🇸🇪 Researcher nominated for best new idea in SEB Next Awards

May 3, 2023

Press release from Luleå University of Technology

Yijun ShiThe research spin-off Sustainalube from Luleå University of Technology is one of the companies nominated in SEB Next Awards, initiated by one of Sweden’s major banks SEB to celebrate sustainable entrepreneurship and new ideas that contribute to a better future. On May 5, Sustainalube will compete in the semi-final in Umeå.

Through his research, Yijun Shi, professor of machine elements at Luleå University of Technology and co-founder of the startup Sustainalube, has developed a non-toxic and water-soluble lubricant made from green residual products. Their glycerol-based lubricants are used on machines in the forestry, hydro power and manufacturing industries where they differ from competitors through their technical properties; they can work very well in cold climates, they have no environmental impact in case of leakage, reduce maintenance and have a positive impact on the working environment for machine operators and maintenance staff.

– “From the very beginning, we only had two facts to go on: we knew that glycerol had low friction and was sustainable. Through research, we quickly found potential industrial applications and were able to work with forestry companies to test and further develop the innovation. A major challenge along the way has been to create confidence among customers and investors to invest in an untested technology,” says Yijun Shi.

Today, Yijun Shi is the CTO of Sustainalube, and Jan Jonsson, with decades of management experience, has joined as chairman of the board, co-owner and acting CEO.

Jan Jonsson underlines the important role of the university in bringing new ideas and innovation out to society, meanwhile he says scaling those ideas from lab to industrial volumes is a challenge. There, the innovation support that Luleå University of Technology offers researchers and students plays an important role in supporting development, especially in the early stages when it can be difficult to find other forms of support, says Yijun Shi.

– The university’s innovation support was crucial to us in the early phase – both in terms of providing expertise and hands-on guidance, as well as inspiration. They have done market research to verify that the need exists in the companies, helped us with funding to do more tests, in patent issues and with advice on business development, says the professor.

– Regardless of whether we win, it is incredibly important for us as a company to be on the list when a major corporate bank like SEB recognizes innovative companies,” concludes Jan Jonsson, CEO of Sustainalube.


SustainaLube AB develops and markets environmentally friendly lubricants and hydraulic fluids without ecotoxicity under the collective name EcoLube series. The products are water-soluble with satisfied properties compared to bio-oils and contain no environmentally harmful additives.

The company is a spin-off from Luleå University of Technology and the products are currently used commercially in the manufacturing industry. Read more on Sustainalube.com