Scalable Cleantech Business from CleanWeb
The CleanWeb program helped cleantech companies grow and improve financial performance through digitalization and consumer-driven business models.
Cleantech is growing as mobile technology provides opportunities for new business models. The winners of the future will be those who provide customers with digital services as well as products. A leap to the next level, from cleantech to CleanWeb, lies ahead. The cleantech consumer market is growing and holistic solutions and services are being sought to meet customer needs.
The program's objectives
CleanWeb program aimed to create rapidly scalable cleantech business operations and accelerate the market entry of SMEs in the sector.
The aim was to make cleantech into a competitive growth sector by leveraging digitalization and new innovations and practices. We also aimed to increase the expertise of cleantech companies, especially those in the consumer market, in making customer value tangible and communicating more effectively on their own solutions. The program involved active communication on developing the competitiveness of SMEs.
Focus areas of the program
- consumer businesses
- solutions that promote the circular economy
- promoting access to the US markets
The CleanWeb program opened doors to domestic and international networks and business accelerators. We also organised networking events, business coaching and training. The program provided funding for cleantech solutions.
- open doors to the world's best business acceleration centers
- matchmaking events and networks
- business coaching and training (including NABC training and a How to Attract Investors Workshop)
- funding for the development, piloting and demonstration of cleantech solutions
- Team Finland services and international networks
The CleanWeb program provided funding for projects related to the cleantech theme. The full range of Business Finland's funding tools are available for project funding.
CleanWeb funding prioritised projects that leverage digitalization to increase the competitiveness of businesses. The program also offered funding for projects through which companies are seeking to internationalize. Such projects may include activities such as market and competitor surveys, the creation of market entry plans, participation in business accelerators, or international pilots and demos.
Funding was also available for increasing customer insight with regard to consumer solutions, leveraging service design, and brand development.
Runway to the US market
The US market offers golden opportunities for Finnish cleantech and circular economy firms. In California, the world's fifth largest economic area, big investments are being made in clean solutions and new innovations are in high demand.
In 2018, Business Finland offered companies tailored services and business coaching to help them enter the US market.
Experiences in entering the US market
Boldan is introducing Finnish pipe renovation expertise to the world
Boldan, a leading Finnish supplier of lining materials and solutions used in pipe renovations, is one of the growth-oriented companies to receive a grant from Business Finland's CleanWeb Program. It was selected last fall for coaching, on how to enter the US market, in the Los Angeles LACI incubator. The company has tripled its number of staff in just half a year, and established offices in Florida and Singapore.
Why the US market?
We asked companies that participated in the USA Bootcamp in June 2018 why they are seeking entry to the US market in particular. Watch a video on the insights and experiences of companies on entering the US market.
Materials of runway events
Paths to conquering the US market
In the fall of 2018, we arranged an event for companies currently aiming to enter the US markets, where we will offer networks and help your company to achieve customer insight on the US market.
Nevada's location makes it the perfect port for accessing California's massive cleantech market. Las Vegas, the largest city in the state of Nevada, is known as the data hub of the US. Nevada also offers a business-friendly environment in terms of taxation. Business Finland aims to take Finnish cleantech companies on an exploration of the market opportunities offered by Nevada. Waterstart is an example of a Nevada-based innovation developer for companies in the water sector, which offers services such as piloting opportunities. If you are interested in market opportunities in Nevada, please contact:
Head of Cleantech Industry Ilkka Homanen, Business Finland
ilkka.homanen (at) businessfinland.fi, +358 (0)44 577 4430
Our experts helping you around the world
Our Business Finland advisers based in Finland (CleanWeb program team and customer service managers) will help you to prepare, and our international business advisers in the US will open the door to the market for your business. They have networks to potential customers, partners, financiers and local business accelerators.
Contact our experts:
- Aki Luukkainen, International Business Expert, Los Angeles
(has moved to other job)
- Veijo Komulainen, International Business Expert, New York
veijo.komulainen (at) formin.fi
Check Team Finland experts' tips for market access and growth in the US
International business accelerator programs
By participating in an overseas accelerator program, you can accelerate your entry to the US market, validate customer needs, and build a business in the target market. Read more about international accelerator programs.
Cleantech sales week 12.-16.11.2018
A week-long trip to Los Angeles and San Diego to promote a business's sales in the USA. Meet both private and public potential customers in California and other selected regions in the USA. Trips ar organised annually.
- Cleantech Sales Week 12.-16.11.2018
Los Angeles and San Diego, USA
Check what opportunities Cleantech Sales Week can offer to your company:
The GAP program offers a market entry plan for the US market. An international market entry plan will be drawn up for your company during the intensive six months of the Global Access Program. The plan will be prepared by a team of experts completing MBAs at UCLA, who have been hand-picked for each company in question. Further information: Teemu Varonen teemu.varonen (at) businessfinland.fi
Amcham is an international business community that helps companies to internationalize for entry to the US markets, for example.
Tools for increasing customer insight
Understanding customer needs is essential for good service and product development and successful marketing. These materials and studies will help you to gain customer insight.
- SHIFT A Review and framework for encouraging ecologically sustainable consumer behavior (Sitra Studies 2018)
- Changing relationship between people and goods (Sitra 2017)
- Motivaatioprofiilit apuna liiketoiminnan kehittämisessä (Motivation profiles as business development tools – in Finnish only) (Sitra 2018)
- Cleantech takes over consumer markets (Demos Helsinki 2015)
- What makes us buy and why? (Team Finland Future Watch Report 2014)
Boost to growth based on cooperation between large and small companies:
- Bees and Trees – Unique Partnerships to Co-create Sustainable Business (Demos Helsinki 2018)
Results of the Cleanweb program
The aim of the CleanWeb programme was to create rapidly scalable cleantech business and accelerate the market entry of SMEs in the sector. The aim was to make cleantech into a competitive growth sector by leveraging digitalisation and new innovations and practices. In line with the programme’s slogan ”Scale and Profit”, companies were activated and mentored with the principal aim to speed up the scaling of cleantech SMEs for the international market. The focus was in particular on the US market. CleanWeb projects were funded for a total of around 26 million euros. The Government’s key project funding played a major role.
In addition to Tekes’ traditional funding services, the CleanWeb programme included services that were focused on internationalisation. Initially, the aim of such services was to develop companies’ basic competence and skills in Finland and later on to take advantage of target market contacts in order to scale business operations. This is where the programme cooperated with Finpro and the Team Finland network. Main contacts in the US were Senior Trade Commissioner Aki Luukkainen in Los Angeles and Counselor, commercial and trade affairs Veijo Komulainen in New York from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Companies received help in contacting accelerators in the US and networks of global companies and investors, such as the Global and Cleantech Forum Europe and Nordic Innovation Accelerator, NIA. The CleanWeb programme’s main stakeholder groups and partners also included Amcham Finland, Gate2Growth, Exact Innovation, Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, Network for Global Innovation (NGIN), Kasvun Roihu Oy, Ite wiki Oy, Demos Helsinki and Yrityskummit ry.
The following observations on how internationalisation and accessing the US market in particular can be accelerated are some of the key results of the CleanWeb programme:
- The United States is a massive country and market where business opportunities can be found and they should be looked for in various states. Differences between states must be taken into account from the regulation perspective, among others.
- A key factor to success is focusing on the company’s key resources and supply. A key resource must be at the customer interface where customer need is put to test. Supply, sales and marketing are modified on the basis of feedback received from the customer interface so that supply can be customised to suit customers.
- Business communication, customer discovery and pitching are essential skills which must be developed in order to accelerate market entry as there is plenty of competition in an extensive market and smaller operators in particular must be able to efficiently communicate the benefits of their solutions to a user who could potentially need them. Companies do not necessarily identify the need to develop the skills in question. Business Finland should actively promote development needs.
- Particular attention must be paid to long-term sales and marketing activities while sales and marketing must also be modified to suit the target market in question. An understanding of markets is necessary in order to customise sales and marketing for the customer base.
- Companies must create and increase visibility in the new market with the help of digital channels, for example. Visibility should be increased at such a point of time when the company is about to enter the market.
- Companies feel that they need more funding at the time when they are entering the market than what is currently available.
- Local contacts, that is partner companies/operators that operate in the same field are essential for starting operations as they are needed in order to ensure credibility.
- The first reference located in the US has been considered extremely important for increasing operations since only a Finnish reference does not yet offer the necessary credibility.
- Companies that are ready to start international operations feel that they most need answers to practical issues (such as taxation, customs duty, legislation, recruitment, establishing a company) in early stages of internationalisation. General information related to business culture, sales and marketing or markets is not as useful at the initial phase of internationalisation.
- Other companies that have been able to enter the market should be used for benchmarking. Other companies’ experiences seem to have a notable effect on steering and focusing operations.
- There is a considerable amount of information on the US market in digital channels available to everyone. Companies’ ability to use existing information varies.
- Companies find that personal mentoring and coaching are essential at the market entry phase. The best mentoring advisor is an expert who operates in the target market and is part of an extensive network. In this video, experts on international business in the US, Aki Luukkainen and Veijo Komulainen from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs talk about how a company should focus its operations as it is expanding its operations to the US.
The results of the programme were actively communicated through blogs, news and customer cases that were published on Business Finland’s website. They were shared on Twitter and LinkedIn and in a newsletter. Below is a list of materials available on Business Finland’s website including links to them (as of 2018). Some of the articles were published on the old Tekes website but there are no links to them here.
- 30.8.2018 Ilkka Homanen: Concrete smart city business opportunities await you in North America
- 6.6.2018: Outi Suomi: How can we create the next hit product for responsible consumers?
- 20.5.2018 Janne Hietaniemi: You need to travel far to see what’s in front of your nose – Solved’s lessons from the US
- 3.5.2018: Aki Luukkainen: Go West Finnish company – Go West
- 04.10.2018 Fourdeg provides better living comfort with the help of artificial intelligence
- 16.5.2018 Combi works provides indutrial production as a service
- 24.4. 2018 The package is the most effective marketing medium (PTR Package Testing and Research)
- 19.4.2018 Novel system warns driver of black ice (EEE Innovations)
- 15.12.2017 Artificial intelligence company AskKauko.com seeks growth and partners in California