Idea Challenge Finals: Staying Cool in Sweden with the Internet of Things

By Silicon Allee |

This is a guest post by Sanaz Nayeb of EIT ICT Labs

If there is one city in Europe that truly deserves the label ‘modern’ then surely it is Stockholm. With free wifi coverage in almost all of the city, the ability to pay everywhere with debit or credit card, and bus stops with wooden benches that allow you to sit down in low temperatures without freezing your backside off, the Swedish capital demonstrates a flair for the little things that make a big difference.

This air of modernity also extends to the city’s innovation: Not only can it boast a higher share of renewable energy than pretty much anywhere else, but it also plays host to one of Northern Europe’s – and indeed, the world’s – leading business and innovation districts for ICT, the Kista Science City.

And so it was the perfect venue for the Internet of Things final in the Idea Challenge, a startup competition run by innovation network EIT ICT Labs whose Stockholm node at the Kista Science City welcomed the finalists last week.

From the 790 ideas that have been submitted in eight categories, 163 addressed the topic of IoT. The best 11 teams came to Stockholm to compete in the pitching final with the three winners earning themselves €40,000, €25,000 and €15,000 respectively, in addition to the opportunity to join a top innovation network, free office space for six months at one of EIT ICT Labs’ offices across Europe, and coaching and mentoring from its Business Development Accelerator.

About 150 guests including VCs gathered at the brand new and very arty auditorium of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) to listen to the pitches as well as a keynote by Johan Falk, head of the Intel IoT ignition lab Stockholm, who grabbed everyone’s attention by dropping the fact that IoT businesses are worth $19 TRILLION.

No pressure on the startups, then – although the Scandinavian climate clearly did its job, as they all remained cool and calm.

In fact, it was the jury, consisting of industry experts, investors, business accelerators and entrepreneurs, who had the toughest job. Judging the quality of innovation and the respective business models, they had to select the best three out of the following ideas:


An Italian startup creating powerful connections between apps and devices from the IoT to perform automatic smart actions.

Coming from Finland, is a simple Internet connected (either via WiFi or 3G) physical push button that can be used for almost anything using the power of the Internet.


This Swedish Think Tank has developed an IoT integration platform that significantly reduces cost, lead time and complexity while improving scalability, reliability and robustness.


Evothings is a startup from Sweden that provides an end-to-end solution for secure traffic for IoT with tiny footprint.


Another Sweden-based team, Imagimob has developed an intelligent and learning wearable device. It can understand body motion, and could trigger any event on a smartphone.


Three international masters students located in Sweden have a vision that offers a neat comprehensive solution to the hassles of urban parking by providing a location-based platform for mobiles.


A French startup which has developed a platform providing disruptive technology to connect, control and play any communicating objects for end-users as well as developers.


The idea of this Swedish startup helps users to map access points and beacons automatically to enable indoor positioning.


Sensewaves from France makes connected assets smarter by transforming raw sensor data into meaningful information.

Shortcut Labs

This Sweden-based startup just launched its new product Flic, a wireless shortcut button that can do practically anything.


A Dutch startup, Undagrid enables the tracking of non-motorised ground support equipment at airports by simply mounting a GSETracker on every trailer.

While the jury withdrew for its final deliberations, the audience had the chance to vote for their favorite team; the Peoples’ Choice award went to Shortcut Labs, who were also the subject of a documentary by the Swedish national television channel.

Shortly after, the jury prizes were awarded: First went to Undagrid, second to Evothings and SenseWaves came in third.

Lennart Schroer, co-founder of Undagrid, said: “We are very proud that our vision on IoT is received this well and we look forward to being part of, and getting support from, the EIT ICT Labs ecosystem.”

And Willem Jonker, CEO of EIT ICT Labs, added: “We are delighted that there were so many excellent and game-changing entries. This competition shows just how aware startups are of ICT challenges facing the industry and society, and how committed they are to be part of the solution for a better future.”

By the end of 2014, the Idea Challenge will have produced 24 winners in total. Some 21 teams have already been awarded in the categories of health and wellbeing, future cloud, cyber physical systems, smart spaces, smart energy systems, Internet of Things and cyber security and privacy; the remaining three winners will be selected at the urban life and mobility pitch final on November 20 in London.