Cooperation creates growth for SMEs

Sustainable Innovation is one of KTH’s partners in the project Grön BoStad Stockholm [Green Housing Stockholm]. The project aims to contribute to sustainable urban development and to create growth in small and medium-sized enterprises.

Housing construction in Stockholm needs to increase considerably. Older buildings need to be renovated and temporary housing is needed for new arrivals. All of this should be achieved in a cost-effective, climate-friendly, energy-efficient and socially sustainable way.

This is where Grön BoStad enters the picture. The cooperation project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. KTH Royal Institute of Technology is the project administrator and in charge of the subproject knowledge.

Sustainable Innovation leads the procurement part of Grön BoStad. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is in charge of the subproject test beds, and Stockholm County Board is in charge of the arena, a meeting place for the various parties.

The objective of Sustainable Innovation is to help customers and companies meet. They cooperate with SABO, the Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies, and their purchase operations HBV.

– We try to encourage customers to become more interested in innovation procurement and small and medium-sized enterprises to want and to be able to participate in a tender, says Thomas Sundén, CEO of Sustainable Innovation.

The first tender concerns solar power.

– We use a new, a little more flexible alternative to a framework agreement. We try to encourage municipal companies to buy solar power and provide support in several stages up to the finished solar power installation. A web application helps the housing company make the right choices and creates complete technical files to add to the tender.

KTH contributes knowledge from various research projects and quality assures the innovations.

– With solar power, there is an obvious connection to research. But there are other areas with an even stronger connection to academia, says Thomas Sundén.

One example is supplementary buildings. For example, when so-called Million Programme areas are renovated, it can be tricky to improve accessibility and safety in laundry rooms. Sometimes it is easier to move the laundry room out in the yard.

– We have produced a prefabricated model for a building that can be placed in the yard. This frees up space that can be used for housing. The building is energy efficient and climate-smart and at the same time it is more aerated and pleasant to do laundry there, says Thomas Sundén.

In the prefab project, they have looked at research from KTH and included a KTH construction technology student who was working on his master thesis. Thomas Sundén would like to see more PhD students work part-time at KTH and part-time at Sustainable Innovation.

– The research is directly related to our project. We have tested this model and the outcome was so good that we want to use it more extensively.

Test beds for which IVL is responsible and facilities in the residential areas where the products can be tested ensure that housing companies can be certain that various innovative products actually work. IVL is responsible for the test beds.

– It can be rather a fast turnover, instead of, as is the case now, taking several years to realize an idea, says Thomas Sundén.

He believes cooperating with KTH entails many advantages.

– It means we can introduce innovations in the market that achieve environmental targets while they also improve our members’ businesses. We also have a much improved interface and understanding of ongoing research in the area of community building. KTH has updated a model where we can see the areas where there is research and by whom it is conducted. At the same time, research gets closer to business via us; unfortunately, there is a gap, but it can be overcome.

During the renovation of The Workers Housing Fund’s neighborhood Lampan in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sustainable Innovation studied how to streamline deliveries of materials while at the same time creating entrances more easily for new arrivals and offloading craftsmen. A good example of something that is cost effective and socially sustainable, according to Thomas Sundén, CEO of Sustainable Innovation.

About Sustainable Innovation

Sustainable Innovation is a non-profit, member-owned operation that introduces sustainable community building innovations in the market in Sweden and internationally. Out of around thirty projects, most involve cooperation with academia. They focus on industrial research leading to market introduction.

Text: Ann Patmalnieks
Photographer: Fredrik Persson