Stora Enso invites startups to join forces

After a successful first run, Stora Enso is launching a new Accelerator program. The quest is now on for innovative ideas for the circular economy.

Annamari Typpö, 19.09.2018

Stora Enso’s first Accelerator program was a pioneering success. So much so, that the global renewable materials company has decided to run a second program. Done in cooperation with Aalto University Developing Entrepreneurship (Aalto ENT) and Vertical, this program will focus on radical ideas and disruptive solutions in the circular economy.

The one-of-a-kind Accelerator program will give six selected startups the opportunity to work with Stora Enso leadership and talents who will help the startups explore solutions in the circular economy that could lead to additional collaboration opportunities.

The program combines hands-on work with executive education. This is where Aalto ENT comes into the picture.

“It’s a fantastic opening for startups, and we’re proud to be part of the program for the second year in a row,” says Aalto ENT’s Minna Wickholm, Business Area Director, Open Enrollment Programs and Networks.

The executive education provided by Aalto ENT brings together theory and practice, academic knowledge and business know-how. For Stora Enso, the program provides new tools, competencies, and insights that the company can utilize as a leading player in the bioeconomy.

Last year’s Accelerator program focused on digital solutions particularly around smart factories, supply chain, customer experience and renewable products. It brought Stora Enso continued collaboration with several startups, for example a partnership with Sulapac, a creator of a fully biodegradable packaging solution made of renewable and sustainable raw materials.

Working side by side

The six chosen startups team up with talents from Stora Enso, selected through a rigorous application process. Each team is also assigned a coach from the Stora Enso Group Leadership Team.

The Stora Enso talents are set to become change catalysts in their own organization."

“The Stora Enso talents are set to become change catalysts in their own organization. To this end, we introduce a wide variety of tools, methods, and processes that they can easily adapt to their day-to-day work and that help them in leading change,” Wickholm says.

In Stora Enso’s transformation into a renewable materials growth company, speed, agility, and flexibility are of key importance. It’s no surprise that for Stora Enso, one of the main benefits of the program is learning how startups think, work, and approach problems.

“The Stora Enso talents get to live and work as entrepreneurs and be part of the new ecosystem for the program’s duration. This gives them new ideas and insights that they can bring back to their own organization,” Wickholm says.

Access to senior leadership

For the six selected startups, the program offers a unique opportunity to learn first-hand and get input and support from an industry leader when developing their solutions.

“In the startup world, the customer is one of the most important elements for success. The startups chosen to participate in the Accelerator program get the chance to co-create together with a potential customer, which may eventually lead to a new product-market fit.”

The startups chosen to participate in the Accelerator program get the chance to co-create together with a potential customer, which may eventually lead to a new product-market fit.”

It’s not often that startups have a chance to enter discussions with a major corporation of Stora Enso’s caliber, Wickholm points out.

“Stora Enso’s executive management plays an active role in the program, supporting and facilitating the process. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” she says.

Additional input comes from Vertical, which provides a framework for the co-creation and co-development process and supports the startups during the program.

Focus on circular economy

This year, the call is for startups specializing in supply chain technologies, IoT, big data, analytics, machine learning, AI, VR, robotics, automation, or hardware systems that can be the basis for solutions in the circular economy.

“Stora Enso has embarked on a journey to replace fossil-based materials with renewable ones, and this program is supporting this ambition,” Wickholm concludes.

Do you have an idea or a technology that could have a radical impact on circular economy? Read more and apply.

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