Success Story 27.10.2020

Interview with Imagine Intelligent Materials

Arttu Närhi

Arttu Närhi

In the Combient Foundry Venture Client Cycle of Fall 2019, Stora Enso, a global renewable materials leader, met with Imagine Intelligent Materials, a sensing surfaces platform company. With Foundry, the two entered discussions to co-develop real-time wooden structure leak and strain detection technology.

We sat down with Jaakko Kaidesoja, President of Imagine, to talk about how the collaboration has started off. Even before the agreement was struck, Kaidesoja had a good impression of what was in store.

“[The Foundry companies] were good target companies from our point of view,” Kaidesoja recollects what got them interested in joining the Foundry Cycle in the first place. “The theme [of the opportunity] was also well in our scope.” 

He goes on to say they had already been developing solutions to be used in smart buildings. 

“We develop a graphene smart surface,” he explains. “The intelligence comes from electrical conductivity: you can interpret electrical signals running through the surface and pinpoint what’s going on and where on the surface.”

“Through the innovative technology of Imagine, Stora Enso finds new applicable pathways to improve its smart and digital building solutions,” says David Blomquist, Director of Digital Business for Wood Products at Stora Enso. 

“Sometimes the back-and-forth can last for two months,” Kaidesoja says. “With Combient Foundry, we had the same done in two weeks.”

On top of the sensor, Imagine delivers signal processing, analytics and data visualization to their clients too, all developed in-house. They began their work with Stora Enso by demonstrating how the solution works with wood products. The first demo was a 1 meter square wood surface coated with the graphene sensor that was soaked with water to show how wet the surface is getting and where with Imagine’s app.

“After that, we started the second phase: demoing it to Stora Enso’s clients,” Kaidesoja says. “We had a bit of luck too: one of their clients needed a commercial solution, fast.”

Imagine went on to produce a 400 square meter installation on top of a skyscraper. The team found Stora Enso’s responsiveness to the new situation impressive: Imagine got the call immediately when Stora Enso heard of the issue. Jaakko recalls the same can-do attitude back at Foundry’s Value Proposition Days.

“We went really deep into the topic when the Stora Enso team opened up about their needs,” Kaidesoja says. “The idea of exactly what we can do was right there, so we scoped the potential solution on the spot.”

Stora Enso brought understanding of wood construction technology as an entirely new area into Imagine’s toolbox. “This is the information we need from a client, in order to commercialize a solution,” Kaidesoja explains.

“Co-creating with Imagine and piloting with valued customers in agile ways, we have identified new business models, relevant and efficient solutions for sustainable building operations, establishing opportunities in enriching the processes working with wood and timber within the building and construction industry,” says David Blomquist.

Kaidesoja also gives thanks to Stora Enso’s speed at the Value Proposition Days. “I liked their team, made up of good representatives from technical and sales backgrounds. It was exceptionally fast, the fastest movement I’ve ever had with a corporation.”

The team from Imagine found the Foundry approach to the Value Proposition Days to work well too. The first hour of workshopping together with Stora Enso, followed by further refining the solution before the next hour-long workshop on the following day enabled both parties to pull the whole thing together in a couple of days. 

“Sometimes the back-and-forth can last for two months,” Kaidesoja says. “With Combient Foundry, we had the same done in two weeks.”