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Naava – born out of need

 Jyväskylä-based Naava (NaturVention) is the world’s only supplier of smart green wall solutions. Developed in 2010 by students of the University of Jyväskylä, the smart green wall improves indoor air quality and enhances employee efficiency.

Simply put, Naava was born of need. Naava co-founder, Aki Soudunsaari, had long suffered from problems caused by poor indoor air quality. He felt unwell and his on-the-job performance deteriorated. The company’s other founder, Niko Järvinen, studied environmental sciences at the university. He had a broad knowledge of various plants and using natural microbes to purify water. When the duo met during an entrepreneurship programme at the University of Jyväskylä, they began to consider whether plants could help with indoor air-quality problems.
‘People are very conscious of what they eat and drink. Yet we inhale more than 10,000 litres of air every day and pay little attention to it,’ Järvinen pointed out.

Naava co-founder, Niko Järvinen, says the company is next targeting the international market. The goal is to have smart green walls in all of the world’s major cities.

For their innovation, the young entrepreneurs used NASA research which showed that the microbes living in plant roots play a vital role in air purification. They began designing an active green wall with an artificial intelligence element that would nurture both the plants and the microbes in their root system. The result was an innovation they dubbed Naava. It uses AI-based technology to purify air up to 100 times better than regular house plants.

In addition to purifying the air, the Naava smart green wall brings a fresh, neutral fragrance to office spaces. The plants are carefully selected to ensure they are efficient and hypoallergenic. The vibrant green walls also add colour to the office environment.
‘It has been recognised that employees fare better in this kind of environment,’ Järvinen noted.
The effects of indoor air quality on people have been researched extensively. One of the most influential studies on the subject was conducted by the respected Harvard Medical School. Researchers found that better-than-average indoor air quality improved employees’ efficiency by up to 61 per cent. Average or poor indoor air quality decreased cognitive function.
‘You could even say that poor indoor air quality makes people stupid,’ Järvinen remarked.

Naava has a diverse client base. Voted the Best Place to Work in 2016, Vincit, a Finnish IT company, has deployed Naava smart green walls in its office spaces. So, too, Finland’s leading ice hockey teams, HIFK from Helsinki and TPS from Turku. The shipping company, Silja Line, and the Radisson hotels also have smart green walls, as well as many schools and day-care centres.

Naava is now looking to expand internationally. In 2015, the company began exporting its products to Sweden and Russia. The company’s goal is to have its smart green walls in all of the world’s major cities, particularly in the United States and Asia.
‘China is the ultimate dream for us,’ Järvinen stated.

Although Naava has already begun its quest of world domination, it has decided to keep its headquarters in Jyväskylä. The majority of the firm’s 50 employees (about 30) work in Jyväskylä.
‘Jyväskylä is a good place to be,’ Järvinen said, smiling.

Text and images: Suvi-Tuulia Nykänen

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