Start-up of the Day: Coolfinity’s sustainable fridges can handle power cuts
What does Coolfinity do?
The aim of Coolfinity is to ensure dependable refrigeration for people living in countries with unreliable power systems. We believe that lengthy power outages and weak power grids in these countries shouldn’t limit people’s lives and opportunities. We consider dependable refrigeration to be a fundamental right. Yet there are over 70 (mostly tropical) countries in the world struggling with inadequate, intermittent and limited power supplies. This leads to unreliable refrigeration which has huge consequences. For example, 20% of food is wasted and 151 million vaccines are lost every year as a result of unreliable refrigeration. Dependable and sustainable refrigeration works as a catalyst for people in emerging markets. It boosts their quality of life.
Coolfinity has designed the IceVolt 300 cooler. This just needs 6 hours of power (solar or electric) in order to be able to stay cool for 24 hours. The cooler is specifically designed to maintain a stable temperature of 5° Celsius for 24 hours. Which is in line with the WHO requirements. If a power outage takes longer, our fridge will remain refrigerating at temperatures between 2-8 °C for almost 2 days. It works under harsh tropical conditions very effectively (up to 43° Celsius). And because of Coolfinity’s technology, there is no need for a back-up power generator. Coolfinity will reduce food wastage, protect costly medication and save precious lives around the world through their unique and innovative refrigeration solution.
Where did the idea for the company come from?
I am an industrial designer and I have over 25 years of experience in sustainable product development as well as marketing with various companies, including Heineken. At Heineken I was confronted with the challenge of power outages in sub-Saharan Africa and the lack of refrigeration. My team and I radically redesigned traditional refrigerator technology in order to come up with this innovative solution. Unfortunately, as refrigeration is not the core business of a beer company, the project was discontinued at a certain point. While I was sitting on the couch, disappointed because I saw so much potential in the fridge, my wife asked me: “Why don’t you take the fridge to the market yourself?” And that’s exactly what I did.
Is there a lot of competition in this market?
There are companies that have attempted a similar solution in the commercial sector, but without any success up until now. There are a few solutions available in the medical field. But we believe that our solution is by far the most cost efficient and the most effective.
What are the main obstacles?
Being new in the market means that you need to invest a lot of energy, thought and money in order to make yourself known to potential customers.
What are you proud of?
My team and I are very proud that after two years of very hard and dedicated work and belief in the aims and possibilities of our product, we are now starting to be acknowledged by relevant parties around the world. We’ve received several important prizes this year. One being an Innovation Award Honoree in the “Tech for a better world” category at the upcoming 2020 CES show. We’ve been invited by CES to showcase our product there in Las Vegas early next year, the biggest tech trade fair in the world.
Aside from that, we’re thrilled that we now have a representative office in Mali, a country in one of our key markets. When it comes to doing business in West Africa, our main market, it’s necessary to have a business presence on the ground there. That way, people can see the product and better understand it.
What are the plans for 2020?
This year we launched our IceVolt 300M medical cooler worldwide during the MEDICA trade fair in Dusseldorf. We will be launching our IceVolt 300 commercial cooler internationally during the CES 2020 trade show.
Besides all that, in 2020 we’re aiming for support from NGOs, hopefully expand our representative offices in crucial markets and be successful in bringing our refrigeration solutions to those people in the world who most need it.
What is your goal for the coming five years?
In the coming five years we want to expand our business, reach more markets and more people. We also see a role for ourselves in developing refrigeration solutions that contribute to the energy transition. This is something we need to do in light of climate change. We have begun a pilot in Drenthe, The Netherlands where we’re making effective use of peaks in solar energy. We unburden the power network this way when an unwanted peak in solar energy supply occurs. Also, we’re aiming to save on energy usage and costs, seeing that our fridge only needs to be powered for 6 hours in order to be able to cool effectively for 24 hours. The initial results look very promising.