Isabella Palmgren, 29, founded the company Mimbly with fellow students in 2016, during her master’s studies at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. Five years later, she has been singled out as one of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Europe by Forbes in the social impact category.
“The fact that people seem to appreciate what we do means that we have chosen the right product to move forward with,” says Isabella who studied the master’s program Entrepreneurship and business design.

Saves water and removes microplastics
The company she started designs and develops innovative solutions aimed to change unsustainable behaviors — with a focus on laundry. The first seemingly simple innovation is a box that connects to the washing machine to make it more environmentally friendly. Thanks to a built-in filter, the box allows users to wash with 70 percent less water and save energy while removing dangerous microplastics.
“We have developed a solution that makes it easier for people to be sustainable without even having to think about it.”
Isabella Palmgren and a team of other students at Chalmers came up with the idea by exploring areas where we usually consume a lot of water.
“We saw many documentaries and had lectures that highlighted the importance of the washing machine in society. When it was launched, it was a revolution for women who no longer needed to hand wash. It is an innovation that has meant a lot to people but that has not developed much over the years. From that perspective, we started to try out possible prototypes.”


Collaboration with IKEA
At an early stage in the development of the product, the company was hand-picked as the only Swedish start-up in IKEA's accelerator program. They received SEK 200,000 in grants, personal coaching from their business area managers and access to IKEA's test lab and prototype workshop.
“We lived in Älmhult where IKEA has its headquarters and for a few months we collaborated with their innovation department. It was a useful experience because we gained further insight into how to take a consumer product to a large market.”
“Other partners have been Swedish real estate companies that want to implement the innovation in their laundry rooms.”
Last year, the company received a total of SEK 30 million into the company after an investment round, of which SEK 19 million was a grant from the European Innovation Council's fund for green innovations.
“It helped us get the production started in our pilot project. We have been testing five of our boxes in different laundry rooms in Sweden and the trial has gone well. Our clients report that it has significantly reduced their energy use and water costs.”

Scaling up production
The current plan is to get another 50 boxes into laundry rooms all around Sweden this autumn and then go into full production in 2022.
“We think our product could be used in family households as well, as an additional product or a new kind of washing machine.”

Text: Vedrana Sivac
Photos courtesy of Mimbly

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