Smartups: the new wave of cleantech

Smartups: New wave of cleantech from Demos Helsinki on Vimeo.

There is something really intriguing going on in the world of startups: The biggest and the most interesting new companies in the world are very particular. Airbnb, Tesla and Uber, BlaBla car, Sidecar, Scoot Networks, Nest,, Piggybaggy, Foodtrade and many more… They seem a different breed. They all mention terms such as sharing economy, cleanweb, smart city, smart home and smart mobility.

We call these companies smartups. They are startups that free their users from the use of natural resources. This is a new wave of cleantech, kind of consumer cleantech. Before, cleantech was about large scale efficient and centralized industrial processes and maybe clean water systems: huge, efficient machines and hightech. Now it’s about smarter ways of living, moving about and housing. It changes our lifestyles and creates new markets by doing so.

What is interesting is that when startups start dealing with the material world, they are suddenly disrupting really big businesses. Think of this: Consumer cleantech innovations are related to activities that consume most of our natural resources: homes, mobility and food. These activities also eat most of people’s money. In the EU, for instance, people spend more than third of their income on housing, tenth on mobility and nearly fifth on food. We are talking about tens of thousands of euros here, on a yearly basis per person. Just to make a comparison: In communications and entertainment people spend about 10 % of their yearly income, which is a fraction of that.

Now, if you like to change cities and urban environments, the smartest thing you can do is to join the smartup movement.