Solved collaboration platform and Helsinki Business Hub have created a new model of integrating and exporting Finnish cleantech expertise. The platform has already brought together Finnish startups and companies, who are currently creating smart mobility concepts for the cities of Tartu, Estonia and Irvine, California.
How to find new global business opportunities for Finnish companies? This is something that Miska Hakala, Director of Business Platform Development at Helsinki Business Hub, thinks about daily. To find fresh answers to the question, he turned to Solved, a Finnish cleantech advisory service and collaboration platform. Solved aims to bring together the best cleantech experts to tackle the world’s environmental challenges. Launched as Cleantech Finland’s online service in 2012, Solved soon became an independent company with offices in Helsinki, Bratislava and Oulu.
“Our online community currently consists of some 3,000 experts from 70 countries and is quickly expanding. As a company, Solved brings together top experts and gets a commission of their fees, but occasionally also contributes its own expertise to projects,” CEO Santtu Hulkkonen from Solved explains.
“These kinds of collaboration platforms can speed up the processes of finding potential business cases, solution providers, partners, and clients – as well as solutions. This is important, particularly for startups in a small country like Finland,” Miska Hakala says.
Solved and Helsinki Business Hub wanted to bring Finnish companies into direct dialogue with global end-customers to enable the quick cocreation of new concepts. They started with two smart mobility cases, one in Tartu, Estonia, and another in Irvine, California.
Tartu: Traffic flow data enables smarter mobility
The City of Tartu in Estonia is leveraging the Solved platform to find and develop new smart mobility concepts enabled by better utilization of traffic flow data. The initial goal was to find the solutions needed for collecting and visualizing traffic data and using it to model traffic flows. Finnish research and consultancy company FLOU specializes in mobility services and urban planning and was tasked with finding suitable companies and technologies.
“We brought the chosen companies and the city of Tartu together in workshops and gave the city recommendations on how to improve its traffic data management to better support the development of a sustainable transportation system. The Solved platform is a great tool for finding the right experts for projects, and it’s particularly suited for collaboration built on expert networks and agile team building,” says Managing Director Taina Haapamäki from FLOU.
After the actual project, some of the participating companies have moved on to business and pilot negotiations with the city of Tartu. One of them is MOPRIM, a Finnish company that develops artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that enable advanced movement recognition of people and vehicles.
“We offered the city our solution, which enables traffic mode detection through smartphones, collects this data in a cloud and passes it on to the city. We have now signed an agreement on a pilot project. The Solved platform allowed us to network with other experts and brought us a new client, so it has worked very well for us. It also lowers the threshold of participating in projects,” says Hannu Anttila, VP, Sales & Business Development at MOPRIM.
“This project has benefited the city in many ways. We acquired new knowledge and contacts, found new pilot ideas and have already launched one pilot project. The collaboration platform is a very good way to develop new solutions,” says Project Manager Jaanus Tamm from the Tartu city government.
In addition to MOPRIM and FLOU, other companies participating on the Tartu concept included ClearMove, Code Verde, HERE Technologies, Nodeon, Infotripla, ITS Oulu, Traficon, and Vaisala.
Irvine: A smart mobility solution can be built piece by piece
The city of Irvine in California wanted to find a new business model for a car share program at the Irvine Train Station while looking into the possibility of implementing new technology. The new solution would help the city meet its current and future mobility demands.
The Solved network team started by assessing the city’s previous car share program, looking for a solution that could include e.g. upgrading the existing e-charging infrastructure, upgrading the existing iShuttle buses to demand-responsive capability, integrating hybrid or electric buses – like the Linkker service currently tested in Helsinki, and integrating a shared electric bike system, all connected via a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) application.
The core of the proposal consists of a small group of companies and their solutions, which link together to form a larger integrated solution. The concept can be developed and implemented gradually, with different solution providers contributing at different stages. Information on the concept has already been distributed to several cities in the United States.
One of the companies behind the concept is Kyyti, a Finnish company that has developed a MaaS solution with on-demand capabilities for shared taxis and minibuses, bringing responsiveness to the Irvine proposal. Responsiveness means that the mobility service adjusts dynamically to changing passenger demands e.g. during rush hour or at night. Furthermore, Kyyti’s MaaS application would enable paying for an electric car or parking, checking out an e-bike, checking schedules and buying train tickets, giving automatic discounts for the disabled, and more, without having to search for the information and services through various websites.
“The city of Irvine already has the infrastructure and quite a few pieces that could be integrated into this solution, so hopefully it will grasp this opportunity,” says Senior Researcher Eric Bruun from Kyyti.
“For these kinds of business cases, somebody needs to be the first, then it will become routine. Funding for smart public transportation solutions is more difficult to come up with than funding for smart road traffic solutions. Crowdfunding can be an effective way to solve the initial funding challenges,” Bruun continues.
And indeed, the Irvine concept includes a Finnish crowdfunding company, Joukon Voima. Its service could collect the capital needed for the smart mobility concept and engage future users, who would get to use the service for a lower price in return for their investment.
“Without the Solved collaboration platform, we would not be in business negotiations with a city in California. Virtual meetings save travel costs and coordination efforts. The platform is an excellent source of potential crowdfunding projects,” says Managing Director Jukka Kajan from Joukon Voima.
Other companies participating in the Irvine concept include Vinka, Virta and Linkker.