Search for...

Made in Serbia: How solar-powered urban furniture is making cities more sustainable

For more than a decade, Serbian crowd-funded company Strawberry energy has been developing and producing solar-powered urban furniture for smart and sustainable cities.
Image credit: Strawberry energy
, ~

For more than a decade, Serbian crowd-funded company Strawberry energy has been developing and producing solar-powered urban furniture for smart and sustainable cities. The company’s core product is a Smart Bench that provides free wifi access, mobile phone charging facilities, and offers various other information services in public venues.

Founded in 2011, this year the company is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, making it a veteran in the market. Strawberry energy’s founder and CEO, Milos Milosavljevic has vast experience in the field of renewable energy.

“We were the first to invent and install a Smart Bench, and when the network of our Smart Benches was installed in London back in 2015, it was really a milestone of our efforts to bring change into the way people in the cities interact and use street furniture and public spaces”, the company tells The Recursive in a statement.

A portfolio company of Bulgarian fund Eleven Ventures, Strawberry Energy raised €455K in a crowdfunding campaign at the end of 2018. Today, their Smart Benches are present in 26 countries and 65 cities across the world. Every Smart Bench offers free wifi and 4 slots for device charging: 2 cable slots and 2 designated spaces for wireless charging. The benches are equipped with sensors for environmental data such as air quality and movement of people.

“The best thing is that all this power comes from a sustainable source: the sun. The solar panel collects and stores the solar energy and is using it to power the devices and give free wifi, a completely sustainable solution, powered solely by green energy”, the company explains.

The main goal of the Smart Bench is to improve the everyday lives of people, and at the same time to blend in urban surroundings. 

Smart Bench in Belgrade

Right now, Strawberry energy is working on another sustainable project together with Serbian Telecom, aiming to reinvent the old public phone booths.

“We want to make them smart and put them to use in a new way – they’ll become a kind of city info portals that offer essential info, have the emergency call options while also offering free wifi, and lots of other useful features – e-tickets for public transport, parking or museums”, the company explains 

Additionally, Strawberry energy is also cooperating with Danish tech company EasyPark, which develops chargers for electric cars, providing a solution that allows users to relax on a Smart Bench while their electric car is being charged.

Strawberry energy says that one of their main goals is also to help promote young fast-growing companies which have an environmental agenda. One of them is Wolt, a food delivery platform. 

Together, they have installed several Wolt Smart Benches throughout the central square in Belgrade. Strawberry energy is also working together with international organizations such as UNICEF, installing Smart Benches with a smart module for contactless payment, where people can donate for children in need.

Regarding their next goals, Strawberry energy says that they will continue to work on improving the Smart Bench and inventing new sustainable smart solutions that would make a difference in people’s lives. 

“Hopefully, we are not that far away from living in fully functional smart cities where so many things are just easier and more environmentally friendly”, the company points out.

Help us shine a light on the emerging innovation hubs in Southeast Europe

Every single contribution of yours helps us guarantee our independence and sustainable future. With your financial support, we can keep on providing constructive reporting on the developments in the region and give even more global visibility to our emerging innovation destination.

Thanks for shaping the story of the SEE entrepreneurial ecosystem together with us!

Monthly donation

In the next year, you’ll help us:

💡 €7: Establish The Recursive as an independent platform for innovation journalism

💡 €25: Produce more engaging videos showcasing local innovators

💡 €35: Develop more channels for international distribution of local stories

💡 €50: Recruit reporters covering the local developments in several more cities in SEE

💡 €100: Train and educate young innovation journalists and content creators

One-time donation

You can also support The Recursive’s mission with a pick-any-amount, one-time donation. 👍

Bojan Stojkovski is a journalist based in Skopje, North Macedonia. He has been covering foreign affairs and technology in the Balkans region for over a decade.