Experts say Swedish startups can be role models for a sustainable future

Fyrbild: Rebecka Töreman, IKEA, Olof König, Baker McKenzie, Karin Wessman, EKN and Alexandra Razola, H&M Group. Photo: Camilla Svensk/Tommy Fondelius.

Swedish startups have massive potential to lead the world toward a smart, green and sustainable future. Experts say global corporations and investors are also searching for new solutions and innovation to make a real impact in the fight against climate change.

Four business leaders from various sectors in Sweden discussed some of these ideas in front of a packed crowd of entrepreneurs at Techarenan Summit 2022. This took place during the panel discussion “Sweden; A Global Role Model in Sustainability.”

The panel included IKEA Home Smart Business Leader Rebecca Töreman, Baker McKenzie Partner Olof König, EKN Head of Sustainability at the Swedish Export Credit Agency Karin Wessman, and H&M Group Head of Circular Incubation Alexandra Razola.

The making of a better connected and sustainable society

IKEA Home Smart Business Leader Rebecca Töreman described how the company launched smart lighting and began combining their digital and physical products in 2016. Home Smart involves connected light sources, smart blinds, and speakers.

IKEA has a goal to impact one billion people around the world by 2030. The company is aiming to become circular and climate positive, and regenerate resources. Last year, IKEA phased out all non-rechargeable alkaline batteries and replaced them with their new LADDA rechargeable batteries.

“From a smart homes perspective, I think loads of things will happen,” Töreman said. “It’s a pretty new field, people are still exploring what it can do, interests are on the rise, and there are more and more solutions coming.”

Rebecca Töreman, Business Leader, IKEA Home Smart. Photo: Camilla Svensk.

Baker McKenzie Partner Olof König highlighted how we must focus not only on the environment, but also our place in society.

“ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is one of the key focus areas that companies will really need to take hold of, and embed their personality and corporate culture into,” König said. “It will really be essential for companies to survive in new global markets.”

Olof König, Partner, Baker McKenzie. Photo: Camilla Svensk.

“Taking a stand and being bold enough when it becomes difficult”

König said being a role model is also taking a stand and being bold enough when it becomes difficult to stay in a market, even if it has a significant cost and takes significant time.

Another company trying to put its mark on the sustainability front in Sweden and across the world is H&M — specifically in the retail space.

“I think absolutely we want to take that responsibility within the industry, also seeing the full value chain of what is needed,” Razola said. “I think with the scale we have, we can make a big difference, not only for our company, but for the industry as a whole.”

Alexandra Razola, Head of Circular Incubation, H&M Group. Photo: Camilla Svensk.

Razola’s team at H&M is developing sustainable solutions and innovation within circular business models, based on customer behaviors. She emphasized the necessity of a future big shift, and said there are a lot of brilliant minds at work trying to figure out how to make the transition happen.

The Swedish Export Credit Agency, EKN, has plans in place to help startups and entrepreneurs with the push to sustainability.

“We work with everybody, from the smallest to the largest,” Wessman said. “It becomes veery important to understand sustainability, the risk and impact.”

Karin Wessman, Head of Sustainability at EKN. Photo: Tommy Fondelius.

Last fall, EKN launched “green guarantees” which facilitates financing for companies that contribute to the climate transition and want to export their products and services.

You can watch the full panel by clicking here.

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