Households account for almost 20% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Political efforts to offset this environmental burden are driving demand for more energy efficient buildings. The Enterprise Europe Network helped an Estonian manufacturer of green buildings take advantage of this opportunity by expanding into Sweden, where they have laid the foundations for more sustainable housing. With two contracts in Sweden, together worth EUR 2.5 million, Timbeco is now looking to expand even further.
Timbeco’s prefabricated timber frames are made from Nordic pine certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Cross-laminated timber makes the construction durable and gives high levels of insulation, thus reducing energy requirements. Its production is also a lot less energy intensive than other building materials such as concrete.
"The entire industry is moving towards energy efficiency," said Oliver Immato, sales manager at Timbeco. "Costs are also getting higher, meaning there is a need to build cheaper houses and that’s where prefabricated housing comes in. We were keen to establish ourselves in this growing international market."
Timbeco builds its timber frames, designed for fast installation, in Estonia. The SME was aware of a growing demand for such sustainable and cost-effective housing and sought to find new markets in Sweden, but wasn't sure where to begin. Oliver turned to the Enterprise Europe Network, the world’s largest support network for SMEs with international ambitions. His first step was to take part in a matchmaking event arranged by two Network members, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Swedish organisation Teknikdalen Foundation.
Teknikdalen Foundation used its local expertise to match up the different needs of the attendees and arranged meetings with commercial partnership potential between Estonian and Swedish companies.
"This type of matchmaking works very well,” said Marie Ericson, project manager at Teknikdalen Foundation. “It only takes one to two hours and the results can provide a huge payoff."
Oliver attended four meetings during his trip, one of which was with representatives of the Falun Municipality in Sweden which expressed a strong interest in Timbeco’s green buildings. Following the meeting, the municipality informed Timbeco about a tender to build a retirement home, which the SME subsequently won.
By expanding into Sweden’s construction sector, Timbeco is now setting sustainable standards across borders. Not only does its timber capture carbon from the atmosphere, any wood waste or sawdust produced during manufacturing is used to heat its factory. The SME also optimises all processes to ensure its prefabricated houses are as energy efficient as possible.
These green credentials, along with its quality and cost competitiveness, helped convince the Falun municipality to contract Timbeco again, this time to build a kindergarten. Both buildings have since become major calling cards for the Estonian SME in the Swedish market.
"We were looking for new business opportunities with long term partners and were struggling to find them, but we knew the Network could help," said Oliver. "They set up meetings with several companies, but the local municipality was the most suitable partner and it worked very well for us."