thus on the cusp of bigger things. Much, much bigger. Whilst Solved is set to post one million euros in revenue this year, its projected turnover for 2020 is 100 million euros.
“A bigger investment round will take place in 2017 from the US and Asia,” Hulkkonen states. “Our scalability is developing nicely, and we are very confident about the situation in future.”