William Bergh is a young Swedish entrepreneur who founded Cling Systems, the B2B platform that connects the battery ecosystem to ensure batteries are reused, repurposed and recycled. We had the pleasure to talk with him and learn more about his circular economy business project:
1.Could you tell us about your professional background and why you chose to focus your career on circular economy?
The circular economy is something that has always fascinated and really gripped me. Cling Systems was born out of a desire to close the loop of lithium-ion battery systems and a few different experiences from my professional and personal life informed the decision to start it. I studied engineering at Lund University in Sweden and when I was there, together with some friends founded Lund Formula Student’s very first electric formula racing team and developed the first electric driveline. That provided a fascinating preview of the challenges of developing and running a project and team focused on mobility. As my studies were coming to a conclusion, I did my Masters Thesis at Northvolt mapping the logistics of EV batteries and lithium-ion battery recycling. Those experiences got me thinking about how to change the perception of waste. I also spend some of my studies within Environmental Science in Hawaii which really provided a window into how we need to respect the environment.
2.How does Cling´s B2B market platform work?
We work to match supply and demand and eliminate as much friction as possible in the trade. This means assembling and structuring loads of battery data. Once a trade is established, we move on to managing compliant shipping, the transfer of liability, and safe payments. The regulations point is important as the supply chain is very extensive, given where battery materials are dug up, where they are refined, where they are manufactured in gigafactories – these often are on different continents so the industry is a global one. We have to stay nimble so who knows how it will look in 12 months’ time as the sector moves so quickly.
3.Who can participate?
There are so many players in the industry and it is constantly shifting, but at the moment we view the sell side as companies such as OEMs, fleet owners, insurance providers, diagnostic providers, repair workshops, and car dismantlers. The buy side is remanufacturers, repurporsers and recyclers. Within those groups, we assess and vet those looking to use our platform so that the buyers are professional players and trustworthy. We spend a lot of time building up relationships with other industry players and that is very important for us.
4.How does your company contribute to the environment?
A sustainable society is dependent on sustainable batteries. Sustainable batteries are dependent on circularity. Cling enables circularity. Enabling reuse, repurposing and recycling of EV batteries means that material that makes up new batteries does not need to be dug out the ground, often at considerable cost to the environment. Our platform will mean emissions are avoided and the more batteries we can exchange, the more we can contribute towards batteries being seen less as a cost or even waste, and more as an asset. By digitizing this waste, we can make it an accessible and valuable resource.
5.Which was the main challenge you faced to launch your business project?
Like any startup, getting funding for the business was a crucial requirement and we completed our seed fundraise of 2.3m USD led by Trucks VC and First Venture, as well as angel investors. Fundraising involves many parallel conversations and takes a lot longer than you think it will so that was a big challenge that we needed to complete. The investors are very supportive and have really helped us accelerate the vision we have for the company.
6.Do you have any young talent that inspired your career?
Many. There are incredible people everywhere that has inspired me – in my university classes, high school friends, and of course online and in newspapers. I think peer-inspiration often is overlooked. Look around, who do you see that inspires and motivates you?