The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, Tekes, has granted funding for the development of four new business ecosystems in the bio-economy sector.
The ecosystems will be established to explore the export potential of nutrient recycling solutions, smart packaging solutions, wood fibre-based textiles and bio-composites, and the utilisation of wood-derived lignin in bio-based materials.
“This is a great example of the multiple applications of wood,” says Jari Tielinen, a senior advisor at Invest in Finland. “Everything that's made out of oil today can be made out of wood in the future. And that's a lot.”
“This is excellent news especially when thinking about textiles development. The market is huge and it's trying to tackle major challenges. Cotton, after all, isn't terribly environment-friendly.”
A key for realising the export potential will be the creation of genuinely new networks and value chains, estimates Tuula Savola, a programme manager at Tekes. She believes the high-level expertise in the domestic bio-economy sector has to be supplemented with new, truly end-to-end networks and value chains in order to penetrate global markets.
“Competition in international markets is shifting increasingly from the level of individual companies to the level of networks,” she reminds.
The ecosystems must both develop co-operation between their participants and expand the co-operation into new sectors, according to Savola.
The Packaging Valley, the ecosystem for digitising and developing new packaging materials, will bring together companies from the forest, paper and packaging industries, innovative small and medium enterprises, software developers, data security firms and companies innovating applications for the Internet of Things.
“The goal of the network co-operation is also to advance solutions to the piloting stage and improve the piloting capabilities,” says Savola. “This, together with strong Finnish and international networks, will enhance Finland's appeal as a research and development environment for the bio-economy.”
Finland is already a unique platform for bio-based manufacturing and bio-economy partnerships, views Tielinen.
“The entire society is research and product development-oriented – innovation-oriented,” he highlights. “Finland is one of the few places that not only carries out research and product development but also implements [the findings]. You must also find a way to get the findings to work. That's what we're doing here.”
The ecosystems are supported by Tekes and Team Finland. The funding is part of the implementation of Bio-economy and Clean Solutions, one of the spearhead projects set forth in the government programme.