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He wants Europe to exchange oil and natural gas for heat pumps

Fredrik Rosenqvist works in a sector that grows by 25% in a bad year and 80% in a good year. “Neither the market nor employee skills are a challenge for us. I want to work disruptively, to develop and change. Developing companies is addictive. 

Since obtaining his engineering and economics degrees from Lund University in 1997, Fredrik Rosenqvist has held several leading positions including Head of Saab Ventures and Director of Business Innovation at EON Nordic. He has also been involved in building up twelve companies, three of which have a valuation of over one billion Swedish crowns. 

Fredrik explains that it was during his years at Saab that he learned a lot about building up companies at an early stage – how to take a technology idea and link it to the right entrepreneur. 

“It was also there that I realised that it was important to me that what I worked with had a higher purpose. At Saab, for example, this involved working for national security.” 

Fredrik’s current challenge is about using his heat-pump company Qvantum to persuade 400 million Europeans to reject oil and natural gas and instead invest in a fossil-free heat pump system. 

While in Sweden we have district heating for those who live in cities and heat pumps for single-family homes and rural areas, the picture is totally different in other parts of the world. Fredrik’s ambition is therefore to help Europeans make the same energy transition journey as Sweden has over the past 20 years. 

“To start with the transition was primarily about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the aspect of securing a supply of energy was added.” 

Fredrik Rosenqvist and Per Rosén at Qvantum.
“The work we do in Limhamn and Åstorp is our contribution to making the world greener,” says Fredrik Rosenqvist, CEO at Qvantum. Here together with Per Rosén, Senior Specialist on energy systems.

District heating or heat pumps 

He explains that district heating and heat pumps are often regarded as competitors for energy supply, so Fredrik was to say the least surprised when, as Director of Business Innovation at EON, Sweden’s second largest district heating company, he heard his colleague Per Rosén’s vision for future energy systems. 

The vision was that by using heat pumps and a shared circulation between buildings, heating and cooling can be balanced and stored which drastically reduces energy consumption. 

“At first, I felt that this was about as sensible as an employee at Volvo Cars starting to talk about electric vehicles when the company has invested so heavily in gearboxes and diesel engines. But Per pitched his idea and after a few hours I said ‘maybe this will work’.” 

And it did. They sold the solution to Medicon Village Science Park which had 18 large buildings. The science park had previously purchased about 10 gigawatt hours of district heating and four gigawatt hours of district cooling. And since each gigawatt hour cost about a million, the energy bill ended up at just over 14 million. With the new solution their annual energy cost went from 14 to four million kronor (with electricity at SEK 1.20). So they were able to quickly recoup the investment and then save both energy and money. 

A house of dreams 

Fredrik explains that he grew up in Stockholm, studied for a year in the USA and then finished secondary school in Helsingborg when he returned to Sweden. For several years he lived with his wife in Linköping before they decided to move to Skåne to be closer to friends and relations. But before they moved Fredrik and his wife had spent 11 years renovating their house. 

“After 11 years nearly every plank in the house had been replaced. My eldest son came with me to the builders’ merchants in Linköping when I was on parental leave with him. For eight months I looked after him and renovated 16 rooms. Once we actually sawed a hole in the façade of the house to get a digger in. On another occasion we could only get to the kitchen across duckboards. That wasn’t popular when I was off on a business trip.” 

He explains that he has also carried out lot of renovations to his present house and if he moves again, it will be to another property in need of renovation. 

“A house must never be finished. And it must be big enough to contain all one’s dreams.” 

Factory work at Qvantum
The factory in Åstorp will make heat pumps on a large scale for single-family homes. Currently they expect to produce 50,000 heat pumps annually.

Factories in Limhamn and Åstorp  

In 2021 thoughts of a higher purpose, dreams and rebuilding came together when Fredrik together with two colleagues bought heat-pump company Qvantum Energi in Limhamn. 

“Qvantum’s heat pumps are extremely high quality. I would describe them as the Rolls-Royce of heat pumps. But the company had not scaled up its operations.” 

To achieve just that, Fredrik decided to build a new factory suitable for mass production. When a colleague read one day in the newspaper about a company which was moving its production abroad, they immediately got in touch. This purchase meant that Qvantum could start to make heat pumps a year earlier than they would have otherwise. 

While the factory in Limhamn will continue to be a craft workshop with about 60 heat-pump models for large properties that can be adapted to customer requirements, the factory in Åstorp will make heat pumps on a large scale for single-family homes. Currently they expect to produce 50,000 heat pumps annually. 

“The work we do in Limhamn and Åstorp is our contribution to making the world greener, which is certainly working to a higher purpose. It’s obviously a simpler and not nearly as complicated an ambition as I had at Saab. There it was about the nation’s security, but obviously also about arms manufacture. Heat pumps and green energy don’t have a downside.” 

In conjunction with the move to Åstorp, the product development team was tasked with making suggestions as to how they would design the next generation’s heat pumps if they didn’t need to take the existing product portfolio into account, for example. Everyone on the team had long experience of designing heat pumps and when they were given a free hand to create the heat pump of the future, they chose to simplify the design, production, installation, and servicing. They decided to build it modular. 

Another key feature was that it must be simple to remove a component and replace it with another. If the compressor breaks and needs changing on a regular heat pump, you usually need the services of a qualified technician who comes home, clips the copper pipes, loosens the screws, puts in the new compressor, solders and welds, and fills up with exactly the right amount of gas. 

“With our solution you take out the box and put in a new one in 15 minutes. No soldering or handling of coolant. In principle anyone can do this and no tools are needed, Qvantum’s modular heal pump is extremely compact and small – perhaps the most compact in the world. 

A dilemma with European cities is that the price of a square metre of dwelling space can be anything from 100,000 to 400,000 kronor. How could you justify putting a big, clumsy heat pump appliance costing 50,000 to 100,000 on that square metre, just so that people in the building can have green heating? 

“So our solution is small heat pumps of six kilowatts that will fit under the kitchen sink or in the cleaning cupboard. Maybe the vacuum cleaner will be a bit crowded. 

Factory overview from Qvantum
To complete the premises in Åstorp and then finance the rollout of heat pumps and energy networks, Qvantum Industries recently took in SEK 460 million from leading investors, including SEB Greentech Venture Capital. 

It must be scalable

Fredrik still works closely with Per Rosén, the guy who came up with the idea of combining district heating and heat pumps. Today, Per works at Qvantum and is Senior Specialist on energy systems and he describes Frederik as a force of nature who is always fun to be close to. 

“He is like a snowball that rolls along picking up new layers which makes him accelerate. He is incredibly quick thinking and good at engaging and involving people. But a deal must be scalable to get Fredrik interested. When he understands that he can do business, then he works round the clock to make it work.” 

To complete the premises in Åstorp and then finance the rollout of heat pumps and energy networks, Qvantum Industries recently took in SEK 460 million from leading investors, including SEB Greentech Venture Capital.  

“It feels really good to have SEB as one of our long-term investors. SEB is a strong name in green technology in Sweden and it feels fantastic to have access to SEB’s network,” says Fredrik.  

To start with Qvantum has set its sights on becoming established in Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany as well as a fifth major European country yet to be decided. 

Qvantum’s biggest challenge is not the market. Last year bad heat-pump markets grew by 25% while the good ones grew by 120%. Average growth in Europe was 38% last year. 

“Nor do we have any challenges regarding employees’ skills – everyone who works here is unbelievably skilled with many years’ experience, and now we have secured long-term financing as well. 

“As I see it, leadership is our challenge, so it is important for me that every employee is involved in creating a culture they want to be part of. They must feel that this is fun. Therefore I put a lot of time and thought into how we will preserve our innovative culture as we grow.” 

Read more about Qvantum at: qvantum.com

Article published June, 2023

Text: Malin Edwards
Photo: Louise Nylund

This is SEB Greentech VC

SEB Greentech Venture Capital is a unit within SEB that invests in green technology, focusing on transformative ideas that promise substantial impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or in preventing transgression of the planetary boundaries. They can invest in hardware, software and technology platform solutions, in sectors ranging from renewable energy, energy storage, water and agricultural technology, circular business models, to waste management.