Industrial challenges in sustainable manufacturing

Leading Lights brings together key stakeholders who are making a difference in furthering the green transition. This is the forum that showcases success cases from collaborations resulting from open innovation projects as well as opportunities for addressing pressing global challenges in manufacturing. Leading Lights 2024, was held at the experiential facilities of Tom Tits Experiment during Science Week in Södertälje.  The event brought together industry leaders, leading startups and leading voices to provide valuable insights to solve industry challenges in sustainability.

During the day, presentations from companies including Scania, Volvo Group, Alfa Laval, Norsk Hydro as well as ShiftLabs, European Digital Innovation Hub, gave insights into their resepctive sustainability challenges. A diverse group of ~ 70 great minds from more than 10 different countries worked together during a workshop based on these challenges.Meanwhile, ten innovative startups, scaleup and projects showcased their inspiring solutions, addressing the crucial challenges in the manufacturing sector. Additionally, the event included matchmaking, smart industry demos as well as experimental games centred around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Tom Tits Experiments facilities.

Towards digitalisation

Policy Officer at the European Commission: European Digital Innovation Hubs, Jaakko Aarnio, was present to talk about the European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs), Digital Decade and the Chips Act.

During his presentation, he highlighted the continuous efforts of the European Union to enable digital transformation in the industry and public sector through a knowledge management cycle, including testing before investing, funding investments, ecosystem networking, skills training, and fostering digitalisation through EDIHs.

Further, he mentioned that the European Union, the European Commission, and a Seal of Excellencies co-fund European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) to enhance connectivity and community balance through thematic working groups and free webinars. The Thematic working groups, such as manufacturing are facilitated voluntarily and have a leader, group moderator, or steering group.

What does the future look like?

CEO of EIT Manufacturing, Caroline Viarouge, gave a keynote speech to wrap up the workshop session titled “What does the future look like? Innovation, technology, and people”.

She talked about how 85% of consumers in Sweden prioritise companies focusing on sustainability and discussed Europe’s future manufacturing trend, highlighting its 2,000,000 enterprises, 82% of EU exports, and 32 million jobs in high-tech manufacturing.

Despite these strong manufacturing capabilities and innovation initiatives, challenges like the skills gap remain given unprecedented exponential advancements in modern-day technology:

For future-proof and sustainable manufacturing, it is important to invest in innovation, technology and people.

Caroline Viarouge, CEO at EIT Manufacturing

Södertälje – Sweden’s sustainable production hub

Vice President and Head of Global Industrial Development at Scania, Lars-Henrik Jörnving, gave a speech presenting Scania and Södertälje as a sustainable production hub in Sweden.

He began his presentation by first acknowledging the words of Caroline Viarouge on the challenges and the necessity of a skilled workforce for the prosperity of European manufacturing.

Lars-Henrik Jörnving introduced Södertälje Science Park a national hub for sustainable production flows and research, focusing on collaborations with Academic Partners, AstraZeneca, and Scania for research and education. According to him, Scania currently employs over 17,000 people in Södertälje, which is home to skilled employees and world-class competence. In his words, “a strategic co-location for global competitiveness”. In line with this, he gave an introduction to Science Week.

Money Matters

Venture Capital company, Butterfly Ventures, participated in the Leading Lights event, contributing with a financial perspective on advancing sustainable manufacturing innovation. Anette Nordvall, Partner & Investor at Butterfly Ventures delivered a keynote titled “Money Matters: how to use funding to deep-tech ventures advantage”.

She presented Butterfly Ventures as a leading tech hardware-focused VC which currently invests in Finland, the Nordics, and the Baltics. Her main admonition to startups was to strive for manufacturing excellence and attractiveness by focusing on sustainable production, company footprint, and emissions. These are areas that VCs like Butterfly Ventures evaluate annually in their fund.

Impactful exchanges 

As a whole, many powerful and impactful connections were formed between companies alongside matchmaking sessions and fun experiential activities at Leading Lights. Looking forward, the anticipated results of this forum are commercial ventures and success stories that will pave the way for operational and technological leadership within the green transition across Europe.

Leading Lights 2024 image gallery

See our image gallery from the entire event

Leading Lights panel discussions

Panel 1: Berg Propulsion & Sleeve: International startup to corporate collaboration

Panel 2: Alfa Laval & TEGnology: Open innovation between startups and corporates

Industry sustainability challenge

Companies demonstrating their products or projects

Inspirational startup pitches

  • Startup pitch 1 – Ann LoCicero, Co-Founder & CEO at SmartFab (Italy) We help people discover, understand, and act faster on insights hidden in their data​
  • Startup pitch 2 – Stefan Lagerkvist, COO at Viking Analytics (Sweden) Continous AI for more sustainable production by MultiViz Vibration
  • Startup pitch 3 – Jon Lindén, Founder & CMO at Ekkono Solutions (Sweden) Edge AI –​The Smart Watch For Products​
  • Startup pitch 4 – Pavel Marek, CEO & Co-founder at BAMOMAS – Battery Intelligence as a Service (Finland) We bring intelligence​ to battery systems​
  • Start-up Pitch 5 – Hanna Johansson, CEO & co-founder at Adsorbi (Sweden) – The future of air purification

Disseminated external projects


ShiftLabs which stands for The Swedish Network for Sustainable Digitalisation and Human-Centric Factory Transformation (European Digital Innovation Hub) is funded by the European Union’s Digital Europe Programme. ShiftLabs supports small and medium-sized manufacturing companies in their adoption and implementation of new digital technologies.



The LEONARDO project aims to transform Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) education by establishing innovative teaching methods, materials, and tools with a human-centric approach. To do so, the project will leverage an industry 5.0 replica of a brewing system as a hands-on learning environment for students.



SESAM which stands for SustainablE Steel Additive Manufacturing aims to explore whether the technology can lower the climate impact of production, make large metallic structures simpler to build, and give rise to new business models.

Additionally, the projects RESTORE, Voltage, and Digitala Stambanan have been presented on stage.

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