New Forest Technology Frontiers: Interview with Rolf Schmitz – CEO & Co-Founder of CollectiveCrunch.

Posted by on Nov 30, 2020 in forest and wood market analysis, forest business, forestry |
New Forest Technology Frontiers:  Interview with Rolf Schmitz – CEO & Co-Founder of CollectiveCrunch.

In advance of the International Forest Business Conference on December 7-8, 2020, we interviewed a few of the event sponsors and partners to hear their perspectives on their expectations regarding future forest sector development. For the fourth interview in our series, we sat down with Rolf Schmitz – CEO & Co-Founder for CollectiveCrunch.

Can you tell us a little about CollectiveCrunch and how you fit into the forest value chain?

CollectiveCrunch is an AI (artificial intelligence) leader in the forest industry. We collect climate, geo and process data and crunch this information into AI models for better prediction of forest inventories and forest management parameters. 5 of the Top 10 forestry firms in the Nordics and Baltics are our customers. Our product is called Linda Forest and today covers over 6 million hectares of forest lands.  

Using Linda Forest our customers make better buying and selling decisions, use wood-based raw material more efficiently, and overall reduce their costs. Moreover, the solution can be used to predict climate risks and address new opportunities such as the verification of carbon storage.

CollectiveCrunch is a Platinum Sponsor of the International Forest Business Conference, thank you for helping us make this event a reality. The conference will bring together stakeholders from across the forest sector value chain to focus on megatrends that shape forest and wood industry sectors, highlight the transformation of forest-related businesses towards a low-carbon bioeconomy, discuss tensions between sustainability and cost competitiveness, and call attention to new green innovations. Why is this important to CollectiveCrunch and how the technology offered by your company may change the way people work in the forest sector?

Our solution is a step-change in analytical performance in the forest industry in that it is 3 orders of magnitude more complex and powerful than previous conventional approaches. This kind of solution takes time to build, and we have been live in Finland and Estonia a little over a year.

The conference is a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to a broader international audience, which is very exciting in itself, and also necessary to grow in new markets. We are specifically targeting the German and Eastern European market as well Russia. Also, there are plans afoot to reach out to North America.

I do acknowledge that there is a lot of debate around sustainability and competitiveness. From a technology perspective, we enable any of these approaches. In the core forestry business, we bring very significant cost savings, at the same time we can supercharge carbon analytics with our AI approach.

What are the advantages of the technology applied by CollectiveCrunch compared to other solutions? Do you believe that new technologies in forestry are a part of a sustainable future?

We take in all available data sets, ranging from satellite data to areal and LIDAR data, as well as process data from the supply chain. Some of these data sets reach back 50 years. This gives us a very granular view of what’s in the forests and the interdependencies of soil, climate, species and more. The system is self-learning, so gets even better over time and the predictions are continuously updated.

We use these insights to predict forest inventories without the need of driving out to do inspections and sample measurements. We see our solution as aiding and supporting routine tasks in forest operation. This enables the foresters to focus on higher-value tasks such as managing new risks like insect pests.

Also, towards carbon trading, the current methods and routines of verification and certification are so expensive and slow that many carbon projects are not implemented because of the high costs. Bringing technology to bear on this problem can help scale carbon storage projects much faster. So, yes, we strongly believe that technology can contribute to sustainable forestry in many ways.

A final thought: a journalist called us the Google Maps of Forestry a while ago. We found that an excellent comparison as our user interface is as simple to use as Google Maps, so it’s pretty hassle-free for the user despite its powerful inner workings. We believe this simplicity of use on top of a complex analytics tool is key to rapid adoption in forestry.

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us; we are looking forward to continuing to work with you. Also, we can’t wait for your presentation on The Difference AI Can Make in Forest Management and Planning at the International Forest Business Conference 2020 (registration still open).

More information about CollectiveCrunch can be found here:

Rolf Schmitz – CEO & Co-Founder CollectiveCrunch. Rolf is an Engineer by education and holds an MBA from Manchester Business School. He has deep experience in global Business Development and Sales, having built teams in Asia, USA and Europe. Having spent most of his career in the mobile and telecoms industry, the Co-Founders of CollectiveCrunch were looking for a new challenge, to bring AI-based analytics to the impact of climate on business processes. Today their firm is the leader of AI in the forestry industry.