Last Thursday, Smart City Sweden and Teknikföretagen (the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries) hosted a webinar on the topic of export in a circular economy. The participants, representing three Swedish companies at the forefront of the transition to circularity, gave insights to how their companies are working with enabling innovation and export in a circular economy.

Ann-Sofi Gaverstedt from Teknikföretagen led the webinar that took place digitally on the 12th of November.

New business models for a circular economy

First up was Elinor Kruse, responsible for Circular Economy at Teknikföretagen, who said that new business models, digitalisation, co-creation and R&D are key drivers for the Swedish tech companies to deliver value for their clients. Ms. Kruse also highlighted that the radical transformation needed in cities is enabled by technology and mentioned shared owning and leasing as important trends for building business models.

From a global perspective, one advantage for Swedish Tech Companies is that their tech solutions often mean long lifetime and good quality, which often is based on long-term investments. That means that companies’ services and products can fit in a circular economy since new business models further can increase resource efficiency. The trends such as the EU Green Deal is giving Swedish tech companies good business opportunities because they are already delivering a green positive impact, according to Ms. Kruse.

Strong innovation culture a success factor

Jonas Willaredt, Head of Sustainability at Husqvarna Division, said that Husqvarna, a global leading producer of outdoor power products, has reduced their CO2 emissions by almost 25 % in just four years, at the same time as they have increased their turnover. Mr. Willaredt highlighted that adapting business models takes time and that it is important to have the customer in focus when trying to apply new business models.

Another success factor is to create a strong innovation culture within the company and allow employees to be innovative, but also to use innovative forces in society, according to Mr. Willaredt. He gave the example of one competition that the company has initiated, where start-ups got to compete with their innovations and the winner got to use Husqvarna’s resources to develop their solution.

Sustainability as a competitive advantage

Peter Isberg, Digital Lead and Business Development at ABB, a global leader in power and automation technologies, talked about how ABB is helping the customers to increase the length of the products by offering good quality, reparation and product updates. He described digitalisation as an enabler for development for ABBs customers to save energy and have better monitoring of their products.

To stay competitive, Mr. Isberg mentioned company responsibility as a crucial factor. He also talked about how Swedish quality and focus on sustainability should be used more globally to brand Swedish companies and their services and products. A sustainable company will attract the next generation, as well as long-term partnerships with clients. To create a competitive and sustainable company, it is important to allow mistakes in the organisation and to learn from them, but also to be open to partnerships and to learn from each other, according to Mr. Isberg.

Sweden as a testbed

Daniel Nyman, Modernisation Business Director at KONE, a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, said that the company’s pledge is to have carbon-neutral operations by 2030. Urbanisation is a megatrend and KONE wants to contribute to a better and sustainable urban living by helping people move around in and between buildings, in ways that are smooth and safe. We need to rethink how we live, work and play in cities, according to Mr. Nyman.

One of the factors to reach this goal is to look at how customers can use their assets in a smarter way. Office areas are usually used about 40 % of the time. How can this space be used more efficiently?

Digitalisation is seen as an enabler at KONE. As an example, KONE is using sensors that are connected to cloud-based service and artificial intelligence-based analytics to monitor elevators and escalators. The sensors send information to KONE and identify potential issues before a product needs repairing, which enables predictive maintenance and reduces the number of travels to the customer. Finally, Mr. Nyman mentioned how the company uses Sweden as a testbed for new, sustainable solutions, which can later be scaled up to other countries.

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