Cleantech Högdalen is a cluster of environmental technology businesses in the Stockholm industrial suburb of Högdalen and run as a project and budgetary assignment from the City of Stockholm. It was founded by Tillväxtverket (Board of Enterprises), Vinnova (Board of Innovation), Stockholm Cleantech, IVL, Svensk Solenergi, Science Partner, Högdalsgruppen and the County Administrative Board of Stockholm. Despite initial lack of interest from local actors, Cleantech Högdalen managed to establish testbeds such as organic waste management development. Throughout the project, a network of more than 100 private and public enterprises focussing on sustainable energy, systems integration and energy optimisation has been established.
Local property owners in Högdalen prospected for new ways of improving existing buildings in innovative ways. Cleantech Högdalen decided to test indoors cultivation of food products, since this concept was largely unexplored in Stockholm. While the promotion of green technologies and local businesses was the main objective, a driving vision was also to create job opportunities for people with professional disadvantages while creating prerequisites for more sustainable food production. Thus, Odlande Stadsbasarer was initiated in 2017, cultivating greens in abandoned
facilities in central Högdalen.
Good practices & solutions
In 2016, the municipality of Botkyrka had intended, with support from Vinnova, a pilot of cultivation in garage buildings, but had soon withdrawn due to highly calculated costs. Learning by their example, Odlande Stadsbasarer made sure only to use existing and unused buildings in order to keep down expenses. From an early stage, dialogue within the consortium was centered around recognizing approaches and operations with positive results and then cautiously scaling these up. Enterprises with sufficient financial capacity would cover their own expenses and risks when overtaking property targeted for growing, since it was considered unsustainable to demand this risk to be taken by public actors.
Furthermore, moving from a general business innovation approach to a more particular focus on each involved enterprise proved more feasible. Keeping the main focus of supporting local business and commerce innovation, rather than “improving the world”, has also guided the project.
KTH researchers investigated the results with regards to sustainable cultivation. Participating actors were left free to communicate and promote their efforts, sometimes in isolation and other times in collaboration.
Outcome & opportunities
The project established a small-scale underground food cultivation in Högdalen, using and selling its products in local establishments. The entire project in Stockholm and Helsingborg has contributed to employment of 10 people, 2 have gained employment in Högdalen as a result of the project.
Region Stockholm’s Growth and Regional Planning Department has given financial support to Invest Stockholm for investigating whether 10% of Stockholm’s food production could be realised in a similar fashion.
Possible scaling up will first show pilots of the project and promote the philosophy behind urban indoors food cultivation and then evolve into testbeds. Other future plans include the establishment of a local and vibrant co-working space, combining Food Tech and Clean Tech.
Lessons learned & recommendations
Co-creating innovation driven collaboration in itself was deemed a considerable challenge by the organising partners, above all the prospect of creating something previously unexplored. Coordinating the consortium demanded high levels of openness and letting go of prestige. The other main challenges concerned knowledge and acceptance. KTH, SLU (and Swedish research in general) had scarce experience of investigating the concept of urban gardening, although it is a vital part of many international urban regions such as Singapore. Few actors, public or private, allow for or support progressive development of property or estate. The public sector is also not considered a frontrunner for innovation in general, which creates a stepping stone for scaling up the project.
Funding agencies such as Vinnova could support projects further, i.e. by using recommendations from previous technological insights. Public social authorities or researchers are the actors best suited for calculating the socio-economical pros and cons of a project such as Odlande stadsbasarer. It is also highly advised to map international urban systems and urban policies in general to see what is going on in with regards to sustainable innovation without assuming that Stockholm is at the forefront – which is far from always the case.
Engaged partners & stakeholder groups
Invest Stockholm, KTH, Rågsveds folkets hus, Citycon, City of Stockholm, SLU, local residents, local
start-ups, CleanTech Högdalen.
Project: Stockholm Co-creation