South Africa celebrates entrepreneurial innovations

On Wednesday evening 25 May, WWF South Africa celebrated three entrepreneurs for their innovative ventures that address carbon emission reductions and access to energy using clean technologies.

The awards ceremony was preceded by an interactive and robust panel discussion on Bridging the gap: The role of Enablers in South Africa featuring industry thought leaders. Gerswynn McKuur (Technology Innovation Agency, TIA); Albert Botha (Ashburton Investments); Mike Mulcahy (GreenCape); Tanner Methvin (Impact Amplifier); Helmut Hertzog (South Africa Renewable Energy Business Incubator, SAREBI) and Brandon Paschal (Launchlab, University of Stellenbosch) shared their experiences and thoughts on scaling innovation in South Africa. This included the need to cut red tape, break down silos, corporates needing to improve in becoming first adopters as well as the need to work together to help small climate entrepreneurs scale and find investors.

The three Climate Solvers are Heliolab, a revolutionary heliostat concentrated solar power collector system, Futran, an autonomous haulage test system and Miser, a hydraulic hybrid transition.

The story of Heliolab is the story of a team (above) of highly capable individuals from diverse engineering backgrounds brought together by their combined interest in solar thermal energy through the Stellenbosch Thermal Energy Research Group.Heliolab plonkable, low cost, small scale, flexible, scalable heliostat system enhances the benefits of concentrated solar power (CSP). It does this by removing the hurdles typically faced by this power source such as inflexibility and large scale requirements along with requiring significant site preparation and civil works, and having a definite limit to cost reduction potential. In addition, it has a smart control system that dynamically compensates for reduced precision. The objective of Helio100 as a technology demonstrator has certainly been met with a radical departure from traditional CSP design approaches to allow significant cost reduction for a small scale Heliostat system. The team has in consultation with a number of industry participants including its technology partners concluded that the next project will be aroughly 800m2 concentrator system to deliver heat and/or power to an industry client via a proper off-take agreement. The Helio800 project will be kicking off in June 2016 and completed in 12-18 months.

As a Fractional Rapid Transit (FRT) system, the Futran system is designed to transport a range of pod types to take loads as light as a few hundred kilograms and as heavy as 20 tonnes using the same track type and the same motorised units. The flexibility and scalability of the system is unique and enables it to address a range of needs in a variety of conditions. The system uses a light weight, super strong, elevated track network, and can be deployed on road and railway reserves, over obstacles and sensitive areas such as wetlands and rivers. It is high enough to enable animal and people migrations, and small enough not to be visually disturbing.When compared to trucks at a mine, the Futran System saves cost by up to 50% and reduces CO2 emissions by 70% or more.The first Futran public transportation systems will be deployed over the next two to three years, with long distance haulage systems deployed within three to four years. Cross-continental long distance haulage lines will be deployed across Africa in the longer term. Milotek (Pty) Ltd, creators of the Futran public transportation system is owned by Imperial Holdings, Andries Louw and Minorities.

MISER technology is a hydraulic hybrid transmission system designed for all vehicles to recover and store the kinetic energy typically lost while braking. The energy is then sent back to the wheels at the optimum time so that you can drive from the hydraulic system, rather than the engine. With an estimated 300 million freight vehicles on the road worldwide causing significant carbon emissions, retrofitting this technology offers significant future carbon emission reductions. Ducere Holdings (Pty) Ltd was established in March 2004, although the idea and preliminary work on the MISER concept started long before that. The company is based in Johannesburg, South Africa but many resources are contracted from outside of the country. MISER plans to have the first two fitment centres for MISER Retrofit in South Africa operational nine months after starting on the next phase being the first production cycle. The plan is to then follow that up by introducing two more a month for the next four months. Once these ten fitment centres are online, operational and profitable, will we further investigate the potential of adding more fitment centres.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Evan Rice, Business Development Manager of TESLA SA, encouraged all climate innovators to understand the problem they are trying to solve, to figure at the scale at which they need to have impact and to partner with the right people.

Louise Scholtz, WWF South Africa manager of the Climate Solver programme: “WWF is proud to honour three winners that demonstrate the depth of technical ability and innovation in South Africa.  The technologies offer cutting edge solutions to addressing the pressing issue of carbon emission reductions in South Africa and beyond, and Heliostat, in addition, also addresses access to clean energy that emits zero carbon”.

Thanks also to Swedish Postcode Lottery and Dustin for making this years Climate Solver South Africa possible. 

Blog written by Louise Scholtz, WWF in South Africa  

(Louise with Climate Solver Partners in top left image below. Recording by Saliem Fakir, WWF South Africa top right. Morne Du Plessis, WWF South Africa bottom left. The ceremony was followed by a mingle bottom right)



Amazing Nordic entrepreneurship at display in Malmö

Climate Solver Nordic Honorees gathered with well-deserved diplomas

Cleantech Capital Day in Malmö gathered the perfect combination of large corporates, government agencies, international investors, civil society and most importantly a very large number of ground-breaking entrepreneurs. The energy that went into these two days of co-creation in the form of pitching, bilaterals, trilaterals, professional speed-dating between different stakeholders for the creation of a more healthy planet is hard to describe. The entrepreneurs gathered had gone through nine months of scrutiny from professional jury members so were all top notch of sustainable innovation from the Nordic region. If a helicopter with money, corporate buy-in and policy empowerment would have dumped it over High Court in Malmö these days the Nordics would be well under way to be the Silicon Valley of Sustainable Innovation and reaping great financial rewards in the process. Lots of new investments and solutions growth will undoubtedly come from this explosion of creativity. Politicians were largely not present in this solutions conference and a stark increase of urgency to combat climate change was reported this week by Carbon Brief. The gathering of entrepreneurs, agencies, investors, corporates agreed on the fact that revenue creation prospects are good but there are many regulatory barriers in the way to unleash the force of scaling the many solutions fast enough towards a much needed circular economy and full renewable energy transition. 

The 12 Climate Solver Nordic were celebrated and honored before the 200 (wherof 60 were investors and 60 were innovation companies) distinguished participants from many parts of the world such as China, North America, Arab region as well as Europe ofcourse. The session with them presenting gathered a jam packed room and another 100 following on distance through Periscope. Accenture, IKEA, Cleantech Invest, Swedish Incubators & Science Parks (SISP), Swedish Postcode Lottery and Clean Motion all added very good value to this session. So do have a look at the 12 entrepreneurs if you have not already done so. Also if you have missed it, do check the press releases below. There was also the exciting final of Nordic Cleantech Open where we advise you to look at all Top 25, the three voted winners by the panels and audience were Fresh.Land, TRINE and SBT Aquatec.    

Press releases here in Nordic press/languages 

In Swedish

In Finish

In Norwegian

In Danish

So congratulations to all winners, honorees, organisers and participants. Together we can be an unstoppable force of positive change for people and planet that also generates profits.    

Next week on Wednesday Climate Solver hits Cape Town for more ground-breaking entrepreneurship joining a growing global family. 


Stefan Henningsson 


Sneak peek at the 12 Nordic entrepreneurs that will be honoured in Malmö on Wednesday

If you have doubts about Nordic countries having the potential to become a Silicon Valley for sustainable innovations, maybe you should check out these 12 new Nordic innovations on the Climate Solver site that will come to Malmö 18 May at Cleantech Capital Day and be honoured by WWF and partners:   

Energy generation: Converting low temperature heat to electricity by Climeon 

Converting arid land into fertile soil by Desert Control

100 percent emission-free car and ridesharing by EkoRent 

Making hot water storage more efficient by EyeCular Technologies 

Digitizing the food supply chain by Fresh.Land 

Creating new ways to produce cellulose fibers by Infinited Fiber Company 

Smart urban mobility solutions by Meshcrafts 

Creating a new paradigm in daily water and energy usage by Orbital Systems 

Offering solar energy below grid parity  by Solnet Green Energy 

WWFs calculations on these 12 innovations from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway show they have the potential to avoid 247 milion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and pull 48 million people out of energy poverty by year 2026. So the potential annual emission reductions in ten years time is about as high as the annual domestic emissions coming from the same Nordic countries in 2010. What can you do to help a climate entrepreneur? Get in contact with the entrepreneurs and/or us at WWF om  


WWF urges Nordics to be a global hub for taking climate innovations to growing global markets

WWF has identified twelve early stage Nordic entrepreneurs with innovations and commercial offers that could reduce the equivalent to all Nordic countries worth of domestic annual emissions in ten years time. The Nordics is a region packed with early stage climate innovation talent but the region punches below its weight in bringing about commercialization at scale.

The twelve Climate Solver Nordic of  2016 cut through traditional business sectors as they are in the forefront of using digitalization to disrupt wasted energy in the food supply-chain, turn arid land into fertile soil, provide solar energy as a financial service for roofs in Nordic region as well as East Africa, manufacture fibres from textile waste replacing virgin material, improve our heating systems, store energy, capture low heat normally wasted to make electricity, making super-efficient showers, smart homes, reduce in-city traffic and enable electric drive through infrastructure and EV car sharing. They will be honored for their innovations during Cleantech Capital Day in Malmö 18-19 May where the final of Nordic Cleantech Open will also take place with plenty more of the best innovation for a better planet that the Nordics has to offer.

Because the Nordic region really is a global hot spot for innovation as measured by INSEAD Business School, WIPO and other innovation analysts for the Global Innovation Index that places all Nordic countries in the top 20 of the world economies on innovation (3 Sweden, 6 Finland, 10 Denmark, 20 Norway). In relation to ability to nurture good cleantech innovation all Nordic countries rank top 14 out of 40 countries in the Global Cleantech Innovation Index (2 Finland, 4 Sweden, 5 Denmark, 14 Norway). So there is a continuous stream of ever more innovative solutions coming out on the market, often from renowned science parks, universities and incubators in the Nordic region.

But many of these startup companies are left ill-fated, not growing fast compared to strong commercialiser countries. Some challenges being a Nordic start-up pointed out by this years honorees are conservative industries resisting the change they can enable, not stringent enough environmental regulation decreasing capital flow into their markets, lack of interested investors/funding, low electricity prices and small domestic market. On the opportunity side they see that solving climate change and the energy transition as a massive global market opportunity. And the reputation of Nordic countries as innovative, technologically advanced with relatively clean air, water and nature is a plus.

And as the entrepreneurs suggest, solving the world’s environmental woes can also be lucrative business. 63 times Nordic GDP, US$90 trillion, is likely to be invested in infrastructure in the world’s urban, land use and energy systems over the coming 15 years according to the New Climate Economy report. The World Bank estimates specifically that cleantech market over the next 10 years in only 15 emerging clean technology sectors in the developing world is 4-5 larger than the Nordic GDP at $6.4 trillion. Accenture research indicates a rewards worth three times the Nordic GDP for companies using circular economy business models by 2030; And for last year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has reported that global investment in clean renewable energy totaled a quarter of Nordic GDP with modern renewable power (excl hydro) exceeding fossil fuel investments 2 to 1 and nuclear investments 11 to 1, this despite a low oil price.

The Paris Agreement from December was agreed and signed last month. The convention commits countries to go globally to net zero emissions and to limit climate change to well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts for 1,5 degrees. The current country pledges do not yet put us on track to achieve this goal, making low-carbon innovation a global priority and matter of urgency. Following the historic turning point last year WWF Nordic offices want the region to become the Silicon Valley of sustainable innovation bringing commercialized solutions to international markets. The global energy transition must occur at unprecedented speed and at scale. Nordics have the talent, the capital and a good share of political will. But market action is needed now or the first mover benefits that the region once enjoyed will be lost. WWF sees a need for a coherent policy environment to ensure that the early stage innovations become truly commercialized. We would create a strong domestic market for our innovation talent by accelerating the Nordic transition to a full 100% renewable energy region. The opportunity for the whole Nordic region to become a globally recognised hub for innovation towards 100% renewable energy and net zero emissions makes sense economically, socially, environmentally and not least politically.

WWF wishes to see the most sustainable cleantech companies to win the race at the billion-dollar market. For this reason, WWF chose to collaborate with the Nordic Cleantech Open last year in a first ever call to identify the Nordic start-up companies – the WWF Climate Solver Nordic - most able to a pave the way towards 100% renewable energy and halting climate change while providing energy access to poorer communities. Jury members are distinguished investors, policy and technology expertise and very experienced in assessing the business case which we combined with WWF conservation expertise and the calculation of these innovations climate and energy access impact potential.

The twelve honored climate entrepreneurs share WWF’s passion for the low-carbon transition as they offer a myriad of innovative solutions to add to the 70 honored Chinese, Indian and South African innovations on the platform. WWFs calculations on these  innovations from Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway - 3 from each country - show they have the potential to avoid 247 milion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and pull 48 million people out of energy poverty by year 2026. The domestic emissions coming from the same Nordic countries was 249 million tonnes in 2010.

The entrepreneurs that will be honoured in Malmö 18 May at Cleantech Capital Day are:

From Finland  

100 percent emission-free car and ridesharing by EkoRent - “Humankind is facing the greatest challenge of our times. We have to stop consuming our resources and polluting this planet as we are doing today. If we don't, large parts of our planet will suffer from catastrophic consequences of climate change forcing millions of climate refugees out of their homes. This will effect us all, either directly or indirectly. Time is running out and we need to act now to reverse the direction.” Juha Suojanen, Founder and CEO , Contact +358 40 707 1091

Offering solar energy below grid parity by Solnet Green Energy“Our approach to solving tomorrows climate and energy challenges is to focus on end customers financial benefit and making the transition to renewable energy as simple as possible. From our perspective the environmental impact of renewables is added value and key selling point is financial benefit and cost savings to end customers. This is the only way to implement renewables fast enough and on a scale that is significant to mitigate future climate issues. With our business model saving the worlds biodiversity is good for the economy and improves the bottom line for companies.” Arttur Kulvik, Chairman of the Board / Founding Partner , Contact '+358 50 342 7719 

Creating new ways to produce cellulose fibers by Infinited Fiber Company - “Plenty of innovation will take place in the near future in fashion recycling, and that is great: humanity either needs another planet or smart solutions. We are the ones who are ready to act with our technology. We want to be active and open about our manmade natural fiber that is both ecological and affordable, and gets better when recycled – infinitely. Simultaneously, we want to create an open ecosystem where all the radical fashion recycling innovators can unite for maximum impact on both business & the planet. We know that good business needs all the sharp brains it can possibly have: together we can do this. In this world, most things are meaningless and lack true impact. With Infinited Fiber technology we have an opportunity to solve a major problem by turning waste into treasure. Join us, we can do this.” Petri Alava, CEO , Contact +358 50 14 83 

From Denmark

Digitizing the food supply chain by Fresh.Land - “The food supply chain is broken. Food spends months in cold storage - which represents 1/3 of all food related emissions. With we are using the trees as a ‘natural warehouse’ - directly from tree to store in days rather than months. Fresh.Land puts the Nordics at the forefront of two strategic industries - cleantech and agribusiness - and as an innovative new business model to showcase to the world.” Mathilde Jakobsen, CEO , Contact +45 5379 0707 

Smart energy at home using cloud and storage by Suntherm - “At SUNTHERM we are developing the residential heating system of the future. We are able to produce and store both clean and cheap heating.” Morten Veis Donnerup, CEO/Co-Founder , Contact +45 6161 0604 

Making hot water storage more efficient by EyeCular Technologies - "Saving the climate (if saving the planet is to grant to say), is the single most important challenge, which must be solved. All other challenges in the world becomes redundant if we do not succeed in solving the climatic challenge." Martin Spanggaard, CEO , Contact +45 5269 5955 

From Sweden

Invest in solar energy today - Make an impact and get return on investment by Trine - "With as low as €25 you can literally save the world. By allowing everybody to invest in solar, TRINE enables people to be climate solvers in their everyday life. Because doing good should be easy and rewarding.” Sam Manaberi, Founder & CEO , Contact +46 76 191 53 28

Energy generation: Converting low temperature heat to electricity by Climeon - “We have reached a tipping point with green energy at a cost lower than traditional energy sources. Our solution is significantly more cost-efficient than fossil fueled electricity, and thus becomes one of the most efficient ways to reduce CO2 emissions.” Thomas Öström, CEO , Contact +46 76 05 23 295

Creating a new paradigm in daily water and energy usage by Orbital Systems - "Our mission is to create a new paradigm in daily water usage for the world. Our water recirculating shower saves up to 90% of the water and 80% of the energy, while at the same time increasing comfort and hygiene." Mehrdad Mahdjoubi, CEO & FOUNDER , Contact +46 70-0918874 

From Norway

Smart urban mobility solutions by Meshcrafts - “The climate change is probably the biggest challenge human kind have faced, and transportation is a big part of the problem, so by reducing and pivot the transportation into electric and green solutions we can get closer to reach the goal of max 1.5 degrees.” Åsmund Møll Frengstad, Founder & CEO , Contact +47 905 03 441

Helping consumers manage their home energy by Viva Labs - “Moving to renewable energy sources is critical for our future, but on that journey it is important not to lose sight of what we can do today. Intelligent software is the key to making the world better today and it can be done with little investment.” Henrik Holen, CEO , Contact +47 977 99 546 

Converting arid land into fertile soil by Desert Control - "Some technologies are so disruptive that it's hard to imagine the consequences: visualizing most deserts as green farmland, with unlimited pure water is one of them. Knowing that this technology exists now, one can't help, but think of the Klondike gold rush, as we now stand at the threshold of a new gold rush, only this time it's for the green gold. Ole M. Olesen CEO. Contact +47 46665455


All in all, we did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones but because entrepreneurs found new ways of fulfilling our needs in smarter ways for human progress. Next in line is to bid farewell to fossil fuels.


Contact us:

WWF Sweden - Stefan Henningsson,

WWF Finland - Kaarina Kolle,

WWF Denmark - Hanne Jersild -

WWF Norway - Ragnhild Elisabeth Waagaard - 

Climate Solver would not have been possible without the financial support from Dustin and Swedish Postcode Lottery as well as our innovation partners over the years with Nordic presence which are Cleantech Scandinavia, STING, Innovatum, Impact Invest Scandinavia, Sustainable Business Hub, CONNECT Östra Sverige, Cleantech Inn and Sustainia. 

China's young entrepreneurs is a force of change we should all take seriously


On Wednesday 27 April 2016, Freedom Day commemorating the first post-apartheid elections held on that day 1994 in South Africa, it was time once again to celebrate Chinese innovation towards a better planet for us all. Another step towards freedom from fossil fuel energy. Over the four years of running the program in China the quality of the innovations increases rapidly. None of the five new Climate Solver innovations this year even existed on the market when the program started in China four years ago or for that matter at the time when I was forced to leave the COP15 in Copenhagen corridors, if we want to make climate negotiation comparisons. As a collective their commercialistaion from now on carry the hope of increasing resource and energy efficiency 3-10 times in relevant sectors of replacing inefficient, carbon intensive practices and materials in fertilizers, water pipes, animal feed and data storage. They also spearhead the future of solar energy by already now aiming to increase resource efficiency, energy efficiency, production speed and lifespan of standard solar panels and heaters by 4-10 times. Together their solutions could avoid roughly 230 million tons of CO2 emissions per year by 2025 through taking market shares from less innovative standard practices on the global market. More on the innovations below.

Mr Xu Qinghua, Deputy Secretary General, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) pointed out that China is entering a New Normal of economic development and we must change our mindset around how we think about growth. As China now enters a New Normal of economic development with lower speed growth it will be important for China to promote innovation in business models as well as technologies. Mr Thandukwazi Nyawose, Economic counsellor at the South African embassy, followed up by rightly pointing out that South Africa is the World’s fastest growing Renewable Energy market now and that they are welcoming Chinese entrepreneurs in this space to set up manufacturing in South Africa for their own and regional markets. As we know from Climate Solver South Africa there are also several South African climate entrepreneurs that could be exciting for the Chinese market. Interestingly JM Green that was awarded in China this year has a South African friend in the space of commercializing nutrient recycling. We hope to see much such south-south collaboration in the years to come.    

Mr Zeng Xiaodong, Managing Director of International Operations, Administrative committee of Zhongguancun Science Park raised that cleantech is the new normal. The science park's core focus is on Talent, Technology and Capital. And they have built up an ecosystem for start-ups on Beijing’s Innoway to which he welcomed all disruptive start-ups in the cleantech space to choose as their platform to grow from. Not least from other regions such as Europe, the Nordic region and the US. He also raised that Climate Solver like solutions is a nice fit with China’s One Belt One Road strategy and expressed a wish to present Climate Solver companies to his Board. He also gave a word of advice to start-ups in low carbon technology: You must use the markets as a power to grow.      

In this mix I presented the huge market potential for climate change solutions in the years to come, the need to go 100% renewable energy systems by 2050 latest for 1.5 degrees global warming, the innovation momentum in a range of important cleantech areas that are having a major economic impact and the tipping points provided by the Paris deal. I also got the opportunity to present China’s strengths and weaknesses in the cleantech innovation ecosystem as well as the story of Climate Solver so far.

Dang Falong, Xi'an Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, presented their zone that hosts 40 000 business whereof 80% are SMEs. Shortage of finance is a challenge for many small companies so they have put a great effort into attracting more than 200 Venture Capitalists to Xi’an in order to address that. Their ambition as a zone is also to be powered by 100% renewable energy. A MoU was signed between WWF and Xi'an Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone to become our newest Partner to the programme of growing the next generation of climate entrepreneurs.

The most active partners this year Baoding National Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, Hunan Innovative Low Carbon Center, TEDA Eco Center, China-UK Low Carbon Investment Corp, China Renewable Energy Industrial Alliance, Energy Efficiency Investment and Assessment Committee CERS, Top10 China and Institute for Environment and Development made this years Climate Solver China possible and received a diploma and thank yous from us at WWF and the whole audience.

Luo Yun, Chairman of MetaSpace (Beijing) Air Dome Corp, reported that they have gained better market reputation and raised market awareness of the issues of air pollution and climate change. He was also happy to report that in past year their equity has tripled and profits doubled.    

In the afternoon investors, policy-makers, corporate representatives as well as old and new Climate Solver entrepreneurs had a workshop. All in Chinese, professionally moderated by Mr. Wu Dayou and highly appreciated by the participants.     

And then the highlight of the day of welcoming five new Climate Solver companies. So are they transformative? I say that they are definite disruptors in their sectors. Take a look at the bullets below, the full text and video on links and judge for yourself:      

Bamboo winding pipelines replacing steel, concrete etc with an organic raw material and with an energy consumption in whole production process of a unit length which amounts to 1/4 of a welded steel pipe and 1/3 of a polyethylene pipe

Super-Thin and Flexible Solar PV cells manufacturing where consumption of silicon material is 10 times lower than for traditional solar panels, reducing cell manufacturing energy consumption 4 times, lowering working temperature 5-7 degrees. Also achieving deposition at 400℃ lower temperature, 10 times faster and a 2 times higher production yield. 

Heat superconducting materials with thermal conductivity about 5000 times that of aluminum. Applied for combined heat and electricity from the sun it can achieve daily solar heat gains that are 60% higher than national standard. They claim to increase the efficiency of PV power generation by up to 50% and the ability of extending average service life of solar water heaters five times from 3-5 years to 25 years.  

Efficient data storage that can cut data center energy consumption 10 times whilst providing same service.  

Food Waste Treatment and Nutrition Recovery by Black Soldier Fly that turns otherwise wasted nutrients into insect protein and natural organic fertilizer to replace conventional production of animal feed and fertilizer 

The innovation journey in China is well underway and on that front we are clearly only just seeing the beginning of disruptive change. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows us that China has shifted fast from needs-driven to opportunity-driven innovation over the last decade. It also shows that a larger share of Chinese population starts new business compared to other countries and the typical entrepreneur in China today is a young man in their late twenties. Can this force of youth be a change agent to get us away from harmful air pollution, coal dependency, fuel-gustling cars etc? I firmly think so after having met several series of young CEOs, Directors, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs on a mission. And the New Normal of economic development for China is certainly embracing innovation in it’s scope – how deep will it embrace sustainability? The talent is there, so is the force in capital. Will the innovation with it’s technologies and business models be transformative enough?   


Stefan Henningsson, 4 May 2016