CleanTech Alliance CEO and VP Travel with Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce on 2022 Nordic Mission

Author: Mel Clark, President & CEO, CleanTech Alliance 

Last month, Rachelle Ames, our VP of Economic Development, and I joined the Washington State Department of Commerce delegation and Governor Inslee’s delegation to Finland. 

Attendees included representatives from Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle, WSU Tri-Cities,
other Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP) clusters, and more. The networking within
the clusters and other groups from the state was valuable and helped us tell the story of our
new work and programming at the CleanTech Alliance.

The trip existed to help create connections between Washington State business leaders and
innovative companies across Finland, and was a first key step in executing the MOU signed last
between Washington State and Finland. The MOU was created to deepen ties
between our innovation, clean energy, and maritime industries.

I joined the Governor at a district heating event with Microsoft Finland and Fortum, and at SITRA
for a presentation on the potential for the circular economy. The CleanTech Alliance has a BUILT
working group focused on waste heat and district energy projects, and held a circular
economy event series
last year. I was able to speak to technical details of each event within the
delegation and to help promote member companies active in these spaces.

In addition, Rachelle and I attended events at: 

Nokia’s Executive Experience Center, where we learned about their water-cooled 6G base units that also capture their own waste heat for reuse.

VTT (Finland’s National Lab), which was also attended by the Governor’s delegation, where we learned about the efforts to research and create a Deep Nuclear Repository for Finland. 

U.S. Embassy Reception – attended by a myriad of local business leaders, entrepreneurs, and government officials. 

Member company Neste’s headquarters – where we received updates on the innovations that they have in new feedstocks to create renewable oil, completed efforts to divest of all Russian crude oil, and their innovative technology to return mixed plastic waste to original component chemicals for reuse. 

Startup IQM Quantum Computers – including a fantastic lab tour. 

Wartsila Smart/Connected Ports – highlighting tech that is routing ships into the Port of Seattle with huge advances in fuel savings. 

Maria01 Startup Campus – a community largely funded initially by the City of Helsinki itself. This funding and emphasis on innovation by the city has allowed them to attract startups from across the world to gather in a hub of innovation – complete with a restaurant, gym, and – of course – a sauna! Over 58 languages are spoken on campus, and the official language of the campus is English. Most start-ups spend three years on site; additionally, they host private capital groups and R&D divisions for major Finnish industries.   

Our final stop together was the Faria Cluster Roundtable at the University of Helsinki – a mix of university, accelerator, and business groups focused on spearheading innovations out of the classroom/research lab into real life to benefit the people of Finland. 

Rachelle also spoke at this event, and presented on our BUILT Cluster programs, working groups, and projects: 

Overall, the trip was an amazing ‘level set’ on my personal hopefulness that entrepreneurs, industry, and scientists across our globe will, and already are, doing the work it will take to mitigate climate change and deploy new clean technology advancements into real practice. 

Thank you to the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Innovation Cluster Accelerator Program (ICAP), and logistical support from the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce for making the tour possible!