From an energy epicentre to eco-friendly swimwear, solar water solutions, map creation and airport item retrieval, Finnish innovations were diverse in their appeal in 2018.
A third of Finland’s total energy technology exports come from the vibrant energy cluster located in the coastal city of Vaasa. Home to almost 70 000 people, the humble face of the city belies an energetic core. In fact, one that has coined the label: the energy capital of the Nordics.
“Today electrical and automation technology are huge in Vaasa,” said Hanna Alavillamo, communication and brand manager of the energy cluster EnergyVaasa. “The Vaasa region is responsible for almost all of the Finnish development in this sector.”
Not quite a rags to riches story; more so a trash to eco-friendliness-in-style tale. Finland’s first sustainable swimwear brand was born out of two friends’ quest to find bikinis that both looked and felt good. But when Hanna Chalvet and Salla Valkonen decided to start their own swimwear company in 2016, not everyone was convinced.
“People thought we were crazy,” Valkonen recalled. “Summer in Finland is short and trying to make swimwear was seen as a big risk.”
Over two billion people worldwide use a contaminated source for their drinking water. It is a striking statistic, and one Finnish cleantech company Solar Water Solutions believes it can help to change.
“The estimate is close to half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2040,” said Antti Pohjola, CEO of Solar Water Solutions. “We can produce clean water locally and with free solar energy. The market for these kinds of technologies is huge.”
This Finnish startup launched a free phone wallpaper generator that blew up on Reddit and successfully boosted the profile of its raison d’être: customised map posters. The company’s name is a play on words of revered Finnish designer Alvar Aalto. It now has designs on the future.
“The stunt increased our sales five-fold, so it really has had a huge impact,” software developer Kimmo Brunfeldt said. “Now, we are already making a profit. There are only a few steps left to being able to do this full-time.”
A miserable experience at airport security led to the creation of Cotio, a Finnish startup reuniting passengers with items seized by airport security.
The idea is simple: Whenever airport security staff remove an item from a passenger, they place a sticker with an identification code on the item and present the passenger with a receipt for the surrendered item. A similar receipt will be used to replace any items removed from checked baggage.
“Passengers don’t enjoy having to hand over their items – and like getting them back. Some items may have emotional value that can’t be measured in money. They’re especially important,” explained founder and chief executive Kimmo Collander.