Seven Swedish startups found new business opportunities in Canada

Recently, Paper Province and Sting Bioeconomy travelled to Toronto and Vancouver with seven Swedish startups to find collaborations for forest-based innovations. “I am very happy with the trip that helped us make many valuable contacts that will be useful in the future,” says Theodor Håkansson from Ecopals.

Paper Province’s collaboration with Canada goes back several years and similar activities have been arranged before. These have led to new experiences and synergies as well as widened networks and concrete business opportunities. The latest trip to Canada was no exception.

It was 15 – 21 June that Paper Province, Sting Bioeconomy, Region Värmland, Business Värmland and seven accompanying startup companies travelled to the other side of the Atlantic to deepen the cooperation and create new opportunities for forest-based innovations.

Theodor Håkansson and his company Ecopals made valuable contacts

“I travelled mainly to make contacts and I definitely did that – it was hard not to! I learned a lot about Canada and gained new knowledge about bioeconomy, which is valuable for me as I am new to the industry,” says Theodor Håkansson, CEO of Ecopals.

Josefin Larsson from Reselo shows the possibilities of birch bark as a raw material for interested conference attendees.

Ecopals produces a mouldable, sound-insulating, and biodegradable building material with light weight that is also very strong. The patented design is based on renewable materials such as recycled newspaper and pulp.

“I got some interesting business leads and made especially valuable contacts in innovation and development. Everyone had an open attitude, and it was nice to come to a place where so many are interested in the same issues. It was also valuable to get to know Paper Province, Sting Bioeconomy and the other startups that travelled with us from Sweden”, says Theodor.

One of those companies is Reselo. Reselo has developed a process for producing rubber from birch bark that can replace fossil-based and synthetic rubber.

“We have connected with Canadian companies and had the chance to work a lot with the value chain for our raw material. It has been a great trip,” says Josefin Larsson, Product Manager and Co-founder.

In addition to Ecopals and Reselo, the startup companies Biosorbe, Bright Day Graphene, Melker of Sweden, Richter Life Science and Tubesprout participated. Hear from some of them in the video from the trip:

Inspired by Sweden

In Toronto, the group engaged in study visits and workshops to build relationships, exchange insights and explore potential partnerships. They also traveled to Vancouver to attend the “Forest Innovation and Bioeconomy Conference”.

At the conference, the Swedish delegation demonstrated their innovations and their collaborative approach to forest innovation and transformation. Sting Bioeconomy facilitated a fruitful matchmaking session between Swedish and Canadian startups and other Canadian companies.

Paul Nemes (on the left) with Gustavo Oliveria

“It offered great networking opportunities and a chance to present our innovation. One of the contacts I made was a supplier in the fish industry who was interested in our renewable packaging solutions, an industry we had not considered before,” says Theodor.

The conference is a result of a previous meeting between Paper Province and representatives of the provincial government of British Columbia that took place in 2022 when Paper Province and other partners hosted a sub-event as part of the Swedish-Canadian innovation days in Toronto. They were impressed by what they saw and decided to organise their own conference with a focus on forest bioeconomy.

“I think as we build a bioeconomy here in British Columbia, we are lagging when we compare to some of the Nordic countries,” says Gustavo Oliveria, conference organiser and Director of Innovation at the division Bioeconomy and Indigenous Opportunities at British Columbia Regional Government.

“I would like to eventually create our own bioeconomy cluster here,” Gustavo continues. “But instead of replicating what has already been done maybe we can complement some of the work that Paper Province has been doing and some of the work that CRIBE in Ontario has been doing in Ontario. I think there are opportunities to collaborate for sure.”

Previous efforts that paid off

During the trip, it became clear that Paper Province’s and Sting Bioeconomy’s previous work of building networks and relationships with Canadian stakeholders helped the companies to find ways forward.

“Building relationships and finding the right contacts takes time and, in this case, we have acted as enablers and door openers for the companies. Several years of strategic work to be visible internationally have made it possible to offer this trip and to create concrete connections for Swedish start-up companies,” says Paul.

The Swedish-Canadian collaboration continues and in Canada the organisations agreed on upcoming activities such as study visits to Swedish test beds as well as biochar conference and hackathon in Canada.

Study visit to the lab at Toronto University

Parts of the Swedish delegation with participants from Paper Province, Sting Bioeconomy, Business Sweden, Region Värmland, Sustainable Steel Region and accompanying start-up companies

Find out more

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The trip and its content were organised by Paper Province, Sting Bioeconomy and Business Sweden, in close collaboration with CRIBE (Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bioeconomy) and Government of British Columbia. Region Värmland and Sustainable Steel Region also participated. The trip and the innovation-promoting efforts was arranged within the framework of the projects Vinnväxt and Focus Industry Spets. Sweden´s Innovation Agency Vinnova supported participating companies with travel grants.


Paul Nemes

Vice VD

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