Maria Olofsson, Operation Manager at Uminova Innovation and Process Developer for Incubators and Science Parks at Ignite Sweden, will moderate the annual conference for the fourth time.

Ignite Sweden Summit is around the corner. In Stockholm on November 27, over 300 innovation enthusiasts will attend our annual meet-up to learn from the best collaboration practices creating real impact.

“Attendees can expect a conference with a lot of action. We aim to inspire them with real stories of successful collaborations that have made a difference. Our hope is that they find inspiration in what has already been done, learn from these experiences, maybe ‘steal’ some ideas to adopt in their collaborations, and get to know a lot of people that are action-oriented from the innovation ecosystem,” says Maria.

The program for the sixth edition of Ignite Sweden Summit will include workshops, collaboration stories, fireside chats, panel discussions, Ignite Awards celebrations, networking opportunities and more.

“This is a unique conference where we bring together the entire innovation ecosystem. We will begin with a story from a collaboration that was initiated at last year’s conference, with the hope that we can achieve even more this year,” she anticipates.

Impact in Action

This year’s Ignite Sweden Summit will focus on how the entire innovation ecosystem can come together to create real impact.

“We cannot build a startup in silos if we want our innovative startups to make a lasting impact for the future. For that, we really need to come together. They need their first customer, whether it’s a corporation or a public sector organization. They also need investors, expertise, and team members. We have a lot of fantastic incubators in different cities across Sweden that can support them in their business development. We must join forces so that these startups can scale up their innovations. This is why I get up in the morning, to work with impact and to take real action.”

Maria hopes that participants to the conference, whether they represent a startup, a corporation, a public sector organization, or an investor, will gain valuable insights into existing collaborations. She aims for them to recognize opportunities to join forces, contributing to ongoing initiatives or initiating new ones, thereby creating a meaningful impact.

“You will learn from processes and methods. Additionally, you’ll gain insights into new innovations from startups and existing techniques. Being brave and taking action is essential. Look around to see what’s already happening before trying to reinvent the wheel. So, before innovating in-house, open your eyes a little bit more,” she says.

Inspired by the Stories on Stage and the Energy of the Audience

This is the fourth time Maria will moderate the Ignite Sweden Summit. As the event’s host, Maria aims to inspire and create energy among the people attending the conference.

“I love the energy of the audience because the people at the Summit are genuinely engaged. They want to take action and make a difference. So, hopefully, we can create even more. I also love hearing the stories and seeing the glitter in the air and in the eyes of the speakers on stage when they share their stories.”

Finally, Maria’s call to action for the Summit’s participants is to keep an open eye for collaborations beyond the usual ones.

“Embrace that openness and innovative thinking in unexpected meetings and take the opportunity to talk to people you haven’t spoken to before,” she concludes.

Maria Olofsson at Ignite Sweden Summit 2019

Ignite Sweden Summit will take place at Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm on November 27. Check out the full program here. Tickets are now sold out.

In the financial news segment on TV4, Stina Lantz, Interim CEO of SISP – Swedish Incubators & Science Parks and Ignite Sweden’s Program Manager, discuss the challenging situation faced by startup companies in finding risk capital.

“We’ve observed among our entrepreneurs nationwide that it is very challenging, both in the early stages, to find the initial risk capital, but also in the later stages, even more challenging to find the necessary capital to scale up,” says Stina.

Factors such as a weak currency and the global economic environment are causing investors to adopt a more cautious approach, making safer and short-term investments. Stina emphasizes that investors are keeping their money inactive and hesitating to make changes to their existing investments at the moment.

SISP – Swedish Incubators and Science Parks estimates about half of the approximately 7,000 startup companies in Sweden are facing extremely tough conditions. Access to risk capital is essential for the growth and global influence of Sweden’s export-oriented businesses.

“Without access to risk capital, there’s a risk that we won’t have any new export-oriented companies that uplift Sweden internationally in 5-10 years,” says Stina.

The segment also featured Jenny Keisu, CEO of X Shore, who acknowledges the formidable challenge of securing capital, even for well-functioning companies near profitability with active production customers, such as her own.

“The world’s green transition demands substantial investments in hardware—new vehicles, new infrastructure, new technology. It is precisely in these areas, most affected, that we could shape Sweden’s next industry and secure prosperity for generations to come,” she concludes.

Click here to watch the full segment (in Swedish)

Meet CommuteSaver’s CEO, Martin Walian, as he shares his journey developing a new solution to track and reduce CO2 emissions caused by commuting.

During the global conference Sweden Innovation Days, Ignite Sweden hosted a series of Founder Sessions. These fireside chats were moderated by our Process Developer, Maria Olofsson, and focused on presenting inspiring stories about impact startups with innovative solutions that address sustainable societal challenges.

At the last interview in this series, CEO Martin Walian of CommuteSaver shares his entrepreneurial journey.

CommuteSaver offers a completely digital solution, including an automated CO2 tracking app designed for employee commuting. Using AI, the mobile app detects the user’s mode of transportation (such as bicycle, public transport, car, etc.), tracks the associated CO2 emissions, and reports this data to the company, alongside recommendations for reducing emissions. In addition to this, the app includes features such as scoreboards, achievements, and other incentives aimed at encouraging employees to reduce their carbon footprint.

During the session, you can also learn more about their collaboration with Microsoft, which they met last year through our initiative.

Learn more about Cellfion, the first company working towards the commercialization of biobased membranes with no toxic substances, through their CEO and co-founder, Liam Hardey.

At the global conference Sweden Innovation Days 2023, Ignite Sweden organized two Founder Sessions to showcase the inspiring stories of Swedish impact startups that are working towards solving our society’s most significant challenges. These fireside chats were moderated by Ignite Sweden’s Process Developer, Maria Olofsson.

The first of this series of interviews features Cellfion’s CEO and co-founder Liam Hardey, as he shares his entrepreneurial journey.

LEAD incubator startup Cellfion is the first company to commercialize biobased membranes that contain no toxic substances, such as PFAS. Their innovation has the potential to increase the overall efficiency of energy storage and conversion technologies when scaled up, making them accessible to all and facilitating the green energy transition.

The deeptech startup is a spin-off from Linköping University and the Royal Institute of Technology. The idea behind their innovation can be traced back to research that began in 2005. They began researching the technology’s market potential three years ago, and in 2021 they founded the company to focus on it. The company has grown to seven employees and is looking to expand further.

Cellfion is one of the 420 environmental startups and scaleups featured on the Swedish Climate Startup Map.

Our Program Manager joined the latest episode of the podcast to discuss how the current turbulent economy impacts Swedish startups.

Many economic forecasts indicate that Sweden is heading towards a recession in the upcoming months. But how will the turbulent economy impact innovation and the current green transition? The newest episode of Vinnova’s podcast “Innovation”, dived into this topic and featured SISP’s VP and Ignite Sweden’s Program Manager, Stina Lantz, along with Sylvia Schwaag Serger (Lund University) and Göran Marklund (Vinnova).

According to Stina there are many different ways that Swedish startups are affected by these turbulent times but those within deeptech are especially impacted.

“During the pandemic, we observed that digital startups overcame the difficulties almost immediately, while it was a lot harder for deeptech startups with science-based climate solutions,” says Stina.

She indicates that one of the biggest challenges for deeptech startups is accessing customers.

“For these innovative companies, not being able to validate their solution with customers in an early stage can make the rest of their journey very tough,” explains Stina.

As a consequence of this, many startups had to put their plans for market entry and new recruitments on hold.

“We need to help startups, not only with capital but also by offering them the chance to validate their solutions with potential customers. Then the companies clearly need access to customers. Sweden procures 800 billion SEK annually. Only a very small amount of those millions go to innovative startups,” concludes Stina.

Click here to listen to the full conversation (in Swedish)

Susanne Fuglsang will be responsible for creating cross-sectional learning and innovation spaces for our members and stakeholders.

“My belief is that we will be able to strengthen each other in new and hybrid formats where the focus will be on sharing learnings and taking actions to enhance all stakeholders’ innovation capabilities and joint efforts,” explains Susanne.

Susanne thinks that one of the most exciting parts of her new role is to be able to work and learn from so many amazing colleagues.

“It feels like a perfect match for my ambition to make a contribution in a broader context where all stakeholders and team members have the same passion to develop the Swedish innovation ecosystem,” she adds.

A True Innovation Contributor

Before joining our team, Susanne worked as Innovation Catalyst and CEO at the member-financed learning platform Innovation Pioneers. During her 4 years at the initiative, she facilitated and curated Sweden’s largest network of innovation leaders from over 40 companies, organizations, government agencies, academia and research with a shared goal to learn collectively to build innovation capabilities through joint development.

“In my previous work, I have gained extensive experience in the strategy and production of interdisciplinary co-creation processes like hackathons, design sprints and innovation events,” she shares.

She is also a contributor to the tech and startup communities with a special passion to inspire and empower women of all ages to educate themselves and engage in tech.

Susanne believes in a lifelong learning mindset and an example of that is the latest course (MOOC – Massive Open Online Course) she enrolled in called “Learn how to learn”, which shows the fact that we need to unlearn as much as we need to learn.

She also thinks that in these urgent times of transformation to save our planet, we need to collaborate on all levels to create the change that needs to take place towards a more sustainable future.

“With a planet-first focus, we need a systemic change and for that to happen we need new ways to approach our joint challenges. Through collaborations on a systemic level and with an inclusive and diverse approach, I believe we will be able to create the change we need faster,” she concludes.

Welcome to our team, Susanne!

Michell Hanna is responsible for giving support to our team in everything related to tech, with a special focus on data analytics and visualization.

“It feels great to be a part of Ignite Sweden and SISP Swedish Incubators & Science Parks. It is probably the most down-to-earth and welcoming organization I have ever been a part of,” says Michell.

He defines our initiative as a mission-driven non-profit organization that really lives up to its name. “What I like the most is working with a lot of intelligent people who have the common goal of making the Swedish Innovation System thrive,” he adds.

His Entrepreneurial Journey

Michell is currently in the fourth year of civil engineering at Örebro University. His area of expertise is industrial engineering and management.

Together with two friends from university, he runs a recruitment tech company called Essentiq that helps recruiters save time by providing fast and cost-effective candidate search.

“I started Essentiq in early 2020. This is actually my third entrepreneurial endeavor and it has been the one that has impacted me the most as a person and an entrepreneur. It has been a great journey between the three founders. We have learned a lot about business, life and teamwork,” he explains.

His company is now in the process of hiring three consultants. “This has always been one of my goals, to create jobs for people. Our journey has been a rough road, but considering that we are three co-founders with the same challenges, tackling those challenges has been a breeze.”

Michell thinks that working for Ignite has also helped him a lot in his entrepreneurial journey.

“I have learned a lot about how Sweden’s infrastructure for entrepreneurs works and how both startups and corporations think. SISP as an employer encourages entrepreneurial endeavors which have been a great thing for me,” shares Michell.

Behind the Scenes at our Digital Matchmakings

Michell was one of the tech experts behind the scenes during the matchmaking sessions held at Sweden Innovation Days, where 79 leading international corporations met 248 startups from 10 countries in nearly 500 curated matchmaking meetings.

“I absolutely loved how it all turned out. I was mostly in the background, securing that the sessions went smoothly. I got to see the team work like there was no tomorrow and I really enjoyed it. We did everything we could to make sure both the startups and the corporations had good, productive meetings where they could find synergies and create magic,” says Michell.

After his experience in these sessions, he will now be our “Zoom Master” in most of the matchmaking events we hold during the spring.

“I look forward to the upcoming matchmaking events. I see all the hard work the team is doing in the preparation and I am eager to be one of the people that will realize their work on the matchmaking days. The most amazing part about it is that a few mouse clicks on a digital matchmaking can lead to big collaborations and deals,” he concludes.

Welcome to the team, Michell!

Stina talked about building a national platform for startup commercialization and shared her experiences within the Swedish innovation ecosystem at this session held during Sweden Innovation Days 2022.

How can you build a national platform for startup commercialization and why should you do it? Stina Lintz, Vice President at SISP Swedish Incubators & Science Parks and Program Manager for Ignite Sweden, took to the stage at Sweden Innovation Days for a fantastic fireside chat to answer this question.

Moderated by Vinnova’s Chief Strategy Officer International Collaboration, Regina Summer, Stina also shared her experiences within Sweden’s innovation ecosystem, highlighted the importance of utilizing research and explained why it takes a country to raise unicorns.

Watch the session

We continue to introduce the new colleagues that have recently joined the Ignite & SISP team. Linn Sidahl is a true startup collaboration enthusiast that will be responsible for taking our matchmakings to new heights.

“My focus will be mostly on our international matchmaking and initiatives, but also the national events. I will also try to share my experience from startup-enterprise collaboration, both with startups and corporations,” explains Linn.

Linn is not completely new to Ignite as she has been involved in different activities from a startup perspective over the last three years.

“I’m so excited to learn about the work that is going on behind the scenes and to be part of creating all these business opportunities. It feels amazing to be part of such a driven team,” she affirms.

Nearly 30 Startup Matchmaking Participations

Before joining Ignite & SISP, Linn was Head of Business Development at Ekkono Solutions, one of the first Swedish startups to join our program.

“I was responsible for expanding Ekkono into new geographical regions and new industrial verticals. I also had the main responsibility for all the Ignite matchmaking events that Ekkono took part. If I recall correctly, I participated in almost 30 matchmakings during my time at Ekkono,” says Linn.

It was in the first matchmaking event held by Ignite in April 2017 where Ekkono met its very first corporate customer, Alfa Laval.

“Ekkono and Alfa Laval are still working closely together and have done several pilots until this date,” shares Linn.

Linn Sidahl

Business Opportunities Crucial for Startup Success

According to Linn, Ignite is an opportunity maker that delivers value for startups, enterprises and the Swedish Innovation ecosystem.

“Startup-enterprise collaboration is a win-win not only for the startups but also for the established companies. Whilst the startups get the chance to verify and test their products and services with a market leader, the corporates get access to the latest technology,” she explains.

Startups often lack the contacts, context and visibility that it takes to get a foot in the door at big companies. Linn thinks that these innovative companies should join our program as it offers them a unique opportunity to get first-hand access to key people at big corporations both nationally and internationally.

“This is their chance to expand their customer base into new verticals or geographical regions, and of course to add big market-leading companies to their customer list (also known as the “brag list” if you are a startup!). Ignite manages to get the right people involved from the corporates and public organizations. I honestly don’t think there is any other startup initiative that serves them with as many business opportunities as Ignite,” she concludes.

Welcome to the team, Linn!

Sweden Innovation Days showcased a huge variety of interviews, panel discussions, and case studies from many perspectives.
During the event, Ignite Sweden arranged three fantastic Founders Sessions to share the inspiring stories behind Swedish impact startups working towards solving our society’s biggest challenges. These fireside chats were moderated by our Head of Startup Relations, Cathrin Johansson.

Founders Session with Surfcleaner

SurfCleaner makes a positive impact on our environment by developing a patented technology that can efficiently clean up oil spills and litter from the ocean.

Their founder, Christina Lundbäck, shares her inspiring story of taking her father’s invention from the 1990’s and turning it into innovative technology aimed at cleaning our oceans nearly three decades later.

Founders Session with Thermaiscan

Thermaiscan aims to help early detection of this disease with the use of AI, thermal technology and smartphones. Their solution allows women all over the world to detect cancer earlier without the need for a specialist.

Their co-founder, Katarina Dalunde Eriksson, shares her personal and entrepreneurial journey. After suffering from cancer herself, she wanted to do something with a great impact that can help people to survive cancer. Her startup’s solution that can detect breast cancer in a very early stage will soon be tested in India and Singapore.

Founders Session with Thermaiscan

WA3RM develops regenerative and circular businesses based on industrial waste streams, making a direct impact on the environment.

Listen to their founder Thomas Parker when he shares his entrepreneurial journey. Learn how his startup is working with low grade waste heat to help industrial partners ensure a more sustainable future.