NyTeknik magazine lists the 33 top start-ups in Sweden, shows an interest in forest-related innovation

The “33-listan” is published by Ny Teknik, a Swedish language science and engineering magazine. Each year they highlight 33 promising innovation-focussed start-up companies, which must be based in Sweden and have been founded less than seven years ago. The 2023 list showed a big emphasis on forest-related companies in the Swedish start-up scene.

The publication of Ny Teknik’s annual 33-listan is a highly anticipated moment in the research and innovation communities. The list offers valuable recognition for promising new start-up companies, which often have a connection or affiliation to a Swedish university. The list also highlights trends in the overall start-up scene, pointing at the directions that industry, research, and investors are working in. For 2023, we are gratified to note a strong representation on the list of companies working with sustainable innovation and circular economy topics, in areas such as materials and energy. In particular, there is a focus on companies that aim to find new ways to use forest waste and to innovate in how wood or wood components can be used.

Specifically, the WWSC-affiliated companies Reselo and LignaEnergy both feature on the list for the first time this year.

Reselo is creating new rubber-like materials using compounds extracted from birch bark, a process that was first developed by company co-founder Thomas Baumgarten while working as a WWSC-supported postdoctoral scholar at KTH in Stockholm. Reselo hit several important milestones in 2023, including finding investment, expanding the team of employees, securing customer relationships, and producing the first pair of shoes made with Reselo rubber!

Ligna Energy are based in Norrköping and are a spin-off from the ‘Laboratory of Organic Electronics’ (LOE) at Linköping University. The company still has ongoing collaborations with LOE as they create sustainable supercapacitors built from waste from forest industries. Also in 2023, Ligna Energy won the Norrköping Tech Award, secured significant investment, and launched a new energy storage component that can power IoT-connected devices.

In addition to these WWSC-spinoffs, several other companies of interest to the circular economy and forest industry were featured on the 2023 33-listan, such as Blue Ocean Closures, Modvion, Nano Textile Solutions, and Papershell.

To acknowledge the strong forest focus of the list, Ny Teknik interviewed the Director of the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre, Prof Eva Malmström Jonsson, who offered insight on the trend. In the interview, Eva explains why she thinks so many forest-related start-ups are showing up in recent years. She explains why wood is such an amazing material, full of promise for the development of new materials and energy technologies, but that such technologies must be carefully researched to make sure they are truly sustainable, for example to avoid the use of harmful solvents or wasteful processing steps. Eva also points out that the giants of the forest industry, who have unparalleled knowledge of the raw material and how to process it, are often not the organisations best placed to develop completely new products, since this requires an agile and innovative team to create new market opportunities for low-volume production. The founding of research-based start-up companies is therefore key to commercialisation of new research findings coming from the WWSC and similar centres such as Bioinnovation.

You can read the whole 33-listan article on the Ny Teknik website, which is written in Swedish. A subscription to the magazine is required: https://www.nyteknik.se/33-listan.

Image taken from Ny Teknik’s online article about the 33-listan.

Text by Lauren McKee, KTH