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Case 23.06.2021

Suosil wants to turn sludge into next-level fertilizer

Suosil is a new cleantech startup with intriguing prospects: the company develops ambitious technology that recycles sewage sludge waste into organo-mineral fertilizer.

Andrey Likhachev, one of the co-founders of Suosil, says that the startup was established in Finland for a number of reasons: Finland has an amazing startup climate. The country is known for innovation and is the perfect place for companies that can solve environmental issues and protect the environment.

Furthermore, Likhachev believes that Finland can offer the necessary infrastructure, workforce and all the technological means for someone who wants to start a successful business in Europe. "There are also many opportunities to receive government support as a new company and for the necessary research and development."

How to get started

Likhachev got in touch with Business Finland in the spring 2019 to discuss starting a business in Finland. "We met and talked about the potential for such a business and what it would take to launch a startup in Finland," says Olga Makeeva, Senior Advisor for Business Finland.

Likhachev liked what he was hearing: in addition to the vibrant cleantech scene, there's also funding available for companies registered in Finland. Next stop, then: choosing a location for the company-to-be.

One of the strongest candidates was Mikkeli, located in Eastern Finland. The city boasted a new center for circular economy by the name of EcoSairila. At EcoSairila, there are 100 hectares of industrial space and the local roads and public infrastructure are just being finished.

Circular Economy Platform

The EcoSairila business hub has already witnessed investments to the tune of EUR 100 million: there is e.g. a modern wastewater plant and a biogas plant in the area. Thanks to the local ecosystem, it's possible to explore full-scale testbeds here, including water purification and stormwater treatment.

Director Jussi Heinimö from Mikkeli development company Miksei points out that finding a suitable location for a fledgling company goes a long way to launching successful operations, as there are issues such as synergies and logistics to consider.

"We talked with Likhachev and his team and we all agreed that Mikkeli can offer a great development environment in the form of EcoSairila," Heinimö looks back. "At Miksei, our job is to make the establishment process as easy and convenient as possible."

Boots on the ground

Suosil visited EcoSairila to get a better view of the situation. Panu Jouhkimo, EcoSairila coordinator, says that the local ecosystem benefits greatly from getting diverse players into its ranks.

"We want to bring together an extensive group of companies specializing in the circular economy, as well as R&D organizations studying new technologies and business models", Jouhkimo says, adding that in EcoSairila it's easy to meet colleagues and to come up with joint ventures.

After receiving a full tour of the area, the company became convinced of the possibilities of the hub: EcoSairila feels like a good home for a new company.

Kick-start operations

Finally, Suosil Oy was registered in November 2020 and the company is now looking to establish a prototype plant in EcoSairila, Mikkeli. Furthermore, Suosil applied for a patent for its technology in June 2o21.

"We're looking to receive grants and secure project financing, after which a plant can be built in Finland, and the company can enter the fertilizer market," Likhachev lays down the game plan.

Naturally, as research on fertilizer is being finalized, this requires a lot of testing. Still, the existing global potential is considerable:

"At the moment, the goal is to attract investments to realize all the possibilities of the project. The long-term target for us is operating in the international fertilizer market and transferring the technology for recycling sewage sludge to different countries in Asia, such as Kazakhstan and Taiwan, and also in Latin America as well as in Africa," says Likhachev.

Vital support from Business Finland and Miksei

While Suosil is still in the very first stages of its existence, Andrey Likhachev wants to thank Business Finland for "the immense help" the startup has received, from the timely guidance and providing all the necessary information to the extensive networking opportunities.

"Now that we have started the company, we have a lot of work ahead of us and we will continue working with Business Finland to reach our goals."

Similarly, Likhachev wants to express his gratitude to the professionals at MikseiMikkeli.

"We appreciate their support very much. Even in this difficult time of restrictions, we were able to form a company and organize work remotely due to professional support."

Photo credit: Suosil