I have to ask you the corny but classic sports question. How does it feel?
Gustaf: It feels incredible that I am receiving this prize, founded by amazing organisations with such a great purpose. It is almost slightly embarrassing that we have won when there were so many smart companies with solutions to global challenges participating alongside us.
How does one get into the world of fossil free fertilisers? How did it all begin?
G: I was raised on a farm before I went on to study engineering physics and finally became an agronomist. So, I have a combination of physics and agriculture in me. My motivation has always been to solve different environmental challenges within agriculture and industry, it is something I have been working on for quite some time now. I had the initial idea for NitroCapt in 2006. I was searching through patent databases, reading articles and so on, but I could not find anything similar. Of course, that could mean it is a terrible idea, but since I didn’t know I had to explore it further. Around the same time, the company I worked for closed which then became my chance to fully focus on my idea. I contacted my genius co-founder Peter Baeling, a creative and experienced civil engineer. He found the idea very interesting and even added a few suggestions on how it could be developed further. Together with researchers from all over Europe, who have been working on this on a goodwill basis, we have been able to develop the idea and eventually apply for patents.
How have you been able to make a living during this process? How do you make the startup lifestyle work?
G: I have been working as a consultant part time. Then we joined the InnoEnergy Highway programme and have been receiving a lot of support from them and from the research that has been done.
You are the second company from Uppsala that has taken home the grand prize. Would you say that there is a strong startup culture there?
G: There is an incredible drive in Uppsala, with two universities and a strong focus on environment, health, and innovation. Several of the companies on the list of “33” by Ny Teknik are from Uppsala.
Do you have any role models?
G: Bill Gates is a big role model, giving his assets to research and development. I also have a lot of role models within human rights, like Nelson Mandela. I look up to strong people that dare to take on gigantic challenges and never give up, believing that they are doing a good thing and contributing to a better world.
Allowing yourself to dream, where do you see NitroCapt in ten years?
G: Of course I believe that what we are doing is going to go great! We have a business plan where we try to predict how quickly we can expand. Our plan is to increase our market share globally. If things work out the way we think and hope we will become the preferred choice for the new, emerging fertiliser industry. At the same time, new technologies are being developed which means there are plenty of things that could potentially overturn our plan. But a lot is pointing towards our business being very successful.
How is this prize going to affect your day-to-day life?
G: More than anything, it brings a lot of new enthusiasm and confidence to our team that is already very driven when it comes to solving environmental challenges and working towards a better world. It feels great to be backed by this as we aim to double our team over a short period of time.
Is the farm still in your family?
G: It is still in the family, and I like to spend time there in my free time.
Is there anything you would like to add?
G: The energy challenge is an important part of the transition to a climate neutral society where we live in harmony with nature and with what the planet can handle. Because of this, the prize you have created, with its focus on solutions within energy and the politics thereof, is making a big difference. Moreover, it’s great to see GodEl and Ellevio collaborate on these topics, a collaboration I hope can be strengthened even further in the future.
Where is the farm located?
G: It is in the triangle formed between Sala, Västerås and Enköping. It is called Norra Hovberga.