Industrial deep tech and sustainability may sound like extreme opposites, but when Husqvarna Group and innovation hub THINGS announced the launch of the innovation contest Sustainovate Open this spring, it was a perfect challenge for Ekkono to take on. Ekkono’s Edge Machine Learning software is ideal to apply on an IoT device like the Automower® robotic lawn mower. When Husqvarna Group and THINGS announced the winner of Sustainovate Open 2020 on November 5, Ekkono’s is the winner of with “Automower® Concept R”.
Team Ekkono Sustainovate Open 2020: Linn Sidahl, Head of Business Development, Simon Hedström, Edge Machine Learning Engineer, Jon Lindén, CEO and Ellinor Bokedal, Marketing Director (not in photo)
Most people have a relationship with Husqvarna Group. What might have been a sewing machine way back in the days is probably a robotic lawn mower today. A product- and solutions company like Husqvarna Group is of course happy that Swedes and everyone else around the world has discovered their incredible products, but producing hardware also means an extra level of responsibility when it comes to sustainability. In Husqvarna Group’s case they’ve incorporated Sustainovate – a plan to lead their industry in the shift to a resource-smart economy. In May 2020, the company launched Sustainovate Open – a circular innovation challenge which recognizes and rewards the most disruptive ideas that bring people, nature and urban environments together, while contributing to a circular economy.
Smarter Products = More Sustainable
All these “things” – Husqvarna Groups devices that nowadays has come to revolutionize our daily lives – are supplied with sensors to allow them to “think” to do the job. Ekkono’s unique Edge Machine Learning is a perfect fit for a product like the Automower® robotic lawn mower, to use the data from the sensors and train new models on the device – on the edge. That way we enable the machine’s true potential and make it intuitive, self-learning, optimized – and sustainable. With Ekkono, the hardware won’t need to be replaced but instead updated with new software features. Less hardware production, smarter products and even longer-lasting customer relationships.
– Future business models won’t be about selling more things. It will be about extending the relationship with existing products and earning money from them throughout their entire lifecycle. We strongly believe that Edge Machine Learning will be the next big sustainability leap, and this challenge means that we can showcase to Husqvarna Group exactly what that could imply for their products, said Linn Sidahl, Head of Business Development, Ekkono, at the start of the challenge.
From Hardware Centric to Software Centric
Said and done, the Sustainovate Open dedicated Ekkono Team presented the first version of the solution in August and made the cut to the final presentation in October. Working 100 % remote in Covid times, the outcome was “Automower® Concept R” – an Edge ML software solution to already existing Automower®, robotic lawn mowers, with the features mentioned above. In tough competition from other startups, Ekkono’s solutions was finally presented as the winner of the very first edition of Sustainovate Open on November 5.
– The reason we exist is not only to put Edge Machine Learning into virtually every single product with some kind of computer out there, it is because we know it will have a huge impact on sustainability. If a product can get new functionalities through new software features, instead of being added to the ever-increasing mountain of plastics, it’s one big step in a circular direction, Linn Sidahl continues.
Emerging Global Circular Solutions
Husqvarna Group has high ambitions to integrate circular solutions into their business. The Sustainovate Circular target aims to launch 50 circular innovations by 2025. AI, machine learning, and data-driven services drive many of these circular services, such as sharing, renting, and maintenance for their products. Sustainovate Open offers a unique and effective space to learn, collaborate and cooperate with others, which enables circular solutions to emerge.
– Sustainovate Open received many brilliant ideas and visions covering our entire value chain. What set Ekkono Solutions apart was how they surpassed the jury’s criteria with their deep understanding of how to use smarter and more connected products to create value for the planet and our customers, says Anna-Karin Lindblom, Director of Accelerated Innovation at Husqvarna Group.
Sustainability in Ekkono’s DNA
The price, more than the honor, is a 300 000 SEK pilot budget for developing a Proof of Concept with Husqvarna Group, with the objective to scale the solution and bring it to a global market that will start in November.
– Sustainability is Ekkono’s driving force and has been part of the company DNA since the very start. Seeing how our technology can make third-party companies’ products more sustainable is our main mission, as well as inspiration. The Concept R idea is a bit of a company dream and we are excited to do the PoC together with Husqvarna Group. We also hope to inspire new ideas for Husqvarna Group going forward! Linn Sidahl ends.
Husqvarna® and Automower® are registered trademarks owned by Husqvarna AB.