Wood is a wonderfully versatile raw material
Finland is a world-class location for developing innovative bio-based products and technologies. The industrial exploitation of wood-based biomass is in transformation, creating compelling new business opportunities and possibilities. Wood is now used as a raw material for diverse value-added products and revolutionary biomaterial innovations.
Finland has the trees and expertise
Finland is the most heavily forested country in the EU and the forest sector has historically played a major role in the Finnish economy. As a result, Finland has accumulated expertise in forestry and the industrial manufacturing of forest products that is unique in Europe. The traditional forest industry now forms a solid platform for the development of innovative bioproducts.
Biorefineries enable a dynamic ecosystem
Modern Finnish pulp mills are versatile biorefinery hubs that offer attractive ecosystems and investment opportunities for developing new products and technologies. Today’s emerging bio-based forest industry is geared to producing biofuels and other value-added products based on wood.
Finland invests heavily in bioeconomy research and development. Customers from around the world are already making good use of the services provided by laboratories, demonstration and piloting facilities in Finland. The new business opportunities enabled by Finnish biorefineries are also attracting international interest. Companies like Itochu have become shareholders in Finland’s growing bio-based industries, setting up their own operations in existing biorefineries or making equity investments in startups.
Research-based spin-offs and startups lead the way
Finland’s booming startup scene has also energized the bio-based sector. Research-based spin-offs and startups now constitute a core element in the business ecosystem of a Finnish biorefinery. The piloting and demonstration facilities help startups and established companies to accelerate the transition from basic research to commercialization.
New products such as biocomposites, paper mulches and biofuels have been launched in recent years. Wood cellulose, lignin and bioactive components can offer new product opportunities for companies that are currently using other raw material sources, while also creating completely new business possibilities.
The new generation of wood-based products range from guitars to interior design lights and health-promoting sap and phenolic extracts. The true potential of new added-value wood-based products and applications is in the innovative use of the inherent, unique properties of wood and its components in combination with novel production and conversion technologies, product design and the Internet of Things.
STARTUPS WITH REVOLUTIONARY BIOMATERIAL INNOVATIONS
Lumir: Biofibre based acoustic solutions
Montisera: Spruce hemicellulose for helping to alleviate urinary tract symptoms
Onbone: Non-toxic and moldable material made from clean wood and biodegradable plastic to be used in orthopaedics, traumatology and occupational therapy
Paptic: Wood-based alternative to plastics
Spinnova: Fibre yarn directly from market pulp
Sulapac: Fully biodegradable package made of renewable and sustainable raw materials
Wallplus: Customized light weight wall tiles
Welmu International: Wood-based biowrap
LARGE COMPANIES WITH NEW INNOVATIVE BIO-BASED SOLUTIONS
Metsä Group: Opened new bioproduct mill in 2017. The mill manufactures a number of different bioproducts in addition to pulp, produces more bioenergy than it needs, and uses no fossil fuels at all. The network of companies around the mill, set to expand in the future, converts pulp and the side streams of pulp production into bioproducts that offer higher added value than before.
UPM Biochemicals: Focuses on four product categories: chemical building blocks, lignin products, biofibrils and biomedical applications. UPM Biochemicals develops lignin-based solutions for a broad range of applications, especially for bio-based resins and binders. GrowDex® is a novel wood-based cellulose nanofibril hydrogel for 3D cell culturing and other biomedical applications.
Stora Enso: The first company to successfully launch a commercial paperboard packaging including microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). Commercial activity started in 2015 at Stora Enso’s Imatra plant, which is the world’s largest MFC facility. Due to its exceptionally high strength properties and 100% renewable raw materials, MFC is designed to outperform current fossil-based materials, such as plastics, in a variety of applications.
Kotkamills: Produces high-quality barrier board that is recyclable, repulpable and renewable, unlike other generally used plastic-coated boards. The new product includes protection layers to prevent grease, liquids or moisture from absorbing into the package. The versatility of the board is increased by its heat sealing capacity, cleanness, lightness and first-class printing surface.