Nordic and Japanese Cleantech Solutions: Pitch Showcase (event report)

Nordic Innovation House Tokyo
10 min readNov 17, 2020

<Welcome to our First Pitching Event!>

Nordic Innovation House Tokyo’s(NIH-TYO) first pitching event, Nordic & Japanese CleanTech Solutions: Pitch Showcase, was held on Monday, November 2nd, in partnership with Osaka Innovation Hub (OIH) and GVH#5. Couple of weeks prior to this event, Japanese Prime Minister Suga announced that Japan will reduce greenhouse-gas emission to net zero by 2050, and cleantech was rapidly becoming a hot issue in the media. Now that Japan officially shares the same goal with the EU, it is clear that there will be a growing interest towards relevant technologies and solutions, which means a wide opportunity for the Nordic cleantech startups to seek for collaboration with Japanese companies. 87 participants were present, mainly representatives from well established Japanese companies, in or interested in the cleantech industry.

<Summary of the Event>

17:00: Intro & Opening remarks

The virtual event kicked off with an introduction and presentation by each of the three hosting organisations, NIH-TYO, OIH, and GVH#5.

Niklas Karvonen, Community Director of NIH-TYO:

“Inaugurated in May 2020, NIH-TYO is a Pan-Nordic organization, aiming at “scaling the best of the Nordics”. Nordic Innovation House is present in Silicon Valley, NY, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo is our 5th location. The Nordic states all have a very healthy startup ecosystem, with 23 unicorns in the region (making the per capita rate second to Silicon Valley), highest density of scale ups in Europe, and 90% of university students feeling culturally accepted in becoming an entrepreneur. Investment from Japan to the Nordics is a rapidly growing trend (21 cases in 2019), and the trend is obvious even under the Corona situation.

Mayumi Ishitobi, OIH:

OIH is a startup community founded in2013 by Osaka City, giving a variety of assistance to startup businesses. Osaka has been active in inviting foreign startups to the city, for example, hosting the annual international conference HACK Osaka since 2013. More recently from spring 2020 the city offers startup visas, making it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to start and process their business in Osaka. In addition, in July 2020, Osaka, together with neighboring Kyoto and Kobe City, was designated as a Global Startup City, along with three other cities/regions nationwide, to establish and enhance a functional startup ecosystem in the region. ”

“As the city is preparing for Osaka World Expo 2025 -designing the future society of our lives- , it is becoming even a more livable city. ”

Natsuko Takada, GVH#5:

GVH#5 is a membership based workplace run by Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc. a real estate and railway company based in Osaka. providing soft and hard assistance for investors, university personals, and entrepreneurs. We are collaborating with Rainmaking Innovation for organizing Startupbootcamp Scale Osaka (program starting this month, final demo in February 2021). GVH#5 is also a part of Hack Osaka 2021 (virtual).”

17:20: Pitching

Six pitching companies came on stage, three from the Nordics and three from Japan. Each company had 10mins including a Q&A session. Below are the summaries of each pitch in order of appearance.

1. Bergen Carbon Solutions (BCS, Norway) Jan B.Sagmo, CEO

“We, Bergen Carbon Solutions, a member company of NIH-TYO, is a manufacturer and supplier of carbon nanofiber (CNF) using CO2. We are tackling the problem of the 38 billion tonnes of CO2 produced each year around the world, being one of the major factors of global warming. The solution we provide is to use those CO2 as raw material to produce CNF, only leaving oxygen gas behind.”

“BCS’s facility is a module based production plant, making it possible to expand or diminish the plant volume easily. For example, two 40ft containers with two reactors will have a capacity of collecting 60 tonnes of CO2 and producing 12 tonnes of CNF. ”

“The CNF market volume is estimated to be around 420 million USD in 2020, and it is to grow three times by 2024. It is a cutting edge material that is 100 times stronger than steel, lighter than plastic, and conducts electricity better than copper. It can be applied to many industries. For example, if you use CNF as a material and reduce 10kg weight from each car, CO2 emission will be reduced 1g per each kilometer it drives. That will be quite an impact if you think of the number of cars existing in the world.”

“Main competitors are in Asia and the US. The biggest competitor currently is LG Chem of Korea, but there are no other players in the market other than us that produce CNF from CO2. We have our production site at Bergen, Norway, and we aim to be the leader of green CNF manufacturer and supplier by 2022. ”

Q: What is the timeline you have in mind for the next steps?

A: At the moment we are in a funding round process of 4–7 million euros, and aim to start building our first updated production unit by January 2021 and complete it by Q2 2021. The current production capacity is 2–5kg of CNF per week, but we aim to achieve 10–20 kg per week.

Q: What is BCS’s originality compared to other competitors?

A: Our originality is that we produce CNF from CO2. We are making our product and our customer’s product more green.

Q: What is your revenue model?

A: We make revenue by producing and selling CNF worldwide.

2. Compact Carbon Capture (CCC, Norway) Torleif Madsen, CEO

“CCC was established in 2018, and is originally a project initiated by a Norwegian oil company since 2008. The main development is led by Fjell Technology Group, familiar in the Japanese fisheries industry with its protein extraction technology.”

“Our technology is similar to that of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries or other similar players, but the difference is that we use High G forces to distribute the solvents, enabling us to build the absorber much compact and light in weight (75% reduction in size, 50% reduction of CAPEX, module based flexibility, and opex and effectiveness).”

“We are looking into applying our technology on ships (pre feasibility test to be completed this month, and potential demo in 2022, market readiness in 2023). “

Q: Who are your main competitors?

A: The CO2 handling market is increasing so there are new technologies coming in, but for now Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and similar big companies who have been in business for years are our main competitors.

Q: How much margin do you get per unit?

A: Depends case by case. The cost per ton will depend on how dense the CO2 emission is.If the CO2 concentration is thin, we need more equipment to capture CO2 so the margin will be lower than those of more dense sites.

Q: What is your impact on society?

A: Our impact on society is that we contribute to stop global warming by preventing CO2 from entering into the atmosphere.

3. Greenbyte (Sweden) Jonas Corné, CEO

“Our mission is to be the best software platform to optimize renewable energy production.”

“Currently, only 30% of our electricity comes from renewable sources, however by 2050 the rate will increase to 68% (IEA prediction), meaning that we will be more dependent on natural conduction to put our lights on. We aim to collect datas from energy plants, weather forecasts, and put them together in order for our customers to produce as much energy as possible, and also to generate their revenue as much as possible.At the moment, 35GW wind and solar energy is installed on Greenbyte (3% of the world’s produce wind and solar energy). ”

Japan is a super interesting market because it is an island nation, making it necessary to generate their electricity within its own country. In 2019 we made a contract with our first Japanese customer, and are looking forward to making more partners in the market.

Q: Where do you get your revenue from? What is your business model?

A: Charge is based on the number of megawatt installed in our system (on annual subscription basis). Since our customer’s business is a long term business model, we try to align ourselves to their interest.

Q: Who is your main target in Japan?

A: There seems to be three types of owners of reusable energy: 1) Utility companies, 2) Oil and gas companies, and 3) Independent power producers (relevant smaller companies which possess pension capitals and invest in renewable energy). Our golden customer is the independent power producers so we will approach them first, then comes utility companies and oil and gas companies.

4. Water Design (Japan) Natsumi Ito, CMO

“The problem we are fighting is the slimy dirt around water pipes, found in almost any building where there is a pipe and use water. Most of the time these dirts are cleaned by chemicals. However we do not think using chemicals is not the best solution, therefore we developed the world’s first ultra fine bubble (UFB) generator nozzle technology to cope with the problem. ”

“UFB are small bubbles unable to be seen with naked eye, and scientists have found four tremendous effects of it: cleaning, growth promoting, coating, and gas dissolution. The cleaning effect has been proven in Shinjuku station bathroom pipes, and dialysis machine pipes at hospitals. It is the only nozzle that can be installed into a normal water pipe. Big companies do have products that have a UFB effect (eg. Toshiba’s laundry machine), but the UFB effect is only for that product. But with our technology, one single nozzle can transform all the water coming into that building (whether a house or a building) to UFB.”

“Currently, we are looking for factories, buildings, and hospitals to make partnerships with. By collaborating with us, companies will benefit in hygiene issues, environmental issues, and business opportunities by improving efficiency.”

Q: Are there any plans to implement IoT to your product?

A: At the time being, our product is a stand alone device. We are now trying to collect relevant datas to merge with IoT (eg. amount of chemical reduction, length of time saved not having to clean and maintenance water pipes).

Q: Can your product be used in any countries?

A: The shipment regulations can depend on each country’s regulations, but product wise we can customise depending on the size and material of the site where it will be used.

Q: Have you investigated your product’s performance at desalination plants?

A: Yes, we can customise our product for those uses as well.

5. AC Biode (Japan) Tadashi Kubo,CEO

“Today I will introduce our product, CircuLite, a product which enables us to recycle coal ash and biomass ash into multifunctional chemical products. The problem with coal ash and biomass ash is that they include lots of heavy metal, very costly to dispose, and are environmentally harmful. Our technology allows us to change these ashes into multifunctional chemical products called CircuLite, which can be used in various ways to absorb harmful things (physical/chemical).”

“We have completed two projects, one in Japan (Chubu Electricity Power coal ash into air filtering) and one in Taiwan (rice biomass ash into filter and cosmetic products), and now looking for potential partners in Europe and Asia. We collaborate by providing our engineering to owners of coal fired / biomass power plants.”

“Currently we are the only one in the world who can transform ashes into multifunctional chemical products. We are a well balanced team with members from both science and business backgrounds. ”

Q: Is any kind of coal ash possible to use?

A: Yes, as long as they are from coal ash and biomass ash.

Q: How do you handle AS and Cd in the coal ash?

A: We have special technology to remove those heavy metals, so no heavy metal is included in our final products.

6. Green Science Alliance Co. Ltd.(Japan) Ryohei Mori, CEO

“We work on research and development of cutting edge technology in the field of energy and environmental green science. We have a wide range of products. The problems we tackle are plastic pollution, petroleum dependence, biomass waste utilization, CO2 increase, and water scarcity.”

“Our product lineup is: 100% biomass biodegradable products (artificial nail for cosmetic use will be introduced in the media soon), bioethanol from non-food materials, rechargeable batteries, quantum dot, pico technology (a unit smaller than nano), and CO2 capture and conversion. We sell our functional (raw) materials to company research and research institutes, and universities. Annual sales are about 1.5–2.0 million USD, but are rapidly growing.”

Q: How long does your 100% biomass plastics convert to soil?

A: We have several types of biomass materials and It depends on which type. Some can be converted in a few months, others take 1–2 years to be converted.

18:20: Closing remarks

The event was wrapped up by a thank you note and instructions on further discussions from the co-hosting organizations, NIH-TYO and OIH. Both organizations are happy to facilitate further conversation between startups and companies. We would like to be connected with you all. Thank you for joining!

Nordic Innovation House Tokyo is a community platform accelerating high-quality Nordic startups, scale-ups, and growth companies to Japan. Via our strong community and network, we connect Nordic companies to the right ecosystem stakeholders 🗼

ノルディックイノベーションハウス東京は、北欧5カ国のスタートアップ及び成長企業の日本進出を支援する、コミュニティプラットフォームです。強力なコミュニティとネットワークを生かして、北欧企業と日本のステークホルダーを繋いでいきます。

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Nordic Innovation House Tokyo

We are a community platform accelerating high-quality Nordic startups/scaleups/growth companies in Japan.