Kuva: NaturVention

Published August 20, 2014

Sitra invests in NaturVention, developer of FreshWall active plant walls

According to estimates, half a million people in Finland suffer from indoor air problems that cost up to three billion euros every year. Sitra and a group of other investors have invested a total of 1.1 million euros in NaturVention, a company that has developed an active plant wall which efficiently purifies indoor air. The company, established in 2011, aims to seek growth in international markets.

NaturVention’s plant walls are particularly useful in cases where indoor air problems in premises cannot be repaired or replaced quickly, or if the underlying cause of the problem has not been found.

“NaturVention is a rapidly growing technology company, and its plant walls are in demand internationally. People spend up to 80–90 per cent of their time indoors. People both in Finland and abroad have become aware in recent years of the problems and costs caused by poor indoor air quality,” says Director Sami Tuhkanen of Sitra.

Employing 15 people at its base in Jyväskylä, NaturVention has experience in the environment, health and business sectors.

“This investment enables us to devote ourselves to growth and internationalisation in Asia and elsewhere. To verify the health impacts, we collect feedback from customers on a continuous basis. We expect the scientific study under way at the University of Eastern Finland to bring more proof in support of our internationalisation,” says Niko Järvinen, NaturVention’s CEO.

Purification of indoor air is beneficial in many ways

So far, active plant walls have been installed mostly in offices and public premises, but private homes are expected to show increasing interest. A single plant in the plant wall purifies indoor air over a hundred times more efficiently than a single house plant – and each plant wall features dozens of plants. No soil is used in the plant wall. Plants grow instead in an inorganic growth medium specifically developed for the purpose of purifying air. The plants naturalise air by breaking down harmful chemicals and microbes.

At workplaces, active plant walls can enhance well-being and productivity, reducing costs incurred from absences due to ill health, incapacity for work and premature retirement. Up to 15 per cent of absences due to ill health are related to bad indoor air quality.

Plant walls enhance the pleasantness of indoor spaces. Research indicates that the positive impacts of seeing a natural environment and green plants include lower blood pressure and less active stress hormones. In future, it will probably be possible to grow local food in the form of edible plants, in active green walls.

“Sitra’s purpose is to build sustainable well-being and promote new operating models towards that aim. Nature is known for its beneficial impacts on health and well-being, and the business prospects related to that have yet to be fully exploited in Finland,” says Sami Tuhkanen.

Since 2008, healthcare professionals and organisations in the field have been implementing the Finnish Allergy Programme that recommends hypo-sensitisation treatment and clean indoor air for allergies. Among others, the Allergy and Asthma Federation in Finland recommends that plants should be placed in homes and on public premises.

Further information

Sami Tuhkanen, Director, Business Development and Funding, Sitra, tel. +358 40 548 3482, sami.tuhkanen@sitra.fi

Niko Järvinen, CEO, NaturVention Oy, tel. +358 40 533 9758, niko.jarvinen@naturvention.com

Aki Soudunsaari, COO, NaturVention Oy, tel. +358 40 822 6322, aki.soudunsaari@naturvention.com

Taru Keltanen, Communications Specialist, Sitra, tel. +358 40 674 3246, taru.keltanen@sitra.fi

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