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Sustainable ideas get wings with Linköping's testbed vouchers

For us, it gave us a chance to stop, be creative and think visionary.
- Teodor Hovenberg, CEO

Linköping municipality wants to take advantage of and nurture innovative ideas that can contribute to the city's climate and sustainability goals. For the past two years, small and medium-sized companies have been able to apply for support through test bed checks to quickly test their ideas in reality together with the municipal companies or another project partner within Climate Neutral Linköping.

And the positive results have not been long in coming.

Meet Ulrika Johansson, one of the people responsible for the work from the municipality of Linköping. Martin Ekdahl, Stångåstaden and Teodor Hovenberg, Envista, talk about a collaboration made possible by the checks. See below.

Testing innovative ideas in a real environment
Developing new partnerships
More solutions can help the transition

"The test bed check lowers the threshold for testing"

- "The testbed vouchers provide several benefits: it encourages initiatives that lead the development of society in the right direction, it shows that good ideas are taken seriously and it also gives the municipality better contact with the business community," says Ulrika Johansson, Linköping Science Park.

In the municipality of Linköping, innovative ideas are highly valued, especially if they contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Within the framework of Climate Neutral Linköping, test bed vouchers are offered that enable small and medium-sized companies to test bold and sustainable ideas in real environments within the municipality, while accelerating the transition to a more sustainable society.

Ulrika Johansson is responsible for the test bed checks within Climate Neutral Linköping.

Anyone with a good idea is welcome, whether it is a product, service or something magical that fundamentally changes people's behavior. Says Ulrika Johansson, responsible for the test bed checks within Climate Neutral Linköping.

- The requirement is that what is tested helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to more sustainable social development. In addition, the tests are carried out together with one of our municipal companies or a project partner within Climate Neutral Linköping, but the applicants usually only find this positive. The cooperation, all new contact paths and the opportunity to spread their solution are usually highlighted by the companies as the major benefits," Ulrika continues.

How it works

The experiment with test bed vouchers started about two years ago in the municipality of Linköping, partly to promote business innovation. Each company can apply for two test bed checks per year, each worth SEK 20,000. On average, ten companies per year receive test bed checks, and the project will continue until 2024 and then be evaluated.

- To receive a test bed check, the company first needs to contact one of the municipal companies linked to the initiative. There is an initial consultation to see if the idea is feasible and to discuss who might be a good partner. The company then submits an application," says Ulrika.

- If the criteria are met, the project is deemed feasible and has the potential to spread further and be scaled up, the test bed check will be granted. Three months after the payment of the money, the test must be completed.

Interesting for many municipalities

Linköping has a long tradition of close cooperation between business, the municipality and academia, but the model with testbed checks is suitable for both small and large municipalities for several reasons.

- It is a way for municipalities to encourage initiatives that lead social development in the right direction, clearly show that good ideas are taken seriously and at the same time get better contact with the business community within the municipality. The test bed check also lowers the threshold for daring to test and verify that the idea actually works," says Ulrika.

The municipality can also help make innovations and companies visible by communicating through its own channels, both regionally and nationally, to further accelerate the transition to a more sustainable society. But the municipality also has another important role.

- There is an urgency now and a little improvement is no longer enough. We must quickly find completely new solutions and ideas that accelerate development. To achieve this, we need to create new forums and arenas where people meet and enrich each other, and we in the municipalities and science parks can help with this. Climate change is an issue that we definitely need to tackle together," Ulrika concludes.

"We don't guess where the energy thieves are, we know!"

- Now it is easy to know exactly where we should implement measures in our property portfolio, says Martin Ekdahl, Operations Manager at Stångåstaden.

Every fifth person in Linköping lives in one of Stångåstaden's properties, the largest housing company in Linköping municipality.

- It is impossible to have information about 1300 buildings in your head. We need a simple and easy-to-understand tool that provides the right decision-making basis, and that's where we collaborate with Envista. With the help of the municipality's test bed checks, they have now helped us to also add electricity to the tool, says Martin Ekdahl, operations manager at Stångåstaden.

"One step ahead" is Stångåstaden's vision. When focusing on the future is a natural part of the working day and a new need is identified, the path from thought to action is short.

- We have been using Envista's tool for a long time to get a good overview of the heat use in the properties, but saw a need to be able to see the electricity use as well. Ideally, we wanted to be able to see how the electricity use in each property could be matched with the potential solar cell production on that particular building, and sat down with Envista to discuss this," says Martin.

Matching electricity consumption with solar energy

The meeting resulted in Envista applying for a test bed check to further develop how electricity use could be visualized in a simple way, and then test the idea in Stångåstaden's property portfolio. When the project started, it turned out that the easy part was to get the electricity use in place. However, solar cell production per property was more difficult to solve. The original idea was to use the municipality's solar map where homeowners can see how much potential their property has for solar energy. Unfortunately, it was not possible to use it, but statistics from SMHI were used instead.

- Now, with a single click, we can compare solar radiation and electricity use down to the hourly level for each property. We could do this before, but it would have meant several hours in Excel. Thanks to the test bed checks and Envista's development of the tool, we can filter the map image and immediately see which thirty properties are most suitable for solar cells. This significantly simplifies the project planning, speeds up the energy transition and makes it easier for us to meet the high energy and climate goals we have in the municipality," says Martin.

Hope more people join in

Looking at the entire property portfolio, Stångåstaden estimates that about 30 percent is suitable for solar cells. When it comes to student housing, where household electricity is included in the rent, the figure may be as high as 70 percent. But the figures can be further improved as some of the development remains.

- Now we can only measure solar radiation directly from above, but the roof angle should of course also be included. We will do that in the next step. The good thing is that all the development that we and Envista do together also benefits other customers. Competition is non-existent and it is only good if more people do the same thing. The more we can jointly develop IT tools that promote more sustainable energy use, the better," concludes Martin.

"Test bed checks - a good catalyst money"

- Our service helps property owners and municipalities reduce the energy and power needs of buildings faster and more cost-effectively," says Teodor Hovenberg, one of the founders of Envista.

Globally, the heating of buildings is one of the biggest climate impacts as coal and gas are still used. This makes it important to find solutions.

- Our tool makes it easy to see where it is easiest to make large property portfolios more energy efficient, which is a good way to reduce unnecessary resource consumption," says Teodor Hovenberg, CEO and co-founder of Envista.

Envista is one of many tech companies based in Linköping. Since 2017, the company has developed a digital tool that makes it possible to locate technically profitable energy measures in large property portfolios remotely, without having to measure temperatures, insulation thicknesses and energy flows on site in the buildings.

- The tool maps the entire property portfolio and makes it easy to see where there are problems in terms of heat use and where it is most resource-efficient to implement measures. One of the strengths is that the tool is so easy to handle and understand, as we work with educational map interfaces with color, shape and movement that show both strengths and weaknesses in a way that everyone understands, says Teodor.

Cooperation on energy

One of Envista's customers is Stångåstaden, Linköping municipality's largest housing company. All nearly 1300 buildings have been mapped in the heat and energy map since 2018, but Stångåstaden also needed to see the electricity consumption in the various properties.

- They approached us at just the right time. It was 2022 when electricity prices skyrocketed, we had long had an idea to incorporate the actual electricity consumption into the tool and we heard about the municipality's test bed checks. The checks became the catalyst that made us dare to test and evaluate our idea together with a competent partner, says Teodor.

Using data from the local energy company Tekniska Verken, the actual electricity consumption of Stångåstaden's entire property portfolio could soon be derived and visualized, which quickly led to further development of the tool.

- As a bonus, we figured out where solar cells make the best use of the property's electricity use and operating economy. In the tool, we can now use national data from SMHI to find out where the electricity consumption in a property over the day and year makes it suitable to put solar cells. Then the property owner just has to find suitable roofs, facades or other suitable surfaces to place them on," says Teodor.

An entrance ticket in several ways

Today, Envista's service is applied to over 20,000 Swedish apartment buildings and local properties in collaboration with both property owners and district heating companies, and the development continues.

- The method of test bed checks is very good. Of course, the sum does not cover the entire development cost, but it is an entrance ticket to work with the municipality's companies. It is when people meet and collaborate that new ideas are born, so that the transition can be driven forward more quickly. For us, it gave us a chance to stop, be creative and think visionary together with one of our customers. The good thing is that all the development of the tool also benefits our other customers, making the benefits much greater. Reducing the energy consumption of buildings is an important piece of the puzzle in the transition to a more resource-efficient society," concludes Teodor.

Facts about the cheque

  • Selected ideas receive a test bed check of €20,000.
  • SMEs can apply for a maximum of two cheques per year.
  • The idea is tested together with one of the municipality's companies or a project partner within Climate Neutral Linköping.

More on the Umeå Climate Roadmap

Contact us

Sandra Viktor, process manager Climate Neutral Linköping 2030,

Ulrika Johansson, Project Manager, Linköping Science Park,

Climate neutral Linköping 2030