Ignite Stories: Uppsala Municipality

Discover how Uppsala is collaborating with startups that have been matched through Ignite Sweden, along with its local innovation ecosystem, to achieve its climate-neutral vision by 2030.

Uppsala Municipality has set its sights on becoming not just climate neutral but climate positive by 2030. To achieve this ambitious goal, collaboration and innovation have become the cornerstones of Uppsala Municipality’s approach.

This collaborative approach combines the strengths of Uppsala’s startup sector, universities, and the municipality’s innovation system to address complex challenges effectively.

Mayor Erik Pelling recognizes the transformative potential of startups: “Startups are really important for us. Through them, we get access to new technology, new ideas, and new innovations. We see them as part of the municipality, as our own R&D department.”

“We collaborate very closely with our colleagues within the innovation support system. We have colleagues talking about innovation, sustainability, and how they can work together with startups based on our challenges,” says Annika Remaeus, Head of Unit Business & Development at Uppsala Municipality.

Annika_Remaeus (Uppsala Municipality)

Connecting Startups with Uppsala’s Challenges

Through a fruitful partnership with Ignite Sweden, an initiative that connects startups with public sector needs, Uppsala is driving sustainable solutions, scaling up successful pilots, and inspiring other municipalities to join the movement.

By matching startups with the specific needs of the public sector, Ignite Sweden enables Uppsala to harness fresh perspectives and cutting-edge solutions to tackle sustainability challenges. 

According to Ignite Sweden’s Innovation Process Leader, Marit Finch Westin, the aim of the matchmakings between startups and public organizations is to enable the testing of innovative solutions through pilot projects. These pilot projects serve as strategic tools that foster innovation and facilitate active collaboration between the public sector and startups.

“The process begins by identifying the challenges and then building upon them. It also provides valuable insights into internal innovation processes and encourages the organization to be more flexible and agile. This approach provides a starting point to initiate small-scale operational activities that can later be scaled up,” explains Marit.

Portrait Marit Finch Westin
Marit Finch Westin (Ignite Sweden)

“We have worked with Ignite Sweden for more than four years. During this time, we have matched over 100 challenges and started numerous pilot projects that are now scaling and growing within the organization,” says Annika.

The Tvinn Case

One standout collaboration between Uppsala Municipality and a startup is the Tvinn case. Uppsala faced a pressing challenge concerning electricity capacity, which threatened the city’s sustainable growth.

“A few years ago, we realized we had a problem: the electricity would not be enough for the city to grow. We needed a number of technical solutions to fix this. Ignite Sweden helped us formulate a challenge that could be met by startups,” explains Linnea Nedar, Development Leader at the Municipality’s Sustainability Department.

With the support of Ignite Sweden, the municipality was matched with Tvinn (now called Recap Power), an Uppsala-based startup specializing in smart energy solutions.

Tvinn’s founder and CEO, Jonas Thyni, explains how their innovative approach could be applicable to Uppsala’s challenge.

“We had a solution for this that consisted of the possibility to create flexibility by monitoring and controlling different energy resources from different facilities, for example, heating pumps. This solution allowed them to reduce consumption at certain times when the grid had problems with capacity.”

Jonas Thyni (Tvinn) together with Annika Remaeus and Johan Rosén (Uppsala Municipality) with the Ignite Sustainability Heroes Award 2021 they won for their collaboration

Scaling Up for Widespread Impact

Scaling up the successful pilots is a crucial step in Uppsala’s journey towards a sustainable future. By embracing collaboration and nurturing a culture of innovation, Uppsala Municipality is shaping a sustainable future not just for their city but for municipalities worldwide.

“We share challenges with a lot of other municipalities and cities, both in Sweden and around the world. We currently work with cities in Sweden to see if we can scale their solutions in our organization. We don’t know if we have exported any of our pilots and developments yet, but I definitely believe that there is significant potential for scaling,” recognizes Annika Remaeus.

Marit Finch Westin stresses the importance of sharing experiences with other municipalities and organizations facing similar challenges.

“Scaling is really important as numerous municipalities and organizations share similar needs. There is no need to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. Working together, sharing experiences and learning from each other is really important,” concludes Marit.

Watch Annika_Remaeus (Uppsala Municipality) and Marit Finch Westin (Ignite Sweden) talk about their collaboration at Sweden Innovations Days 2023

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