We were able to have a chat with Kristin Skofteland, Chief Commercial Officer & Legal Counsel at Beyonder.
Let’s start with getting to know you a bit better. Who are Beyonder, and what are you doing?
Beyonder is a green tech scale-up company founded in 2016. We are a battery technology company that has developed the next generation of eco-friendly and energy-efficient batteries. By using our patented process, we transform sawdust (residue material) into active material. The significant part of this is that our batteries don’t use any scarce materials.
Currently, we have a small-scale production facility in Sandnes (Stavanger), however we are in the process of scaling up our production by building a new battery factory at Haugalandet.
Using sawdust to create batteries, that’s an innovative process! But where will you be getting all the sawdust? Will you be cutting down trees yourselves? That can’t be very environmental.
We get many questions like that, but I can assure you we don’t intend to cut down any extra trees for this! We have an agreement with Norwegian timber group Bergene Holm whereby they supply us with sawdust from their own operations. We will need cooperation agreements with other companies as well, but first we need to establish our own production facilities.
Another exciting collaboration is the one with Trefadder, a Norwegian initiative for the financing of climate forests in Norway in addition to climate compensation. Together we are researching which parts of the tree and which trees are best for our purposes. We are also exploring the use of other materials such as plastic and seaweed. Our aim is for the production process and end-products to be as sustainable as possible.
Why Haugalandet? Many companies decide to outsource their production to countries where it might be less costly, which you also explored, but what made you decide on Norway?
It was due primarily to the government’s signals of major investments in batteries, increased exports and the availability of electricity to the industry. For us it was important to appreciate these signals and keep production in Norway. It was also critical for us to find a location with well-established industrial muscle that can support an overall industry-scale operation. We found all of that in Haugalandet, which will aid our focus on building synergies with existing industry and upcoming establishments in the park.
We hope it will create an interest in jobs within technology and battery development, as this will help to build up competence in Norway which will be needed in future. Furthermore, it will create at least 500-600 direct jobs, and when the factory is running in full with ten production lines, estimates indicate it could be as many as 2000 jobs. This is in addition to the beneficial effects for local businesses during and after construction.
Another important factor is the geopolitical picture. The world is in constant change and has been particularly unstable in recent years. We do not want to make ourselves dependent on production in other countries and rely on materials from other markets.
Putting two and two together, local competence and the drive for innovation is important for you. Are you working on any other exciting and innovative projects?
You’ve understood us correctly! There is a global demand for sustainable storage solutions, especially high-power storage, so we are also working on the fast charging of EVs (electric vehicles). Moreover, we are working on getting pilots out in 2023/2024 of our electrified two-and three-wheelers such as mining trucks and forklifts. These are all products which will fit into the UK market and are one of the reasons why we are involved in NBCC.
You mentioned your involvement in NBCC, could you expand on that?
First of all, we consider the UK/British market to be an important one for Beyonder technology. For us to expand into the UK, we first need to do some research into the market and the actors currently in play. We aim to continuously improve our technology and find new innovative solutions. To do so we need to be part of a vibrant community that has the same values. Hence, we also need to establish collaborations with organisations, universities and partners. That’s our second reason for joining NBCC as we hope to be introduced to potential clients and partners. We would like to connect with the larger businesses, many of whom are already members of your organisation.
It is all linked to our views on the importance of technology, ingenuity and talent as we try to make a better world for everyone.
Well, we need innovation and we need to think smart and new to get into the green shift. It’s no secret that we also need to manage the transition. Alone we can do little, but together we can achieve so much. Cooperation is therefore needed, but we also need to capture the imaginations of students and young professionals. If they don’t have an interest in the field or the skills, we won’t get very far. That’s why we want collaborations with universities because we need to engage with the students and hear their views on, and solutions for the problems we are trying to solve.
If a student wants to get involved, how can they do so? And what could companies such as Beyonder do to get them more involved?
Firstly, companies should work closely with universities and give them tasks/projects their students can work on. They can’t guess what we are looking for, so we need to show them what the industries need. When Beyonder is looking for people to contribute to developing our technology we are looking at competence. It can be competence in various fields such as batteries, chemistry, software, IT and AI, however as long as you have the motivation to work hard and an interest in what you are doing, you will go far. Once we achieve our goal of full-scale factories, we will also need other types of engineers and operators to run them.
Over to the students, how can they get involved?
Contact us! We love it when students make contact when they have an idea or want to cooperate for their bachelor/master thesis. It may not always be the right fit for them or for us, but it never hurts to reach out!
Let’s hope many students reach out! If we take a step back, where do you think trade between Norway and the UK will be in 10 years?
It will hopefully continue to develop in a positive direction. Collaboration with the UK is and always has been easy. There’s just a short distance between us when it comes to culture, geographical distance and language. We are used to doing trade and making exchanges with the UK, and we should focus on exploiting that fact.
Do you have an example of what Norway and Norwegian companies could do to foster this relationship?
Norwegians are excellent at fostering new, innovative and smart solutions. We are not as good, however, at scaling up, and it’s often the case that great innovations stall after their first pilot in Norway. The UK, on the other hand, has more focus on scaling up and can offer a bigger market and more muscle. Norwegian companies should therefore initiate collaboration and learn from their UK counterparts when upscaling their product or innovation.
That’s a very interesting observation! Thank you so much for your time Kristin and for allowing us to get to know Beyonder better. We look forward to work with you!