SWEDISH SUSTAINABILITY FOUNDATION

ABOUT THE SWEDISH SUSTAINABILITY FOUNDATION

The Purpose of the Foundation

The purpose of the Foundation is to initiate and support science based innovative projects within the areas of environment and health.

It shall disseminate latest science and technology for the benefit of presently marginalized people.

The supported projects shall be sustainable in the long term considering the technological, medical, ethical, environmental and political aspects, support equality and welfare and have long term economical soundness.

So far, the Foundation has supported three projects

Medicine to cure arsenic poisoning

Based on research made in the USA, with the main purpose of developing a cure against Parkinson’s disease, a PhD from Karolinska, born in Bangladesh, has started a company, Viola Vitalis. Viola Vitalis has developed a drug that cures arsenic poisoning by chelating the arsenic (the arsenic can bind to the drug which the body can then exude) and by improving the immune system. Clinical trials have been made and limited production has started. The government of Bangladesh has approved the drug and now Viola Vitalis is working towards financing mass production in order to meet a planned order from the authorities of Bangladesh. There are mixed opinions about the magnitude of the health problem caused by arsenic poisoning, but approximately 50 million people in Bangladesh are affected by arsenic in water from wells. India, Nepal, Vietnam, China, South America and North Korea are just a few of the countries that have similar problems. While there is currently a debate whether the threshold safety values should be adjusted from 50 to 10 micrograms per litre (in Bangladesh it is not uncommon with several hundred) new studies have shown that even levels under 10 micrograms can be injurious, especially for pregnant women. The Foundation has supported Viola Vitalis that has in the process grown from one to eighteen employees.

Method to purify water from arsenic

Based on a new Swedish water-purifying technique, which is being evaluated since the beginning of 2012 by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (SERI) and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) at Sjöstadsverket in Stockholm, a researcher from KTH has developed an equipment to remove the arsenic from water drawn from wells in Bangladesh, a well-known problem that until now lacked a solution. The researcher’s Masters project has been supported by the Foundation and has led to Sida providing 2.7 MSEK in project support for him, two professors and a PhD student from Nepal to make an implementation study in Bangladesh. The health ministry in Bangladesh has pronounced its interest in equipping up to 13000 public clinics with the equipment. Also here the Foundation has been active from the start.

Improved methods to grow spirulina

Spirulina is a type of alga that has become very popular in the last decade within the health-minded community in the western world. It is sold at high prices in health stores due to its beneficial properties which are well documented in research reports. The Foundation has supported a group of Indian researchers that have developed a method to grow spirulina in a cost-efficient way in local tanks or ponds. The idea is that, if such a nutritious crop can be developed into an affordable complement to regular staple food, it would have a great impact on all the diseases caused by bad nutrition that lead to deficient immune defences just to mention one of the consequences. The Foundation has demonstrated the project to potential funders and the Swedish hamburger chain Max took the concept and started their own project in Africa. That was kind of a let down for the Foundation, but in a way it was in line with the objectives of the Foundation.

The plan

Exploitation of science for industry and welfare

There are more scientists at work today than in the rest of human history combined. We have to make sure that all this science is not shelved in academia but comes to good practical use.

Technology transfer from high-tech countries/areas to low tech countries/areas

During the last century, industry has made tremendous advances in many countries. It is now important to spread these advances to other countries/areas as well.  

Support innovative start-up companies

There is a multitude of good ideas and industrious people in the world. Good evaluation is necessary to make sure that financial resources go to powerful ventures.

Implement sustainable solutions

Recent industrial development has been hectic and not always considered possible negative consequences to human life and to the environment. We have to learn from past mistakes and attempt to prevent new ones.

Finance of innovative projects

Because of recent changes in the financial sectors, finance is today seldom available for innovative entrepreneurs in highly industrialized countries, and even less in less industrialized countries. The Foundation strives to instigate and support new financing schemes like investment guarantees, subsidised vouchers and micro finance.